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Kaporos, Largest Live Animal Wet Market in the United States, Opens Ahead of Yom Kippur

September 19, 2020 by Leave a Comment

The News

In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, tens of thousands of Hasidim in Brooklyn will purchase and physically handle live chickens in a wet market setting. Wearing little to no PPE, they will swing the chickens around their heads as part of an annual atonement ritual called Kaporos. The chickens will be killed in approximately 30 makeshift slaughterhouses erected without permits on public streets in residential neighborhoods in violation of eight New York City health codes. The body parts, blood and feces of thousands of animals will contaminate the streets of South Williamsburg, Crown Heights and Borough Park for several days.

Kaporos is, in effect, the largest live animal wet market in the country and the only one in which the customers handle the animals before the animals are killed. Many of the animals have compromised immune systems and show signs of respiratory disease. The chickens make each other sick, and they also infect some of the people who handle them with e. Coli and campylobacter. If the viruses that these animals carry commingle and mutate into a more dangerous strain that could be spread among humans, then these Kaporos wet markets could be the source of the another zoonotic disease outbreak. According to a toxicologist who studied fecal and blood samples taken during Kaporos, the ritual “constitutes a dangerous condition” and “poses a significant public health hazard.”

During Kaporos, tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews purchase and physically handle live animals, without PPE, putting themselves and the public at risk of zoonotic disease

In addition to putting all of us at risk of another zoonotic disease pandemic, Kaporos, which attracts hordes of people in small areas, could be a COVID “super spreader” event because Hasidic communities have been observed not wearing masks or engaging in social distancing.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; his Health Commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi; and his Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, allow this mass ritual slaughter to take place, in spite of the health code violations and risks to public health, because NYC’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities represent a powerful voting bloc that can make or break elections in NYC and NY State. In fact, taxpayers help to underwrite the cost because the NYPD provides barricades, floodlights and a large police presence at many of the Kaporos sites. Given the risks and the disruption and death we have already endured already with pandemic, how can the Mayor and his health deputies allow Kaporos to take place?

The Kaporos wet market contaminates the public streets and sidewalks of several NYC neighborhoods with the blood, feces and body parts of thousands of animals killed in pop up slaughterhouses erected without permits in violation of 8 NYC health laws

During Kaporos, some of the live and dead chickens are discarded onto the streets. Rescuers bring the survivors who they find to veterinarians and sanctuaries to live out their lives in peace

For the past several years, animal rights and public health advocates have pled with Mayor de Blasio and his revolving door of health commissioners (Dr. Mary Bassett, Dr. Oxiris Barbot and now Dr. Dave Chokshi) to shut down Kaporos, given the health code violations and the risks to the public health. Both in court and in the media, city attorneys and spokespeople for the NYC Department of Health have defended Kaporos and argued that the City has discretion over which laws to enforce. Throughout the month of September, the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos plastered 300 posters around New York City to sound the alarm about Kaporos.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, a project of United Poultry Concerns, plastered billboards around NYC to educate the public about the risk to public health created by Kaporos

Comments via Facebook Comments

  1. Reform Jew says:

    Joel? So why all the Anti-Semitism on this website? Have you seen some of the comments posted here? They have nothing to do with Kapparos but just degrade Orthodox Jews…. this is the same Proproganda from WW2. I see more comments about Orthodox Jews in particular and not about Kapparos. This is fostering hatred.

    I also see comments about abortion which is quite interesting? Do you think aborting live Embryos is ok?

  2. Joel Stein says:

    Hi Reform Jew
    I’m with you all the way on anti-Semitism in any form. I was raised as an Orthodox Jew. Members of my family endured pogroms as well as the Holocaust. And I went along on protests against the Soviet Russian treatment of Jewish people during the ’80’s. It is animal cruelty that I firmly stand against…whatever race, religion, or creed. I was raised to believe that kindness is a part of the Jewish tradition. And I take umbrage when my fellow Jews are associated with inhumane treatment of innocent animals.

  3. Pro-Life says:

    Joel? Have you seen how Drs stop a babies heartbeat while their in the womb….some 8 months old. Some abortion clinics just dispose of the body in a dumpster. I hope you will join me and others on being Anti-abortion too. We need folks like you

  4. Pro-Life says:


    There are many things in this world that some agree to and some disagree. Hopefully just like abortion this will end too; but until people stop killing Embryos how could you stop this?

  5. Reform Jew says:

    Hey Joel,

    I get where you are coming from and completlty understand your viewpoint. However many people even reform Jews like myself have noticed that this is not about protecting chickens from this practice. It has turned into a Proproganda machine and tries to link Orthodox Jews with many things; saying they are a voting block and that’s why NYPD, Heath Dept, and courts side with them. Trying to link measles and COVID with the practice and social distance issues that hasn’t existed since 6 months ago. I am not defending the practice however I will defend any False Proproganda and hatred against the Jewish community no matter the denomination. This is not about Kapparos anymore; this is about hatred of Orthodox Jews in general. It’s disgusting and anyone who is Jewish among this group of haters should be ashamed of themselves. You are allowed to dislike or not agree with the practice as even some Orthodox do, but publicly degrading Orthodox Jews about what they practice is blatant Anti-Semitism no matter if you are Jewish or not or what your cause is.

  6. Joel Stein says:

    Well said, Terry Russo. The images of blood and gore and unspeakable cruelty speak for themselves. And the words of the people who try to justify what they do only perpetuates more hate.

    Unfortunately, you cannot reason with the unreasonable. They will throw anti-semitism or racism or fascism in your face at the slightest hint of criticism. They will hide behind religion to continue their deplorable and unnecessary acts. And they will have you believe that torturing chickens, depriving them of water, bizarrely swinging them around their heads; all along spreading disease during a pandemic, is a righteous act. They will have you believe that, in the name of religion, it is their right to do so. And they will shame you for not allowing it to continue.

    Unfortunately, ignorance is pervasive. It is passed down from one generation to another and is perpetuated. The wanton cruelty of animals will continue until the society at large decides to speak out and pass strong laws against it. Unfortunately, politicians take advantage of large populations that engage in vile acts, and they use them to their advantage.

    Kaporos or any other act of animal abuse, no matter the religion or ethnicity or cult that commits it, should be forbidden and should be considered a felony offense.

  7. Terry Russo says:

    An Article from the website “MyJewishLearning”:

    “One need not go as far as those scholars who see the Kaparot as originating in an offering to Satan in order to understand the many objections to this ritual. Kaparot follows the pattern of the scapegoat, a ritual of riddance, but comes too close to superstition in indicating that one may substitute the death of an animal for one’s own life. Among those who objected to the ceremony were the 13th‑century Moses ben Nahman (the Ramban) and the 16th‑century Rabbi Joseph Karo, who wrote in his great work the Shulchan Arukh: “The custom of Kaparot … is a practice that ought to be prevented.” Needless to say, the objections of great authorities were not sufficient to prevent this ritual from becoming an accepted custom among the people.”

  8. George says:

    Gross misrepresentation of Orthodox Jews; this is nothing but hate

  9. Reform Jew says:

    More Anti-Semitism against the Orthodox posted here. Why I ask? What does this have to do with Kapparos?

    “From my experience having lived in the area, the Hassidim don’t care a bit about hygiene – on their person or their clothing. You’d think that a sect who worships ritual bathing would actually care about something like that. But no.

  10. Reform Jew says:

    Anti-Semitic comment of the month written above! What is wrong with you Jew haters?

    “With luck maybe the poor diseased chickens will do us a favor and infect these haredi and reduce the population enough that they lose the bloc vote.”

    Is this about chickens or Jews?

    Shame on the owners and supporters of this hate filled web-site.

  11. Williamsburg says:

    Looks like Donny and his band of Orthodox Jew haters is back out in full force. How you Anti-semites sleep at night amazes me. You don’t need to spread negative stereotypes about Orthodox Jews of you don’t like the practice. This is just blatant hatred of Orthodox Jews disguised as Animal Rights.

  12. Borough Park says:

    So sad how much hatred of Orthodox Jews is on this website. You all should be ashamed of yourselves spreading hateful Proproganda and now we know who to blame for the rise in Anti-Semitism.

  13. Crown Heights says:

    Donny Ironic you post this on Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah and you claim to be a Jew. You are nothing but a fraud.

  14. Pro Life says:

    We also need to stop abortion first and foremost. The killing of unborn Embryos need to stop. Donny can you arrange Protests for this?

  15. Karen Davis says:

    With chicken Kaporos as with all of animal agribusiness – of which Kaporos is a part – the cruelty and the contamination are linked, the suffering and the sickness are linked. It’s interesting how humans traditionally blame “animals” for being “dirty,” when in fact, animals living as nature intended regularly clean their bodies. Chickens dustbathe and preen their feathers to keep their skin clean and feathers in good condition. How must they feel being unable to perform hygiene in the typically filthy conditions people keep them in on farms, etc. Chickens do not choose to live “cooped in poop.” This is a human condition imposed on them against their will. What is the first thing chickens do when placed on the ground after a life of incarceration? They take a cleansing dustbath. I’ve watched it a million times in our sanctuary.

  16. Nancy says:

    Horrendous tradition. More cruelty and barbarism towards animals in the name of religion. It is mind boggling and shameful this has been allowed to continue, elected officials and authorities must put a stop to this immediately. And for the love of god, mandate face coverings and distancing in places of worship!
    Sincere thanks to those heroes who rescue survivors of this horror show!
    Appreciate all the comments.

  17. Donny Moss says:

    Thank you for these observations. I would add that one cannot atone for one’s sins by committing additional sins. And not even the practitioners of Kaporos with chickens could argue that intensively confining chickens in crates for up to several days with no food or water is not a sin.

  18. Donny Moss says:

    Excellent questions, Terry Russo. It’s surreal that this happens at all, much less during a pandemic.

  19. Joel Stein says:

    Very good questions and observations. They must be addressed; or we are on our way to losing our culture and our civility. Someone once said, you can judge a society by the way it treats its animals.

  20. Terry Russo says:

    I am saddened that this outdated and cruel practice continues to go on, in spite of the fact that over 200,000 people in the United States alone have died from Covid 19, a zoonotic disease that was passed to humans from animals. My questions are, how can sins be forgiven by torturing animals? How can sins be forgiven by setting up situations that can create the next pandemic, and kill hundreds of thousands more? And how can the City of New York continue to allow this, while claiming to be trying to end this pandemic and protect people?

  21. Joel Stein says:

    As a Jewish person, I am ashamed and disgusted to see the needless torment and cruelty to chickens continue. Kaporos, a deplorable and ignorant practice from the Dark Ages, flies in the face of all Jewish ethics and reason. It defies modern health codes. It negates the Jewish concept of Tikun Olam. And it runs counter to the idea that kindness applies to people and animals alike. No children should be lead to believe that mindless torture of chickens is a good thing. And we of conscience should always speak out against the vile ritual until it is forever banned. Stop the torture now! Stop Kaporos!

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