Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 42° Partly Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Jews Ready To Observe Yom Kippur Some Symbolically Cast Away Sins, Swinging Live Chickens Overhead

Associated Press

Swinging live chickens over their heads to symbolically cast away their sins, Jews prepared Thursday for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Devout Jews traditionally perform the ritual in the run-up to Yom Kippur, or Day or Atonement, which is marked by fasting and prayer. Yom Kippur begins at sundown today and ends at sundown Saturday.

In Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighborhood, men in thin plastic aprons sold squawking chickens from hundreds of colored crates stacked in the streets. Men with long black coats, black hats, beards and side locks rocked back and forth as they recited blessings.

“On Yom Kippur, you’re supposed to dispose of your sins,” said one man, who gave only his first name, Eli, as he swung a chicken above his head.

After the blessing, the chickens were slaughtered with a razor-sharp knife. Men in rubber boots hosed down the narrow street to get rid of the blood and feathers.

Many Jews, including those belonging to other streams of Orthodoxy, reject the practice as barbaric and based on superstition.

Most of those who do swing the chickens give the birds to a charity that distributes them to the poor, although some opt to keep the chickens and donate money instead.

The ritual, known as “kapparot,” or sacrifice of atonement, has been practiced since the Middle Ages.

Bands of small children crowded around the crates, staring at the chickens. One woman, Rivka, wearing a long purple dress and a white head scarf, brought her 3-year-old son, Shalom, whose big blue eyes were transfixed by the birds.

The Ten Days of Penitence begin at the Jewish new year, or Rosh Hashana, and culminate in Yom Kippur, when Jews abstain from food, drink and work.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.


American families feeling the pinch of COVID-19 pandemic

The COUNTRY Financial Security Index asked about 1,330 adult Americans in different income brackets a variety of questions, including how their finances are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy COUNTRY Financial)
Sponsored

The year 2020 hasn’t been the most forgiving year for families and their pocketbooks.