Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement,is coming soon, and with it comes the annual culture war over a ceremony called Kapparot, in which a chicken is slaughtered just before the holy day.

Each year on the eve of Yom Kippur, chickens—roosters for men and hens for women—serve as stand-ins for devotees to atone for their sins. As each performs the ceremony and swings a bird above their head three times, the worshipers recite a prayer asking God to allow them to atone by slaughtering the chicken.

Once the prayer is complete, the chicken is killed. It is thought that performing the rite could protect people from any misfortune or danger in the coming year, the chicken already having taken on the burden.

The chickens used for atonement are raised in extremely crowded conditions, brought under inhumane conditions to those who follow the custom, and are often left to wait long hours without food and water, until their slaughter.”

Not all even survive long enough to take part in the ritual. “Some of them dehydrate and die in agony while waiting and some of those who survive till the end continue to expire and twitch in agony until finally succumbing to their death,” the appeal said.

Each year, as many as 50,000 chickens are killed during the Kapparot rituals in Brooklyn.

Here at Freedom Farm Animal Sanctuary, we have taken in chickens that have been rescued from this ritual in Brooklyn. We are planning on taking in two more this year.

These chickens are Cornish Cross chickens which are bred to be slaughter at just a few weeks old. They gain weight very rapidly. So as they continue to grow, they end up weighing too much for their legs to hold and end up with joint problems. Because they are jumbo in size, they can also suffer from organ failure. We need to monitor the diet closely and make sure they get enough exercise to keep them healthy.

This is a photo of one of our past rescues, Oz

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