Wednesday, September 15, 2010

County Officials Again Wary of Sanitation Code Violations In Kaparot Ceremonies

As the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur approaches (it begins Friday evening), authorities in Rockland County, New York are again expecting sanitation code violations to arise from the practice of many strictly Orthodox Jews to use live chickens in the traditional ceremony of kaparot. The ritual involves symbolic passing off of one's sins to the chicken which is then slaughtered. The bird is eaten or the meat is donated to the needy. According to an RNS article carried by the Oklahoman last week, in the ceremony in Rockland County each year, more than 10,000 chickens are slaughtered.  Health officials are trying to work with organizers of the ceremony, but as of last week had been unsuccessful in doing so.  Many observant Jews urge substituting money equal to the cost of a live chicken in the ceremony, and then donating those funds to charity. Rockland County health officials say that the ultra-Orthodox community has accumulated over $15,000 in fines since 2007 for code violations relating to the ceremony. (See prior related posting.)  Only about half the fines have been collected.