I had never heard of the ancient Jewish rite of Kapparot until I came across the headline Rabbi Battles PETA Harrassment in Fight for Kapparot Ritual.
Performed on the eve of Yom Kippur, the ritual involves lifting a chicken over one's head while saying a prayer in an act of atonement..... whereby the chicken symbolically carries away your sins. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor.
I won't go into a discussion of whether or not God wishes us to do this. To some who are unfamiliar with this ritual, it may, at first blush, seem primitive and a bit bizarre. Being Catholic, I know that some of my own religious rituals seem that way to some outside the Church.
Just what is it that PETA is objecting to?
PETA claims that the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE) dumped thousands of dead chickens in garbage dumpsters last year rather than giving them to poor families. This, according to PETA, makes the NCFJE guilty of lying to consumers about donating the chickens to poor families, violating Jewish law by wasting food and violating New York city civic law by creating a burden for city sanitation workers.
According to NCFJE, rabbis are present before, during and after the ritual to see that everything is on the up and up...so to speak.
I thought PETA was in the business of dealing with the Ethical Treatment of Animals not consumer advocates dealing the wasting of food nor are they authorities on Jewish law.
From what I've read on the subject, those practicing Kappoarot cannot rightly be accused of animal cruelty......unless one considers all meat eating as cruelty.
I've searched the Internet but have failed to find a story of PETA protesting the Muslim Eid al-Adha. I've written about Brigette Bardot and the trouble she's gotten into over Eid al-Adha in France. She was convicted of 'inciting racial hatred' when she wrote, of Muslims,
"I've had enough of being led by the nose by this whole population which is destroying us, (and) destroying our country by imposing their ways."
Compare that statement to one faxed to NCFJE from a PETA supporter. This is from the article linked to above.
"That letter, also apparently from a PETA supporter, had been faxed after the sender was unable to get it past the email spam checker on September 24, 2008.
Handwritten at the top of the printed page was the following: "I guess you are 'blocking' all e-mails from PETA. Go ahead and 'Hide' like the little '[expletive deleted]' you are. Go molest your sisters.
The letter, addressed to a former member of the Crown Heights kosher certifying agency and faxed to NCFJE, continued:
LISTEN UP [expletive deleted]. I'M "GERMAN", AND I WOULD LOVE TO EXECUTE EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU… MAYBE WAVE YOU OVER GERMANS' HEADS IN APPRECIATION OF THE HOLOCAUST. HOW DOES THAT SOUND? STOP DISGRACING THE JEWISH COMMUNITY BY INHUMANE TREATMENT OF CHICKENS. "KOSHER" MEANS "KOSHER"… YOUR PRACTICES ARE A DISGRACE AND I HOPE YOU, RABBI LEVERTOV, RABBI YOSSI BROOK, & LET'S NOT FORGET, RABBI ZALMAN OSDOBA (rabbis in the community –ed.), ALL ROT IN HELL. HAVE A [expletive deleted] LIFE. LET ME KNOW IF YOU WANT ME TO E-MAIL YOU AGAIN, I WOULD LIKE THAT.
The cruelty at your kapporos center, year after year, is a disgrace. Please make the compassionate decision to use money instead of live chickens at the NCFJE kapporos.
The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit has opened an investigation into the correspondence."