This week, in the days leading up to Yom Kippur, 100,000 live chickens have been trucked from factory farms into Brooklyn to be used in Kaporos, an animal slaughter ritual practiced annually by many in the ultra orthodox Jewish community. During the ritual, practitioners hold live chickens by their wings and swing them around their heads while reciting a prayer. The chickens are then killed in makeshift slaughterhouses erected without permits on city streets. This constitutes the largest “wet market” in the U.S. and it takes place in violation of eight NYC health codes.
Leading up to their slaughter, the chickens are confined in crates on city streets, often for days, without food, water, or protection from weather extremes. In these conditions their immune systems are weakened. Thousands die in their crates each year from hunger, thirst, exposure and disease before being used in the ritual. Many of those whom practitioners handle during the ritual show signs of respiratory disease. Of the tens of thousands of people who partake in the ritual, only a small fraction wear protective gear, such as gloves.
It is this kind of interaction between humans and sick animals that triggered the COVID-19 pandemic. This time the disease originated in China, but the next pandemic could easily emerge right here in NYC. The mayor allows, and instructs the police to protect, this practice only because the orthodox Jewish community constitutes a powerful voting block. It’s time for de Blasio and the NYC Dept of Health to stop prioritizing politics over public health.
You can learn more, or donate to the effort to end this cruel and dangerous practice, at www.EndChickensAsKaporos.com