Volume 76, Number 20 | October 4 - 10, 2006

Villager photos by Clayton Patterson

Out fowl sins!

Kapparot, a ritual performed by some Jews between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, was held on the Lower East Side in a parking lot across from the Seventh Precinct one night last week. The ritual involves transferring a person’s sin to a live chicken — a rooster for a male, a hen for a female, preferably white, the color of purity — by swinging the chicken in a circle over the person’s head while reciting various selections from the Psalms and book of Job. For a pregnant woman, both a hen and rooster are used, since the unborn child could be either sex. Traditionally, the chicken is then killed and it — or its monetary value — given to the needy. In the Lower East Side event, the chickens were not killed at the scene. Left, boys man the chicken cages. Right, a girl transfers her sins to a hen. Critics, including some of the great Jewish scholars of yore, have noted that Kapparot isn’t mentioned in either the Torah or the Talmud, and some have called it “foolish.”

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