On September 25, 2012, Erev Yom Kippur, the City of Los Angeles Department of Sanitation made three dead animal pickups, two in the Pico-Robertson area and one in the La Brea-Melrose area collecting a total weight of 19,685 pounds of dead animals, that is chickens. The chickens were disposed of in the usual manner, taken to a landfill.
The source of the chickens were Kaparos sites which had assured Jews performing the Kaparos ritual with chickens, each costing between $19 and $26 that each slaughtered bird was being given to the needy. When the Kaparos organizers decided to increase their financial gain by availing themselves of the City of LA’s free dead animal pickup, they left a data trail which was made available by Richard Lee of the Public Affairs Office of the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Sanitation.
The produces an interesting way to roughly estimate the less than one-in-four proportion of the minority of Orthodox households who perform the Kaparos ceremony with a live chicken rather the three-in-four majority Orthodox households who use only coins for Kaparos. The 1997 LA Jewish Population Survey found that four percent of the Jewish households were Orthodox. Assuming that Los Angeles has not seen a radical change in it’s Orthodox population, less than one percent of estimated Orthodox households used at least one chicken for Kaparos based on the average weight of live chickens, 7 pounds, and the total of 19,685 pounds of chicken trucked to landfill by the city. There may have been other Kaparos sites using private sanitation hauling or just disposing chickens in dumpsters or garbage cans.
Pini Herman, PhD. has served as Asst. Research Professor at the University of Southern California Dept. of Geography, Adjunct Lecturer at the USC School of Social Work, Research Director at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles following Bruce Phillips, PhD. in that position (and author of the “most recent” 15 year old study of the LA Jewish population which was the third most downloaded study from Berman Jewish Policy Archives in 2011) and is a past President of the Movable Minyan a lay-lead independent congregation in the 3rd Street area. Currently he is a principal of Phillips and Herman Demographic Research. To email Pini: firstname.lastname@example.org To follow Pini on Twitter: Follow @pinih