Jewish Chicken-Slaughtering Operations Ordered to Shut Down

The California Department of Food and Agriculture said Friday that it has ordered the shutdown of two Pico-Robertson operations that were participating in a traditional Orthodox Jewish ritual that involves the slaughtering of chickens.


A man walks by cages of chickens in a lot on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. (L.A. Times)

“I told them what they’re doing is against state law,” said Rhett Dunn, a Food and Agriculture investigator. “They have to be properly registered.”

Bait Aaron, a Sephardic Orthodox outreach organization, and Ohel Moshe, a synagogue, were performing the ritual — known as kaparot — this week in the lead-up to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Bait Aaron’s operation was in a makeshift tent behind a building it rents on Pico Boulevard. Ohel Moshe’s practitioners were operating out of a temporary plywood structure in the synagogue’s parking lot, also on Pico.

 The ancient ritual, practiced by a relatively small group of very observant Orthodox Jews, aims to provide believers an opportunity to atone for their sins. A practitioner holds a chicken under the wings and circles it over the penitent’s head or nearby, reciting an appropriate prayer. He then kills the chicken with a sharp blade and drains its blood. The chickens typically are then dressed and donated to charities such as the Midnight Mission.
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