4 October 2018

Faith Action for Animals Kapparot Wrap-Up, September 23, 2018 plus statement by Ronnie Steinau following

On Behalf Of Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Faith Action for Animals
Sent: Sunday, September 23, 2018 5:30 PM
Subject: Kapparot Wrap-Up

Dear Allies of the Animals,

The activist circle that planned the various demos for this year's Kapparot season will be debriefing soon, but I want to update you a bit from my vantage point:

  1. We held a "Compassionate Kapparot" ceremony on Sunday afternoon, utilizing the liturgy attached to this email. The idea is to provide an alternative to the bloody and deadly approach we have seen for centuries in the Jewish community, using money instead of animals. Here's the event page for it: https://www.facebook.com/events/472847139882606/. This year, we had hoped to be joined by a local rabbi, but the challenge every year is that my colleagues who lead worship have very little time to put these things together. We raised $276 in bills, $2.69 in change (ironic number, eh? Some of you may know the Israeli animal rights organization 269 life) for a total of $278.69 to give to Sova, a Jewish Food Pantry that serves predominantly non-Jewish poor people in Los Angeles. Thus, the stark contrast couldn't be greater: While some kill chickens and throw their bodies away in the trash, people are actually giving food to the hungry of the community. This is an important message if we wish to change the culture of those who perform Kapparot....using money instead of chickens is kosher, but it's also a higher mitzvah (commandment) to give to poor people, something that is virtually impossible to do with the chickens because of the slaughterhouse license laws that prohibit the donations that are being unscrupulously alleged to happen.
  2. After the Compassionate Kapparot ceremony, most of those participating walked several blocks over to the home of Hershel Cohen for a home demo (done in accordance with the law). https://www.facebook.com/events/1764494590328141/. While he was not home when we were there, we received independent confirmation that very morning that he was doing his roving chicken Kapparot. Hershel has a sordid past with Kapparot; We learned from some who were upset with our protest that he is a butcher, and I believe he performs chicken slaughter year-round at his house. The demo was loud and proud, and the neighbors were both surprised to see us there and overall quite okay with our presence. Our impact? Unsure...but it was the right thing to do.
  3. That Sunday evening and on Monday, we held a Vigil for the Victims of Kapparot at the Hebrew Discovery Center on Ventura Blvd in the valley. This year, HDC was far more prepared for us than in the past, and they seemed to be 100% in cahoots with LAPD, who set up a preemptive "command center" across the street and made life impossible for activists. Honestly, it was completely shocking and depressing just how much LAPD limited our ability to speak, and I believe they violated our first amendment rights by preventing activists from using bullhorns on a public thoroughfare, significantly before 10pm. There may be damages owed to activists, who were threatened with confiscation of bullhorns and being cited. It was terrible.
  4. In IRVINE, there was an effort separate from our Los Angeles efforts to show up on Tuesday evening, Yom Kippur (Kol Nidrei) night, to protest the chicken slaughter which might have happened at or near the Chabad of Irvine the morning before. I did not recommend such activity, as it is disconnected from chicken Kapparot itself (that happened the morning before) and easily could become the basis for the assertion that Animal Rights activists are anti-Semitic. I have not heard a lot about how it went, but let's just hope that it did not lead to a worsening of relations. [See Ronnie Steinau's response to this concern in her summary below.]
  5. In addition to these four planned protests, we were aware of a couple of other situations, including a 2:30am Kapparot ceremony that we gather was very small within the Kabbalah Center, and a far more daunting pre-Yom Kippur eve (Tuesday morning) Kapparot ritual at the Waring Ave location that we've seen in the past. From what I can garner, while there was evidence of new structures being built, we did NOT see chickens at Waring Avenue. If this is incorrect, I can report back...I believe the structures may have been associated with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, which also begins this evening. In any case, we did not focus our energies at Waring or other Ashkenazic/Charedi/Ultra-Orthodox places, where we believe the fight would have pulled us away from the more low-hanging fruits of focusing on the Persian community.

As mentioned before, activists will meet to discuss their efforts this year; if there is new information to report back, we will. In the meantime, I am profoundly disappointed with local law enforcement efforts to squelch our First Amendment rights in multiple ways, and to essentially act as accomplices to the chicken slaughter that took place within Hebrew Discovery Center.

Kapparot: Basic Background & Liturgy FAFA Kapparot one-pager.pdf

To be continued!
Rabbi Jonathan Klein
Director, Faith Action For Animals
September 23, 2018

Faith Action for Animals is a coalition of faith leaders and activists who advocate and take action on behalf of animals who are exploited, abused, tortured and slaughtered for food, research, fashion and entertainment, utilizing religious language for animal and vegan advocacy.

To All,

Update on the Chabad of Irvine Vigil on September 18.

The vigil was held on that date because we could not locate the site of the kaporos ritual. In mid-summer we tried to schedule a meeting with Rabbi Tennenbaum but he was not interested. We feel that if we don’t speak out during Rosh Hashanah and just before Yom Kippur, we will not be voices for the birds and the horror will just continue as usual.

In the past, we have been called anti-Semitic by the practitioners at the kaporos rituals. It doesn’t seem to matter when we demonstrate.

There were about 10 of us who engaged in a peaceful sign holding vigil. We encouraged the activists who wanted to participate in non-aggressive/compassionate verbiage to do so, on a one by one basis. This worked out well. The vigil was held during the hours before sunset (from 5:30pm to 6:51pm) and prior to the Kol Nidre Services.

There were many congregants who gave us a “thumbs up” or mentioned that they do not participate in kaporos with chickens.

For the most part, the congregants did not lash out at us, make fun of us or abuse us.

YC, from Los Angeles, has reached out to me. He has studied the Talmud and the Torah for much of his life. He is vegan. He is willing to share his expertise and knowledge regarding Jewish law as it relates to the suffering of animals and to help with our campaigns in southern CA. I am planning to schedule a meeting for us so we will have more effective outreach regarding chickens as kaporos. The LA and OC activists in the circle are invited to attend. I will keep you advised of updates.

Ronnie Steinau
September 23, 2018