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NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Misleads Public About Legality of Kaporos Chicken Massacre

October 27, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

In response to accusations from protesters that she has failed to enforce the seven public health codes that are violated during an annual Yom Kippur ritual sacrifice (Kaporos), NYC’s Dept of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Mary Bassett, told an audience at Columbia University that “this has been litigated in the courts” and that “there is a court decision that stands that governs our position on this matter.” The protesters say that she misled the audience regarding the court’s decisions.

The case is not focused on whether or not health codes are being violated, as Commissioner Bassett suggested.  In fact, in the lower court proceedings, city attorneys have not disputed the plaintiffs’ claims that laws are violated.  

According to Nora Constance Marino, the attorney representing the plaintiffs who are suing the city, the case centers on whether or not courts can mandate that the police enforce the laws that are, in fact, violated during Kaporos. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the police are not only ignoring the violations, but they are also “aiding and abetting” in the crimes by providing the ritual practitioners with flood lights, barricades, security and the orange cones in which the chickens are bled out. 

In violation of the law, body parts and blood contaminate the streets for several days during the Kaporos chicken massacre.

According to court documents, police are “aiding and abetting” in the violations instead of shutting them down.

In her remarks to the audience, Commissioner Bassett stated, “We have no disease signals associated with this practice.” Upon reviewing the video footage of Commissioner Bassett’s statement, Marino noted the potential risk to humans, saying “An affidavit from a toxicologist that was submitted to the court shows a multitude of public health risks, including e-coli and salmonella.”

Body parts contaminate the streets of several neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the days during and after Kaporos.

“As the Commissioner of the DOH, Dr. Bassett knows that erecting pop-up slaughterhouses on public streets and contaminating residential neighborhoods with the blood and body parts of thousands of animals violate public health codes and put area residents at risk,” said Cynthia King, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the city. “I wonder if she would be more inclined to enforce the law if dead animals contaminated the streets in her neighborhood.”

During the Kaporos ritual, practitioners say a prayer to transfer their sins to a chicken.

Commissioner Basset made the misleading public statements about Kaporos as protesters, angry that she has ignored community’s pleas to enforce the law, disrupted a presentation she was making at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Protester behind NYC’s DOH Commissioner Mary Bassett displays poster with one of the seven public health codes violated by the Kaporos chicken swinging and slaughter ritual.

Kaporos is a annual ritual in which ultra-Orthodox Jews swing chickens around their heads on public streets while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animals. After the ritual, they give the chickens to a man on the street who slices their throats in an open air tent erected in several neighborhoods in NYC. The ritual is performed prior to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. In Brooklyn, which is home to hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, an estimated 60,000 chickens are swung and massacred each year.

NY State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, will hear the case about Kaporos within the next two months.

In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos as well as 19 NYC residents sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Seven NYC public health codes are violated each year during Kaporos.


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60,000 Chickens are Swung and Slaughtered on Public Streets During Ritual Sacrifice

October 10, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Before Yom Kippur (the Jewish Day of Atonement), a subset of Orthodox Jews in New York City slaughtered an estimated 60,000 baby chickens as part of an annual ritual sacrifice called Kaporos. During the ritual, participants typically pin the chickens’ wings behind their backs and swing them around their heads three times while reciting a prayer to transfer their sins to the chickens, who they then deliver to makeshift slaughterhouses where butchers slice their throats.

In spite of the video footage of showing the Department of Sanitation hauling the dead chickens away after the ritual,  ritual participants claim that the animals are donated to the poor.  This year, activists for the first time discovered garbage bags filled with hundreds of chickens who weren’t used in the ritual sacrifice because they died of heat exhaustion, hunger and thirst in the crates in which they are intensively confined for several days leading up to the ritual.

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish children pour into the streets to participate in the ritual and challenge the activists who are protesting.

Activists estimate that they saved several hundred chickens from the massacre. The survivors have been sent to sanctuaries around the country where they are receiving specialized care to rehabilitate them after the trauma of having been intensively confined in crates for several days with no food or water.

In Brooklyn, butchers slice the throats of approximately 60,000 chickens and bleed them out in upside down cones on public sidewalks.

In 2015, The Alliance to Ban Chickens as Kaporos sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos sued NYC in 2015. The case has made its way to the highest court in NY, The Court of Appeals.

Your Turn

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos is raising money to pay for the long-term care of the rescued chickens and for the groundbreaking lawsuit against NYC for failing to enforce the laws that are broken by Kaporos practitioners. If you have the means, please contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign, Justice for the Roses.

After Kaporos, activists found dozens of discarded chickens in the streets who were still alive. These and the other rescues will live out their lives on sanctuaries.


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Orthodox Jewish Girl Secretly Gives Activist a Slaughter-bound Chicken

September 26, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Each year in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, Rocky Schwartz, like dozens of other animal rights activists, attempts to dissuade ultra-Orthodox Jews from participating in chicken sacrifice called Kaporos. In 2016, she had a lucky break. This is the story of a young Hassidic girl named Rose who defied her community; an animal rights activist who convinced her to show compassion; and a chicken who got a second chance.

Kaporos is a annual ritual in which ultra-Orthodox Jews swing chickens around their heads while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animals After the ritual, they give the chickens to a butcher who slices their throats. The ritual is performed prior to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  

Many Kaporos practitioners transfer their sins to coins instead of live chickens.

In Brooklyn, where an estimated 60,000 chickens are swung and massacred each year, animal rights activists take to the streets to protest, disrupt, rescue, educate the public and plea for mercy.

Over the course of the week leading up to Yom Kippur, hundreds of animal rights activists protest Kaporos where the ritual is taking place. (photo: United Poultry Concerns)

Each year, activists rescue hundreds of chickens from the Kaporos and bring them to sanctuaries that give them a forever home. Rose is living in Brooklyn with Ms. Schwartz, her human companion Jay, three dogs and two other rescue chickens.

A one-year old Rose, who was rescued from slaughter after the Yom Kippur Kaporos ritual, enjoys an afternoon in the garden.

In 2015, The Alliance to Ban Chickens as Kaporos sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Your Turn

The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, the organization that is leading the effort to stop the ritual slaughter, is raising money to pay for the long-term care of the chickens who are rescued and for a groundbreaking lawsuit against NYC for failing to enforce the laws that are broken by Kaporos practitioners. If you have the means, please contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign, Justice for the Roses.


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The Yom Kippur Massacre of 2016 (VIDEO)

October 31, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

Before Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, New York, partake in a sacrificial ritual called Kaporos. During Kaporos, practitioners swing a live chicken around their heads while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animal, who is then slaughtered. In 2016, hundreds of animal rights activists disrupted the massacre.

Slaughtering animals on public streets is illegal, as it violates 15 city and state health, sanitation and animal cruelty laws, but NYC’s elected officials and the agencies that report to them, including the NYPD and Department of Health, turn a blind eye because the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities that partake in the ritual vote in blocs. NY-based attorney Nora Constance Marino is suing the City of New York on behalf of local residents and the advocacy group The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos for failing to enforce both city and state laws.

Shimon Shuchat, who was born into the Hassidic community but has since left, encourages a Kaporos practitioner to swing coins instead of live chickens.

Shimon Shuchat, who was born into the Hasidic community but has since left, encourages a Kaporos practitioner to swing coins instead of live chickens.

Animal rights activists in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Jerusalem, cities with large populations of ultra-Orthodox Jews, are  campaigning to ban Kaporos.


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Catskill Animal Sanctuary Hosts 15th Anniversary “Shindig” in Upstate New York

September 18, 2016 by Leave a Comment


The News

On September 17th, about 1,500 people traveled to upstate New York to attend Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s (CAS) annual “shindig,” a day long celebration with rescued animals, live bands, cooking demonstrations, vegan food vendors, speakers and hayrides.

According to Kathy Stevens, the founder of CAS, sanctuaries enable visitors who aren’t already vegan to “connect the dots between their lifestyle choices and the suffering of these beautiful animals.” She asserts that people must “understand that our choice to eat animals condemns countless beings to an unthinkable level of torture, fear and terror.”

Attendees bond with farm animals at Catskill Animal Sanctuary's 15th Anniversary Shindig

Attendees bond with farm animals at Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s 15th Anniversary Shindig

By inviting many vegan food vendors to the shindig, Stevens demonstrates that adopting a diet free of animals is hardly a sacrifice, given how delicious vegan food in 2016.  And while not all vegan food is health food, a plant-based diet, Stevens asserts, is better for our health and for the planet, as animal agriculture “is the primary cause of the global devastation we’re experiencing.”

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At least a dozen vegan food vendors lined the roads within the sanctuary.

Your Turn

Please visit Catskill Animal Sanctuary to learn more about and support the organization’s life-saving work.


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