The vast majority of chickens represented as Tzedakah for the poor still are largely being discarded this year, though without tax-payer funded disposal services.
Among the major things Rabbi Jonathan Klein, co-founder of Faith Action for Animals, accomplished with the picketing of Kaparot sites along Pico Blvd. beginning on Sunday, September 8, six days before Yom Kippur, is that the LAPD waved off LA Department of Sanitation trucks from removing the vast majority of slaughtered Kaparot chickens moldering in large plastic bags.
As dead chickens kept piling up behind curtains and doors at the Kaparot sites, the operators became more desperate as the time to Kol Nidre approached and began attempting using private cars and a pickup trucks to haul away chickens. This resulted, in a case, on the morning of Erev Yom Kippur, documented by Rabbi Jonathan Klein, of a pickup truck with it bed loaded high with bags from a Kaparot site going reckless high speed through the streets of busy Pico-Robertson full of people and families getting ready for Yom Kippur. Evidence of a car trunk loaded with bags of dead birds were uncovered and photographed by demonstrators from Faith Action for Animals. While waiting in the the alley behind and empty store west of Ohel Moshe with LA Times reporter Martha Groves and LA Times photographer Genaro Molino I personally witnessed Kaparot managers open a building back door near alley parked cars and beat a hasty retreat when they saw they were being observed. Jewish Journal journalist, Edmon Rodman, observed the site after the initial retreat and then left for another kaparot site. Apparently the Ohel Moshe kaparot operation sought a different path than the back door and were later observed by me tossing some bags in a white van parked near their slaughter shack in the front.
This cat and mouse game continued probably well after 4:30 pm when I left a scene of animal activists blocking the loading of about 300 hens back on a semi-trailer from the chicken farm sent to haul the chickens which hadn’t been used for slaughter. Faith Action for Animals activists were trying to negotiate with Rabbi Moshe Nourollah, whose Jewish outreach organization Bait Aaron organized the kaporot ceremony behind Young Israel of Beverly Hills, to turn over the remaining chickens to them which they claimed they wanted to place in situations which would not slaughter them. I left before the situation was resolved or escalated.
I personally experienced how this situation escalated into violence. On Thursday morning, I happened on delivery, by a large “Maust’s California Farms” chicken ranch hauling truck from Chino, off-loading in the alley behind Young Israel of Beverly Hills and used the opportunity to count the birds, which from the eggs in the cages were all layer hens, probably at the end of their egg laying careers. The six-level and seven level cages each had about ten hens crowded into each cage level and by counting the cages, I estimated that I saw 1,700 hens in cages and empty cages that might have contained another 600 chickens that were probably loaded back on the truck as empty cages to be returned. From the 10 tons of dead chickens hauled from La Brea-Melrose and Pico-Robertson last year by the City of LA Sanitation Dept. an estimate of 5,000 hens slaughtered and tossed was developed. That Thursday morning, I may have observed evidence of something approaching a third to a half of the chickens used for LA Kaparot at that staging area behind the synagogue.
From the characteristics of the chickens, they were all egg-laying hens. Why is this important? Tradition requires that men use roosters for kaparot and women use hens. I have observed Kaparot managers claiming to those who ask, that the hens are roosters. About half of those engaged in Kaparot are men, and they are often defrauded into thinking they are swinging roosters.
Talking to a kippah wearing man loading an F-150 Ford pickup truck with hens that Thursday morining, I asked him if there were roosters there and he said that there were. I asked him if he could point them out to me and he pointed to a stack of cages. When I went over to inspect them closely and began photographing evidence of eggs in the cages, he quickly gathered a pile of eggs near the cage and went behind a truck in the alley, apparently to dispose of the eggs, and I was aiming the camera to capture this and the man came at me and ripped my camera from my hand and tossed it on the ground. When I picked up my camera, he pushed me to the ground, trying to grab the camera. I called the LAPD and ultimately filed a battery and vandalism report with two very weary police who had been assigned to monitor the situation and the more senior one related that he had been going out on Kaparot disturbance calls for several years.
Ultimately, the California Department of Food and Agriculture on Friday issued notices of violation after it’s inspector determined that the Kaparot facilities were slaughterhouses operating without licenses.
As well as the Jewish Journal which originally published a blog and a major investigative article about this charity and ritual fraud, the topic has been receiving wide coverage on KCBS, and the LA Times.
Pini Herman, PhD. specializes in demographics, big data and predictive analysis, 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 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