Lawsuit against slaughter of chickens for Hasidic Jewish ritual in NYC

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NJ Burkett reports on the conflict between religion and public health concerns. (WABC)

There are claims of animal abuse in Brooklyn and now a group of residents is trying to stop the systematic and bloody slaughter of chickens right in the streets.

But they're facing an obstacle: this is an annual religious ritual practiced by Hasidic Jews.

The annual ritual is known as "Kaporos" is when many ultra-orthodox Jews seek to absolve themselves of sin by slaughtering chickens.

But critics say what was once a discrete, private religious ceremony has become a grotesque public spectacle.

An estimated 50,000 chickens are slaughtered every year, many of them on public streets in Williamsburg, Crown Heights, and Borough Park.

"People are visibly upset by it, the stench is overpowering, right in front of women and children and the general public the slaughterer cuts the neck of the bird," said Rina Deych, a Borough Park resident.

Rina Deych, who is Jewish, is one of dozens of residents filing a lawsuit to stop the annual ritual. It is conducted in September, in the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

"There's health codes that are being broken, there's New York State Agriculture and Markets sections of the laws that are being broken, there are street activity permits that are not being adhered to, there is animal cruelty laws that are being violated, it's like a free-for-all," said Nora Marino, the plaintiffs' attorney

Lisa Ranz says the ritual is entirely unregulated by any city agency.

"And they say it does not require a permit because it's a religious event and that is incorrect," Ranz said.

But supporters of the ritual insist the claims are exaggerated.

"I have never seen what they describe, but is there a situation where someone does it the wrong way, just like any other practice that people don't do it the right way, that of course is unacceptable, but I have no idea what these people are talking about," said Assemblyman Dov Hikind, (D) Brooklyn.

There is no comment from the city's Law Department, which is said to be reviewing the lawsuit.

But any attempt to ban the ritual is certain to be challenged on Constitutional grounds.

Related Topics:
religionanimal abuseanimalbirdsjewishNew York City
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