Yom Kippur: Making Atonement with Donating to Charity

SPCA Israel asks to raise public awareness of the option of exchanging the custom of slaughtering chickens by way of making atonement before Yom Kippur with donating to charity

As in previous years, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel has set out on its campaign to raise public awareness of the option of exchanging the custom of slaughtering chickens by way of making atonement before Yom Kippur with donating to charity. In the framework of the campaign in previous years, the Society brought the topic to the public agenda by way of the media, informational pamphlets were distributed in synagogues and in various centers, and several Rabbis and parliament members joined the call of the Society and recommended to the public to replace the Kaparot ceremony with the giving of donations to the poor.

The custom of Kaparot, which is carried out during the Ten Days of Repentance or in the early morning of the eve of the Day of Atonement, is intended to atone for man’s sins through slaughtering chickens. The origin of the custom, prevalent since the 6th Century, came to offer an alternative to the atonement ceremony where a scapegoat was sacrificed in the Holy Temple.The chickens used for the atonement, are raised in extremely crowded conditions, brought under inhumane conditions to those who follow the custom, and are often left to wait long hours without food and water, until their slaughter. Some of them dehydrate and die in agony while waiting and some of those who survive till the end, continue to expire and twitch in agony until finally succumbing to their death, following the slaughter.

Over the years disagreements broke out with regard to religious law relating to the slaughter of the chickens, and different rabbinical authorities (among them Rabbi Solomon Ben Aderet, Rabbi Yosef Karo (the author of the Shulchan Aruch), Rabbi Moshe Ben Nachman and others) expressed objections to this act, saying it should be replaced by giving charity to the poor or through the use of plants instead of chickens.

We believe that on Yom Kippur, a time of self-examination, we should show mercy and compassion to animals and not cause them any pain or suffering. On this day in particular it is appropriate to help the weak and needy by giving donations and being charitable.

We wish you an easy fast and May You be Inscribed in the Book of Life.