Blame the Chicken

Is money really an adequate substitute for a chicken? Obviously not. I don’t think any of us have ever felt better after a bowl of money soup. This, however, hasn’t stopped a group called The Alliance To End Chickens as Kaporos – which is a project of United Poultry Concerns – from insisting on the substitution.

The Alliance has filed lawsuits – both unsuccessful in trial courts – to stop or at least alter a Jewish Orthodox tradition in which people gather on public streets, swing chickens over their heads, and then kill the chickens.

Life imitates Monty Python. (See the Fish Slap Dance and the Knight with the Chicken.)

Oddly, the lawsuits don’t allege extreme silliness. Instead, they claim the rituals violate public health and animal cruelty laws and that public officials should be enforcing those laws by stopping the chicken swinging.

Last week, a divided New York Appellate Division court ruled that enforcement of the laws is discretionary and “(t)here is no ministerial determination to be made about the justification for killing chickens.”

But since two of the five judges ruling on the appeal disagreed, the Alliance apparently is going to appeal to New York’s highest court. The struggle continues.

In the meantime, you may wish to inform yourself about this controversy by checking out both sides.

In one corner, we have United Poultry Concerns – an organization with many concerns. You can find them on their website, which contains a treasure trove of fascinating things.

There arePhilosophical Essays & Published Letters About Chickens & Other Domestic Fowl.” There’s Poultry Press. There’s “Every Day Is Respect for Chickens Day at UPC.” And, best of all, there’s this photo:

You can provide your own obscene caption. I’ve been chuckling for a while at mine.

In the opposite corner, we have the practitioners of Kaporot, a ceremony explained on the Chabad website.

Let me begin by saying that one should not make fun of religion. I do respect other people’s beliefs as long as they don’t cause violence.

So as I note some of the highlights of the Kaporot description, I leave it up to you whether to find this inspirational or hilarious. I’m not going to tell you which reaction you should have (or which reaction I had).

There’s this: “We ask of G‑d that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year, may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this mitzvah of charity.”

Don’t punish me – punish the chicken

There’s also a seemingly racist note but I’m sure that’s not what they meant: “It is customary to use a white chicken, to recall the verse (Isaiah 1:18), ‘If your sins prove to be like crimson, they will become white as snow.’ In any event, one should not use a black chicken, as black is the color that represents divine severity and discipline. Nor should one use an obviously blemished chicken.”

It’s always the ones with skin problems that get rejected.

Finally: “If a chicken is unavailable, one may substitute another kosher fowl (besides doves and pigeons, as they were offered as sacrifices in the Holy Temple). Some use a kosher live fish …”

And so a Monty Python concept is born.

Mixed signal. All the news about Russia isn’t bad or scary.

For example, last week the Jehovah’s Witnesses put out a press release (assuming it isn’t fake) announcing that Vladimir Putin had awarded the Order of Parental Glory to a Jehovah’s Witnesses couple.


Am I imagining that some of those people look a little nervous?

The press release ends with this statement from an organization spokesman: “We hope that this award presented by President Putin is considered on July 17, 2017, when the Russian Supreme Court reviews the decision to liquidate the Administrative Center of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia.”

I hope that family has an escape plan.

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