MAILBAG: Something MUST Be Done About Kapparos And Tashlich – Where Are Our Community Leaders?

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Children pose for photos at a Williamsburg Kapparos center - Photo by JDN

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Dear YWN,

I think our Brooklyn community has many serious problems that are on display each and every year at this time. They have been ignored for decades, but demand serious action very soon.

The two issues I’d like to address are Kapparos and Tashlich.

Let’s start with Kapparos.

I should start by saying that growing up as a child, my father always did Kapparos with money, but after I got married and built a family, I began doing it with chickens sort of (being honest here) for entertainment for my children. Sounds strange right? What can be more exciting for children? Trip in the car, chickens, a Shochet. Fun. But over the years I got disgusted by the things I saw, and started using money. I won’t go into the Pritzus at some of the Kapparos places in this letter. I’ll let someone else do that job.

I started seeing shrieking girls, chickens with diapers on, children covered in plastic garbage bags, people wearing 8 layers of gloves, laughing, joking, photo-ops. It turned into a big fat joke. A serious Minhag dating back to the Rishonim seemed to have turned into a laughable Minhag with people covering themselves in plastic. The carnival-atmosphere at the Kapparos centers make my stomach churn. (See additional photos below)

But overall, if this is your Minhag, then I respect it. But I think the time has come for our community leaders to take a stand and do something once and for all.

Last night in Boro Park, the animal-rights activists were at it again. Yes I know. They are a bunch of anarchists, and probably the same losers who troll the streets at the Black Lives Matters protests, and would love to join the NFL to publicly kneel during our National Anthem and spit on the Flag. But there are a few points that are of great concern.

How did these protests start?

Well, for years and years, Kapparos places treated the chickens in horrible conditions. Throwing them around like they are some sort of toys, slamming them into the crates, leaving them for days without water or adequate food etc. These are not myths. These are facts that I myself and many others can testify. I can’t count the number of times as a child on Yom Kippur my friends and I would let loose dozens of half dead chickens that some Kapparos center left on a street corner in Flatbush. It was an annual event and kept us busy on a long day, while we played outside Shul. Some years there were dead chickens in crates lying around. Yet no one seemed to care. Year after year the same local residents used the same Kapparos centers despite this horrific Tzar Baalei Chaim.

The protests started slowly, and organization such as Agudath Israel of America issued statements condemning this and begging the Kapparos facilities to take action. Some did, most didn’t.

It’s true that they will protest no matter what. In fact, many of the protesters are openly anti-Semitic. But the fact is, we have brought this upon ourselves.

SOLUTION: Move Kapparos indoors. There is no reason why we need to be swinging chickens around and then slaughtering them outside on public street corners.

Maybe rent a massive warehouse and sell tickets in our Shuls in advance and if you don’t have a ticket, you will not be allowed in the building. I don’t know how this should be done, but something MUST be done.

Kudos to the photos published by YWN yesterday from the Belzer community in Lakewood. That should be a role-model for how chickens should be kept at a Kapparos center – not to mention in record setting heat that the Tri-State Area had yesterday. The chickens were kept in what would be considered a five-star chicken hotel, with plenty of food and water constantly being fed to the chickens. (See photos below)

I want to be clear: I am not against the holy Minhag of Kapparos at all. I just think that the Rabbonim and leading Askanim must make some drastic changes to prevent Tzar Baalei Chaim and massive Chillul Hashem. It should be noted that in the times of the Rama who says to do Kapparos with a chicken, people likely walked into their backyard on Erev Yom Kippur, took a chicken and did Kapparos and moved on in life. Chickens didn’t come delivered 150 crammed into a crate, thousands of crates on a tractor trailer – and left for days without normal food and water.

Let’s talk about Tashlich, shall we?

This writer was stuck in traffic two nights ago for over an hour coming from Staten island to Brooklyn. Know why? Because we just HAVE to do Tashlich on the Belt Parkway. We just NEED to cause tens of thousands of non-Jews to be stuck in rush hour traffic because Yidden decided that the only place to get rid of our Aveiros is on the side of the Belt Parkway. I personally witnessed other drivers furious and yelling anti-Semitic slurs at the Jews for causing them to get home from work an hour late.

Why must we antagonize people? Why can’t Tashlich be done in an area where this would not disrupt the lives of any commuter driving on the highway? In fact there is a simple solution – and this writer even tried to make this happen, but my input was shot down instantly.

I called a wonderful leading Askan in Boro Park, who has been doing good for the community for decades. He is the individual that arranges with the NYPD to have resources at the Tashlich location on the Belt Parkway. But when he was called this past summer – MONTHS before Tashlich – the idea was declined.

The idea was to have Tashlich moved a few miles away to Floyd Bennet Field, which is located on the waterfront. It is a 5-10 minute drive from the current location on the Belt Parkway. There is parking for approximately 1 million vehicles (no joke). Floyd Bennett Field is an old airport. No one would know there are thousands of Yidden doing Tashlich there. It’s such a simple solution. All that needs to happen is a few ads in the newspapers of a location change, the Rebbes would all move their Tashlich outings that they do with hundreds  – and in some cases thousands – of their Chassidim to the new location. This would also save NYC a fortune in NYPD overtime – but most of all prevent another few thousand ordinary Americans from becoming instant Anti-Semites.

The idea was declined because of these reasons (direct quotes):

1- The people will never go to another location.

2- There are benches on the Belt Parkway. (He is correct. There are around 10 benches for 10,000 people to share. Easily chairs and benches can be brought to Floyd Bennett Field).

3- I would be happy to ask to have the location moved, but you need to call other community leaders.

These reasons are a joke. Enough is enough. It’s time to stop antagonizing our neighbors, and start doing this quietly. We should be demanding that our self-appointed community activists and leaders and our Rabbonim get together and start making some drastic changes in the way we do things like this.

We are blessed to live in the United States of America where there is freedom of religion. But that comes with a price. What is the price? BEING RESPONSIBLE IN THE PUBLIC EYE! 

We have forgotten that we are in Galus. The response of “they also do such things” is a stupid response. “They” are not in Galus. “WE” are.

Wishing you all a Gmar Chasima Tova.

Name withheld upon request.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This letter was edited slightly to appear better in publication.

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(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

Additional videos from last night in Boro Park:


27 COMMENTS

  1. When I read the headline I thought, what, are people killing 2 birds with 1 stone and doing kapporros with chickens and then throwing them into the water….

  2. I have never seen most of the above at Kapparos or Tashlich. Yes, I do bend down and sometimes cover my head by Kapparos, not as a joke, or because I don’t take it seriously, only because I’m afraid the chicken will leave something on my head otherwise.

  3. Well written.
    Honest ahavas Yisroel and respect for the minhogim k’doshim.
    Good alternatives offered.

    Hopefully it bears fruit. We don’t have to do whatever is in our power to ensure and further develop the מאמר חז”ל of הלכה היא בידוע שעשו שונא את יעקב.

  4. Two thumbs up for the author of this article. Rabbosai, we are guests in the U.S.A. Le’ma’an Hashem, don’t do foolish things that antagonize the goyim. We are not the masters of the land. Do you think legislation against cruelty to chickens could never happen? OK, Trump probably wouldn’t support such a law, but he won’t be president forever. A radical, left-wing Democratic candidate could get elected next time and who knows? The suggestion to move everything indoors is an excellent one. At least inside a school or shul yard that isn’t visible from the streets. Why advertise this on the street corners? Boro Park is not Yerushalayim. Some common sense is in order here.We need to start nudging about this right after Pesach, not 2 days before Yom Kippur, when it’s too late to change anything.

  5. Funny. I used to let those chickens loose on Yom Kippur also. Ave S and Ocean Parkway.

    The cops came one year after there were reports of hundreds of loose chicks all over the street.

    Gmar tov!

  6. I am chassidish and live in Boro Park. I spoke to my friends this morning after davening about this issue. Its amazing how blind they are. They think there is nothing wrong and this is just anti semitism.

  7. year after year we hear the same cries that “something needs to be done” to correct or hopefully eliminate these disgusting and shameful images of a minhag gone beserk and those cries are countered by defamatory accusations that those complaining are “self-hating Jews”, “apikorsim” etc. There is no need to shlug kaporos with a live chicken and the “new” addition to the minhag to use umbrellas is an even more bizarre twist.

  8. I cannot agree more. We’re not home here. This is a difficult concept for many to understand. And Minhagim are many. Yes for indoor and a big No to befah’harassia. Chillul Hashem and disregarding the presence of others who don’t necessary appreciate nor do they understand the meaning of theses deplorable shows. Another point. Keep looking around before taking your car, your children, stop the Yiddish’s buses without notice or blinkers, running over bodies to burn Chametz, shouting or threatening because you are just in a hurry. Not the best drivers in nyc out there! In brief I commend this article. I think we need to alert the Rebbe’s the Rav’s and take serious initiatives to educate. All ages. There is principles and dignity. And we all forget basic hallachot of דִּינָא דְּמַלְכוּתָא דִּינָא. To all גמר חתימה טובה

  9. Chickens with diapers is not a joke. Chickens used for kapparos are likely to have a little “accident” during the ritual, and that unpleasant substance they drop is unhealthy and can cause disease, especially in people with compromised immunity. Not using diapers is unsanitary.

  10. Totally agree with this post. Our leaders have totally failed the Klal here. We have kosher this and kosher that. We have Hasgochos and Mashgichim. For Kapparos Agudah puts out a letter and they expect everyone to listen?? Come on.

    Realistically speaking you cannot do it indoors since the smell would be horrible. How about have Kapparos and Tashlich at Floyd Bennet Field?

    Another idea is make people drive to a farm somewhere outside the city and not in the public eye.

  11. Number one: if u look around, kaparah centers thruout bp r being taken care of much better this year! They arent exposed under the sun, they r given food and water.

    To the writer of this article:
    Kaparahs r ok todays days. Stop blabling what the animal rights (rather saying, self hating jews and anti semites) r saying.

    About covering up under plastics: what in the world is ur problem??? If u ever went to do a kaparah with a chicken u know exactly what that chicken does. U most probably never did it with chickens. u just wrote that u did, because u wanted to start it off with a negative line.

    About tashlich: there r so many places for tashlich, and u can choose wherever. U dont need ti make the people travel another 5-10 minutes to create more traffic and chaos in different areas.

    P.S. U just want to complain how everything is done in bp.

  12. The author is so right to point out that this was not how kapparos were in the old country. The tzaar baalei chaim that happens now, with the chickens in cages on hot sidewalks for days, is not some vital part of the minhag. I don’t understand why, with all the cooperation the askanim have with the city, they can’t designate a place in several different parks to put a pen for the chickens. Or the people who want to use a chicken rather than money can go out to the country for kapparos. The askanim could arrange buses.
    The story with tashlich is embarrassing. Apart from talk of galus and anti-semitism, it’s just bad, entitled behavior. Why do some of us think we have a right to inconvenience people? Why is their time worth less than ours? Have some anivus and basic menshlichkeit.

  13. anti kapporos another form of “it not antisemitism” let those liberals mind there own business and eat there kale

  14. I feel sorry for the cops from the 66 precinct who had to stand for hours with the stench of the chickens. There was a flatbed truck parked on 13th and 39th that was used to haul chickens and the stench was overpowering.
    If people must continue this minhag, I agree that it should be done in a warehouse type building not on busy streets

  15. The author of this post has valid points. But who gave him/her the right to post those last few pictures! I’m sure all those people would be very uncomfortable having themselves posted publicly. A bona case of יצה שכרו בהפסדו

  16. While well intentioned, let’s be realistic. Ain’t going to happen. Nobody will take the chickens into their house. And no matter how you do it, these peta activists are going to complain for yiddin holding a minhag and they’ll dramatize anything to bash jews. I don’t see these leftist liberals complaining about the inhumane methods used by the muslims.

    The only thing we can and must do is bring in veterinarians and educate the tzibbur as well as the kapro centers. They’ll find methods to do it humanely without 1, transgressing tzaar ba’alei chayim and 2, it will negate the dramatization of these wackos.

    As a side point, the pre war generation had more experience dealing with chickens the whole year. They didn’t do it like this generation.

  17. I’ve been going to the Bay Parkway location for decades. What goes on the side of the Belt Parkway, I cannot testify to but in all those years I have observed the conduct of the people along the promenade as being respectful and quiet, so I am not sure why the letter writer is attacking this location per se. This location is convenient for a lot of people, and I don’t approve of people disrupting traffic, but I assume they are parking on the shoulder, so who is responsible for the traffic jam? The rubberneckers maybe?

  18. Im sorry to let u guys (who think that it should be done in warehouses) 98% population in bp r jews, who should not have a problem with chickens. The others, know that they live in the jewish neighborhood, and that we have a yearly minhag of kaparahs.

  19. Gut voch from Israel, where YK is over.

    This is a well written article & I’m in complete agreement with most of it. This year, my husband went to Hertziliyah for Tashlich & I went to a local pond . We couldn’t do Tashlich first day because where we live there isn’t any stream. When we lived in Brooklyn, if for some reason we couldn’t do it first day I went to the beach at Far Rockaway or somewhere similar… but the Belt Parkway??? 30 years in Brooklyn & I never heard that before. What a chilul Hashem.

    As for Kapores – I have had unwelcomed deposits too many times, so my chicken is in a box. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this idea.