MACHIPONGO, VIRGINIA – The founder of an organization formed to protect chickens from cruelty says her group will be back in court after a federal judge recently lifted an order preventing the performance of kapparos – a slaughter done in a religious ritual fashion – in Irvine, California.
Kapparos is a Jewish ritual that kills chickens in adherence to kosher rules, then donates the chickens to charity.
The decision overruled a judge's order in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that the practice be stopped at the Irvine site.
Karen Davis, who founded United Poultry Concerns nearly 30 years ago, has been fighting the practice of kapparos around the country and supports several related court filings.
She said the federal court judge in New York who ruled on the Irvine matter rejected her organization’s petition due to a technicality, not because of the merits of its arguments of cruelty – paving the way for the organization’s attorneys to refile and fight the kapparos practice in Irvine again next year.
“The case for a preliminary injunction was dismissed on a technicality having to do with filing time,” Davis told the Northern California Record.
She said that’s not altogether bad news.
“My understanding is that it wasn’t dismissed on its merit, which that gives us a basis to continue on,” she said.
Davis said the practice of kapparos is cruel in a number of ways, and is many times practiced without oversight or the necessary health department permits. She said government entities usually look the other way because the chicken-killing is part of a religious practice.
“It goes on all over the place,” she said. “We have an entire section devoted to just Los Angeles and Orange County.”
In one of the most prominent cases, a man in Brooklyn, New York, was arrested for animal cruelty after several chickens being kept for kapparos observance were accidentally drowned. Many of the centers that practice kapparos are inundated by protestors saying it is cruel and inhumane, and should be stopped.
The First Liberty Institute, an organization dedicated to protecting religious freedom, represented the Jewish rabbis in the Irvine case.
Matthew Martens, a member of the organization’s pro bono team, said state law allows the practice, even though not everyone likes it.
“Our argument is that the Supreme Court really decided this 23 years ago when they said that if a jurisdiction has any exceptions to its (animal rights laws) for hunting and the like, it had to provide exceptions for religious ceremonies as well,” Martens was quoted as saying at Hamodia.com.
“They (the plaintiffs) have said they want to litigate ’til the end, and frankly so do we, so that we can settle this matter once and for all,” Martens said. “Our response is that it’s not your business to tell me or my client or anybody how to practice their religion.”
The rabbi at the Irvine chabad, Alter Tennenbaum, told the website that his group will continue to fight for their protected right to perform its religious practices.
“It’s a simple matter of principle and religious liberty,” said Tennenbaum. “At first I thought it wasn’t worth our time to deal with this and we should just shlug kapparos somewhere else, but that would basically be letting (their) tactics work.”