|August 29, 2008
Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, President
Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Dear Rabbi Hochberg:
I am writing to you again this year on behalf of United Poultry Concerns to urge the Rabbinical Council of America to advocate that kapparot observers use money instead of chickens.
For years, we’ve received complaints from Jews and other people who are appalled by the mistreatment of the chickens before, during, and after the kapparot ceremony.
Encouragingly, the Rabbonim who met on August 6, 2007 to discuss kapparot-related issues acknowledged that “in the hubbub that tends to attend mass Kapporos gatherings, the prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim – causing unnecessary discomfort or pain to animals – might be compromised by vendors or participants.” In our experience, mistreating the chickens by kapparot practitioners is the norm. Every written eyewitness account, photograph and videotape we have obtained reveals a pitiless spirit towards these innocent and defenseless birds.
We believe that, in addition to addressing legitimate concerns about the spreading of diseases among children and others exposed to chickens used in kapparot ceremonies, equal attention must be paid to exposing children to the desensitized behavior of the adults they look up to. Compassionate children are traumatized by such experiences, and less sensitive children are encouraged to become even more insensitive.
For all of these reasons, we respectfully urge that the Rabbinical Council of America use its influence to help eliminate chickens from kapparot observances, in keeping with Jewish teachings that promote kindness to animals and the fact that the use of chickens in kapparot ceremonies is not required for rituals of atonement by the Talmud or the Torah.
Thank you for your kind attention. A response to my letter would be greatly appreciated.
Karen Davis, PhD, President
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405