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Talk back: Should chickens be sacrificed for religious purposes?

September 12, 2013|By Matt Stevens and Martha Groves

For many years, some orthodox Jews have performed ritual chicken sacrifice in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

The practice, known variously as kaparot, kapparot or kaparos, was originally meant to jolt practitioners into recognizing their mortality. Today, some see it as a way to symbolically transfer a person’s sins to an animal.

The ritual is occurring in hastily built plywood rooms and other structures in traditional Orthodox Jewish communities from Pico-Robertson to Brooklyn. But this year, activists have launched one of the largest, most organized efforts ever in the Southland to protest the practice.

Animal rights activists and some liberal Jews say the custom is inhumane, paganistic and out of step with modern times. But defenders of kaparot say they will not change their longstanding tradition. Assuming everything in compliance with code and kosher law, most rabbis say they would not consider the slaughter of chickens as animal mistreatment.

From the story on the controversy Wednesday by Times staff writers’ Martha Groves and Matt Stevens:

Over the weekend, a coalition of faith leaders and animal rights proponents held a  "compassionate kaparot ceremony" during which rabbis used money rather than chickens for the ritual, an accepted alternative.

Since the ceremony, activists have taken to Pico Boulevard each evening, handing out fliers, setting up candlelight vigils and even bargaining with one kaparot manager to rescue chickens on the chopping block in exchange for protesting more peacefully.

The demonstrations have sometimes gotten testy. Protesters and kaparot managers alike contend they've been peppered with anti-Semitic slurs.

In one instance Monday night, police were called after a woman refused to exit a parking lot where she heard the screeching of fowl. By the time police arrived, she had walked down the block. No one was injured, and no arrests were made.

Is animal sacrifice for religious purposes still appropriate in the 21st century? Let us know in the comments section below or by tweeting your thoughts @LANow.

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Twitter: @MattStevensLAT

matt.stevens@latimes.com

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