Kapporot is the quaint Jewish "tradition" of swinging a live chicken over one's head, undoubtedly painfully breaking it's wings or legs in the process, before having its neck slit.
I always thought that this was an urban legend; that the term "them chicken swingin' Jews" was a bigoted, nonsensical, redneck myth, just as the belief (believe it or not!) that Jews have horns. I am not joking. My wife (who is Jewish) has had people feel her head for horns. This notion has its roots in Michaelangelo painting Moses with horns, for some reason. But that is another issue.
Anyway, then my step-daughter-in-law (a non-Jew) questioned my mother-in-law (a Reformed Jew) about this Kapporot issue.
She (my mother-in-law) said that "we don't swing chickens anymore". Which astonished me, because that meant that it was not an urban legend, and that it was
done, some time in the past.
So I did research. It turns out that:
- Kapporot was not only done, but it is still being done, with great vigor: there are at least 14 Kapporot centers in the New York City alone!
- PETA has a campaign to end this barbaric practice.
- Many Jews are embarrassed by this and are also working to end this horrendous "tradition".
Apologists have tried to claim that the sacrificed chickens are used to feed the poor, but strong evidence shows otherwise: thousands of chicken carcasses thrown into dumpsters.
Info on this issue, as well as a PETA video on the subject, can be seen here:http://www.ethicalvegetarian.com/essays.html#kapparot