(JTA) – The pre-Yom Kippur ritual of kapparot can continue in New York, a New York appeals court found.
The Appellate Division First Department in Manhattan on Tuesday upheld a lower court decision that declined to block the pre-Yom Kippur slaughter of chickens in 2015, when the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and 19 Brooklyn residents living near where the ritual was performed sued to stop it, the New York Daily News reported.
Kapparot involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head three times and reciting a prayer to transfer sins to the bird. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor. In recent years, money has replaced the chicken in the rite for many Jewish groups.
The lawsuit, which named several rabbis, synagogues, the New York Police Department and the City of New York, accused the police and health departments of assisting the ritual by blocking off streets and sidewalks, and not enforcing city and state laws that regulate health and prevent animal cruelty.
“Although they may be upsetting to non-adherents of such practice, the United States Supreme Court has recognized animal sacrifice as a religious sacrament and decided that it is protected under the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment,” the appellate court ruling said.
The Alliance said it would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, saying the 3-2 appellate court vote left the door open to a reversal, according to the report.