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Hasidic Jews Speak Out Against Mass Animal Sacrifice, Kaporos

September 18, 2019 by Leave a Comment


The News

Before Yom Kippur in 2018, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man in Brooklyn recorded himself criticizing a ritual animal sacrifice called Kaporos while standing in front of hundreds of chickens who had been abandoned for the night with no food or water. While many ultra-Orthodox Jews are willing to speak off the record about their growing discomfort with Kaporos, few speak out publicly out of fear of retribution.

During Kaporos, practitioners swing six-week old chickens around their heads while reciting a prayer to symbolically transfer their sins to the animal before the Jewish Day of Atonement.  They then bring the chickens to ritual slaughterers who slice their throats in makeshift slaughterhouses erected for the holiday.

While reciting a prayer, a Kaporos practitioner swings a chicken around his son’s head in a symbolic transfer of his son’s sins to the chicken. The chicken is then killed in a makeshift slaughterhouse erected before Yom Kippur. (photos: Unparalleled Suffering Photography)

During a previous Kaporos, an ultra-Orthodox man in Brooklyn told TheirTurn that he felt that the ritual could not be conducted humanely on a mass scale in urban areas.  “It used to be, once upon a time, you lived in a little shtetl [small Jewish village in Eastern Europe]. You used to go before Yom Kippur. You used to take your chicken out of your backyard. You used to take it and do it, but not to bring as a mass slaughtering on the streets. And that’s why I think it’s not right.”

 

In recent years,  resistance to the use of live chickens has been building in ultra-Orthodox communities. In discussions with animal protection advocates, many Kaporos practitioners have acknowledged that the animals are mistreated in the days leading up to the ritual due to their intensive confinement in crates. While some say that the problems can be fixed, others in the community argue that the industrialization of the ritual has led to systemic abuses that violate “Tza’ar ba’alei chayim,” a Jewish commandment that bans causing animals unnecessary suffering. In 2017 and 2018, thousands of crated chickens died of hunger, thirst, sickness and heat exhaustion before the ritual even began.

Before Yom Kippur, tens of thousands of chickens are trucked into Brooklyn, and the chickens are held in crates for up to several days with no food, water or protection from weather extremes.

A least a dozen Hasidim have told TheirTurn that online videos about the cruelty have compelled them and/or family members to stop using chickens. Others say that, because the ritual takes place just once a year, they begrudgingly continue to use chickens in order to avoid family or community strife.

Advocates say that holding chickens by their wings instead of their bodies causes them more pain as they’re pulled from the crates, transferred to the Kaporos practitioner and swung in the air.

In New York City, animal rights activists have been protesting the ritual for decades, but they have seen few tangible results. “In candid discussions with ultra-Orthodox Jews, we have learned that the community doubles down on something when outsiders ask them to stop,” said Jessica Hollander, an activist who has been protesting the ritual since 2014. “We were trying to help the chickens, but, in the end, we were doing more harm than good.”  In 2018, the activist community stopped protesting and instead focused on providing food and water to the beleaguered chickens.

Advocates provide water to chickens in crates who are intensively confined for up to several days with no food, water or protection from the extreme heat.

To the surprise of animal rights activists in the United States, Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture released an animated public service announcement encouraging Kaporos practitioners to use coins instead of live animals. In New York City, the government not only refuses to speak out against the use of chickens, but also provides City resources for ritual, in spite of the 15 city and state public health and animal cruelty laws that are violated.


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Dairy Consumers Reconsider

September 9, 2019 by Leave a Comment


The News

Four dairy consumers talk about why they eat it and why giving it up is so difficult. Will videos about the health risks and animal welfare issues along with samples of cashew-based cheese convince them to switch to non-dairy products?

During the two hour discussion, participants watched a 1.5 minute video in which Dr. Michael Klaper, an expert in nutritional medicine, explains why dairy products, which are made from the bovine mammary secretions of cows,  are unhealthy for humans.

Participants also watched Grieving Mothers, a four minute documentary produced by TheirTurn about what happens to cows and their babies in the dairy industry.

 


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Vegans Share Their Defining Moment

August 28, 2019 by Leave a Comment


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During the 2019 Animal Liberation March in New York City, animal rights activists spoke to TheirTurn about what made them go vegan.

2019 Animal Liberation March in New York City

Animal rights activists take to the streets of NYC during the 2019 Animal Liberation March

Participants in the 2019 Animal Liberation March educate the public about the connection between the destruction of the Amazon and the consumption of meat.


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Before Being Arrested, Animal Rights Activists Explain Why They Chained Themselves to Factory Farm Gate

August 5, 2019 by Leave a Comment


The News

On June 3rd, an estimated 600 animal liberation activists with Direct Action Everywhere (DxE)  traveled to Reichardt Duck Farm, a factory farm and slaughterhouse in Petaluma, California, to rescue ducks in need of medical care and to protest and expose the inhumane conditions.

Before being arrested for chaining themselves to the front gate, two activists spoke to TheirTurn about why they were protesting:

“Reichardt Farms is a cruel, environmentally destructive factory farm masquerading as small family operation with happy ducks,” said Matt Johnson, a spokesperson for DxE. “The public has the right to know the truth – that these aquatic animals spend their entire lives in dark warehouses with no access to water, sunlight and the outdoors.”

As the protest at Reichardt Farms began, several activists attached themselves with bike locks to the conveyer belt in the slaughterhouse. To their astonishment, a slaughterhouse worker activated the conveyer belt, almost killing one of the activists. Another groups of activists retrieved dead ducks from the trash and brought them outside to show to the media. A third group of activists rescued sick ducks before they were slaughtered.

Direct Action Everywhere activist Thomas Chiang is almost killed after slaughterhouse worker turns on the slaughter line to which he is attached.

Two hours after the protest began, approximately 40 police officers in riot gear marched through the throngs of protesters and stationed themselves behind the activists who were chained to the front gate. Several hours later, they began cutting the chains and making arrests.

Throughout the afternoon, the riot police arrested approximately 100 activists and held the majority of them in Sonoma county jail for 48 hours. While several were charged with felonies, the majority received misdemeanor charges.

Stand off between riot police and DxE activists protesting animal abuse at Reichardt Duck Farms

Because the protest received extensive press coverage in the mainstream media, the cruelty of Reichardt Farms and the massive protests that took place will likely dominate google searches of this company for years to come.


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Cube of Truth: San Francisco Takeover

June 17, 2019 by Leave a Comment


The News

Several hundred animal rights activists took to the streets of San Francisco during a Friday afternoon rush hour to participate in “Cubes of Truth,” a vegan outreach concept created by the animal rights group Anonymous for the Voiceless (AV). The multi-cube event was staged during the 2019 Animal Liberation Conference, which took place in nearby Berkeley.

During the cubes, participants either display videos of animal exploitation or engage pedestrians who stop to watch the footage.

“We’re out here to educate non-vegans about the imperative of being vegan and speaking up for animals,” said Paul Bashir, who co-founded AV with his partner Asal Alamdari in 2016. “We need to hold non-vegans to account for the evils we commit against animals and ask them what they’re going to do about it.”

An activist conducts vegan outreach with a pedestrian who stopped to watch the footage being displayed in a Cube of Truth

The growth of AV has been meteoric.  In 2.5 years, AV chapters have been created in approximately 1,000 cities worldwide. In that time, an estimated 15,000 cubes have been staged. In May, 2019, hundreds of AV activists participated in a 24 hour cube in Amsterdam. In July, AV plans to operate cubes in New York City for seven consecutive days.

Among the largest cubes of truth produced since AV’s 2016 inception were Berlin in 2018 and Amsterdam in 2019,


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