Despite Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 53.67, banning animal sacrifices in religious and cult rituals, each September during the Jewish high holidays, the City of Los Angeles allows a variance to a small segment of the orthodox community to perform the pagan custom of chicken swinging. In this unusually cruel ritual, a live chicken is swung around a person's head and then its throat is slit. This barbaric custom of “transferring sin” to the chicken has no basis in Talmudic law; it is a superstition from the Middle Ages, and modern Jews that observe this practice, called “kapparot,” substitute coins wrapped in a cloth, which are then given to charity.
Kapparot is now being operated as a moneymaking scheme in several synagogue and synagogue annex parking lots in the Pico-Robertson section of Los Angeles. The charge is $18 to $28 per chicken, and each participant gets one slaughtered in his honor. The chickens are then mostly thrown away (which there is documented evidence of), as most food banks and pantries are unable to accept them. This is contrary to the organizers’ claims that all of the useable parts are donated to the needy.
This year I witnessed thousands of chickens sacrificed in parking lots in my neighborhood, with blood running into the sewer, dead chickens tossed into dumpsters, chckens stuffed into cages and dying in the heat without food and water, along with filth and excrement scattered all over. From the street, passersby can plainly hear the cries of the chickens, see them struggling to breath and stand up in the cages, and actually watch them die of heatstroke and shock. Many were in the sun for three days without food or water. They died on top of each other, and their bodies were tossed into the dumpster, in violation of health codes.
While there, I saw facilitators of this operation get cited repeatedly, yet not shut down. It took two squad cars and four officers (1/4 of the police officers on duty for the entire west side of Los Angeles), to guard this slaughter and protect the perpetrators from angry community residents and animal activists. They also had to respond to repeated calls reporting harassment, threats and physical attacks on the protesters.
This ritual has no place in civilized society, particularly in a
progressive city that prides itself on its animal welfare record.
We petition the City of Los Angeles to to enforce the code banning this cruel and barbaric practice.