Chicken twirlers make feathers fly

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ANIMAL rights activists have urged Israel's chief rabbis to end the traditional pre-Yom Kippur practice of kapparot.

During the ritual, a chicken is swung around the head three times, symbolically transferring sins to the bird.

The chicken is then slaughtered and given to a needy family.

The Let the Animals Live organisation pleaded with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar to instruct their followers to prevent the suffering of chickens.

The activists say money should be given to charity as a replacement for slaughtering the animals.

A letter to the rabbis said: "Every year we turn to the highest echelons of the religious leadership, but the abuse continues."

The animal rights group claimed that many chickens set aside for kapparot are kept for many long hours - sometimes even days - in boxes without being given any food or water. Many of them reportedly die from starvation and thirst before being brought to slaughter.

"We are turning to you to prevent animal suffering, to act with a measure of compassion and to grant God's creatures the minimum required in order to survive," the activists wrote to the rabbis.

"We recommend placing a dish with water and a little bit of food so that the kapparot chickens will not die from the harsh agony of starvation and thirst."

The letter noted that the legendary author of the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Yosef Karo, had ruled that "the custom must be prevented".

Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger's office says it intends to write a halachic ruling on the issue at the behest of Let the Animals Live.

A statement said: "The rabbi has already expressed his opinion countless times that one must have mercy on the chickens, especially during these days of compassion.

"In addition, the rabbi instructs the slaughterhouse rabbis to tighten oversight (of the slaughterhouses) on the eve of Yom Kippur."

In the religious area of Monsey, New York, Moshe Lefkowitz who has been conducting the kapparot ceremony for ultra-Orthodox Jews for more than 30 years, says he he can't understand what the fuss is about. continues here

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