Archive for the ‘Pagan’ Category

More Pagan Judaism: Birkat ha-Hammah (Blessing of the Sun)

February 17, 2009

See the Birkat ha Levanah (Blessing of the Moon) here:

http://mauricepinay.blogspot.com/2007/02/blessing-of-moon.html

The global warming fraudsters of the “Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life” are celebrating Birkat ha-Hammah in association with B’nai Brith this year.

http://www.blessthesun.org/tiki-index.php?page=Advocacy

And they have a “Noahide” interfaith branch for the “goys.” Who knew! Note the “Noahide” rainbow:

http://www.theregenerationproject.org/

Jewish Groups Prepare for Rare Blessing of the Sun

February 17, 2009

As sunrise broke over New York City on the morning of April 8, 1981, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi — at the time he was known just as Zalman Schachter — stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and sounded the shofar.

For more than two hours after, Shachter-Shalomi led some 300 mostly young adults in an obscure Jewish ritual known as Birkat Hachamah, or blessing over the sun, a prayer recited once every 28 years when, the Talmud says, the sun reaches the same spot in the firmament as when it was created.

According to an account of the service in The New York Times, participants raised their hands in prayer, asked for healing for individuals and the earth, and released 70 balloons. At the conclusion, some worshipers joined in the singing of a Hebrew version of “Let the Sun Shine In” from the rock musical “Hair.”

The rite, Shachter-Shalomi told the Times, “helps us renew our relationship with the solar system and increase our awareness of the sun as a source of energy.”

Twenty-eight years later, Jews across the denominational spectrum are gearing up again for the observance with a range of planned celebrations, many of them environmentally focused. The sun prayer will be said, as it will several times in the 21st century, on April 8, which this year falls on the eve of Passover.

In the northern Israeli city of Safed, an eight-day festival is planned featuring several environmentally and kabbalistically inspired events, including the ceremonial burning of leavened bread on the morning before Passover by concentrating the sun’s rays through an optic lens.

“Over the last 28-year cycle, we have suffered from pollution and the depletion of natural resources,” said the festival founder, U.S.-based artist Eva Ariela Lindberg, in a news release. “Let us use this extraordinary opportunity to co-create the next cycle by seeking alternative solar energies and a purer environment, recharging ourselves and learning how to honor the earth, our neighbors and ourselves. This is a time to renew, and bring fresh blossoms to our world for the next 28-year cycle.”

In the United States, 14 Jewish organizations have joined to launch BlessTheSun.org, a Web site with links to various educational materials and ideas for April 8 activities. The site asks users to sign a Covenant of Commitment in which they “pledge to hasten the day of environmental healing, social justice and sustainable living for all.”

Five of the groups also are sponsoring an art competition for works “interpreting aspects of the sun and exploring the relationship between Judaism and the environment.” And the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism has designed a 68-page study text on the prayer emphasizing environmental themes.

“Growing up, there was almost a fear in recognizing that our holidays and calendar are indicative of an earth-based religion,” said Nati Passow, co-founder of the Jewish Farm School, one of the groups behind BlessTheSun. “That doesn’t necessarily mean idol worship or earth worship, but it means that the calendar and the cycles were a reflection of people who lived with a greater awareness of natural cycles than we have now. And so any time you can teach people about elements of our tradition that are earth-based, and especially the ones that are hidden and not as well known, it’s a way of bringing people into Judaism.”

The prayer, whose origins lie in the Talmud, blesses God “who makes the work of creation” and is the same blessing said over other rare natural phenomena, like lightning or a meteor.

Its Talmudic origins mean that the sun blessing is hardly the sole province of liberal Jewish environmental groups.

ArtScroll Publications, an Orthodox publishing house, has reissued an updated version of Rabbi J. David Bleich’s seminal 1981 book “Birchas Hachamah,” probably the most definitive English-language treatment of the subject. And Canfei Nesharim, an Orthodox environmental group, is working on a number of initiatives, including a sun-themed mishloach manot — the food baskets traditionally given on the holiday of Purim, which falls about a month before the sun blessing.

Bleich’s book includes a rigorously detailed discussion of the evolution of the Jewish calendar and the complex calculations of lunar and solar cycles that determine the dates of Jewish observances.

“The blessing on this occasion, it would seem, is evocative rather than responsive,” wrote Bleich, a professor of Jewish law and ethics at Yeshiva University. “It is designed to arouse man from his lethargy, to force him to reflect upon this cosmic phenomenon, to summon him to contemplation. Marking yet another solar milestone in the calendar of eternity, the occasion calls out to man: Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?”

Despite the complexity of the Talmudic discussion, the determination of April 8 is almost certainly inaccurate, Bleich told JTA. But the sages of the Talmud ordained the blessing not as a precise astronomical commemoration, Bleich said, but as a pedagogic device to impress upon future generations God’s continuing role in sustaining the universe.

Asked about Jewish groups that want to infuse the blessing with an environmental message, Bleich said, “I wish them luck.”

http://forward.com/articles/103089/

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More Pagan Judaism: Birkat ha-Hammah (Blessing of the Sun)

February 17, 2009

See the Birkat ha Levanah (Blessing of the Moon) here:

http://mauricepinay.blogspot.com/2007/02/blessing-of-moon.html

The global warming fraudsters of the “Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life” are celebrating Birkat ha-Hammah in association with B’nai Brith this year.

http://www.blessthesun.org/tiki-index.php?page=Advocacy

And they have a “Noahide” interfaith branch for the “goys.” Who knew! Note the “Noahide” rainbow:

http://www.theregenerationproject.org/

Jewish Groups Prepare for Rare Blessing of the Sun

February 17, 2009

As sunrise broke over New York City on the morning of April 8, 1981, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi — at the time he was known just as Zalman Schachter — stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building and sounded the shofar.

For more than two hours after, Shachter-Shalomi led some 300 mostly young adults in an obscure Jewish ritual known as Birkat Hachamah, or blessing over the sun, a prayer recited once every 28 years when, the Talmud says, the sun reaches the same spot in the firmament as when it was created.

According to an account of the service in The New York Times, participants raised their hands in prayer, asked for healing for individuals and the earth, and released 70 balloons. At the conclusion, some worshipers joined in the singing of a Hebrew version of “Let the Sun Shine In” from the rock musical “Hair.”

The rite, Shachter-Shalomi told the Times, “helps us renew our relationship with the solar system and increase our awareness of the sun as a source of energy.”

Twenty-eight years later, Jews across the denominational spectrum are gearing up again for the observance with a range of planned celebrations, many of them environmentally focused. The sun prayer will be said, as it will several times in the 21st century, on April 8, which this year falls on the eve of Passover.

In the northern Israeli city of Safed, an eight-day festival is planned featuring several environmentally and kabbalistically inspired events, including the ceremonial burning of leavened bread on the morning before Passover by concentrating the sun’s rays through an optic lens.

“Over the last 28-year cycle, we have suffered from pollution and the depletion of natural resources,” said the festival founder, U.S.-based artist Eva Ariela Lindberg, in a news release. “Let us use this extraordinary opportunity to co-create the next cycle by seeking alternative solar energies and a purer environment, recharging ourselves and learning how to honor the earth, our neighbors and ourselves. This is a time to renew, and bring fresh blossoms to our world for the next 28-year cycle.”

In the United States, 14 Jewish organizations have joined to launch BlessTheSun.org, a Web site with links to various educational materials and ideas for April 8 activities. The site asks users to sign a Covenant of Commitment in which they “pledge to hasten the day of environmental healing, social justice and sustainable living for all.”

Five of the groups also are sponsoring an art competition for works “interpreting aspects of the sun and exploring the relationship between Judaism and the environment.” And the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism has designed a 68-page study text on the prayer emphasizing environmental themes.

“Growing up, there was almost a fear in recognizing that our holidays and calendar are indicative of an earth-based religion,” said Nati Passow, co-founder of the Jewish Farm School, one of the groups behind BlessTheSun. “That doesn’t necessarily mean idol worship or earth worship, but it means that the calendar and the cycles were a reflection of people who lived with a greater awareness of natural cycles than we have now. And so any time you can teach people about elements of our tradition that are earth-based, and especially the ones that are hidden and not as well known, it’s a way of bringing people into Judaism.”

The prayer, whose origins lie in the Talmud, blesses God “who makes the work of creation” and is the same blessing said over other rare natural phenomena, like lightning or a meteor.

Its Talmudic origins mean that the sun blessing is hardly the sole province of liberal Jewish environmental groups.

ArtScroll Publications, an Orthodox publishing house, has reissued an updated version of Rabbi J. David Bleich’s seminal 1981 book “Birchas Hachamah,” probably the most definitive English-language treatment of the subject. And Canfei Nesharim, an Orthodox environmental group, is working on a number of initiatives, including a sun-themed mishloach manot — the food baskets traditionally given on the holiday of Purim, which falls about a month before the sun blessing.

Bleich’s book includes a rigorously detailed discussion of the evolution of the Jewish calendar and the complex calculations of lunar and solar cycles that determine the dates of Jewish observances.

“The blessing on this occasion, it would seem, is evocative rather than responsive,” wrote Bleich, a professor of Jewish law and ethics at Yeshiva University. “It is designed to arouse man from his lethargy, to force him to reflect upon this cosmic phenomenon, to summon him to contemplation. Marking yet another solar milestone in the calendar of eternity, the occasion calls out to man: Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?”

Despite the complexity of the Talmudic discussion, the determination of April 8 is almost certainly inaccurate, Bleich told JTA. But the sages of the Talmud ordained the blessing not as a precise astronomical commemoration, Bleich said, but as a pedagogic device to impress upon future generations God’s continuing role in sustaining the universe.

Asked about Jewish groups that want to infuse the blessing with an environmental message, Bleich said, “I wish them luck.”

http://forward.com/articles/103089/

"Elder Brothers’" Voodoo Ritual Comes Under PETA Scrutiny

August 26, 2008

More on Kapparot in Judaism Discovered pp. 516-520.

Also see:
Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

PETA alleges bird dumping at High Holidays ritual in Brooklyn

PETA undercover cameras show chicken carcasses piled in a Dumpster after slaughtering at the kapparot center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2006.

By Sue Fishkoff – 08/25/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapparot, the High Holidays ritual that involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

The ceremony is meant to transfer one’s sins to the bird, which is then slaughtered and its meat or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor.

Instead, the rights group charges, thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in Dumpsters following last year’s ritual in Brooklyn, a violation of Jewish law and a burden on sanitation workers.

It’s the second year in a row that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is objecting to kapparot — also pronounced kapparos — in the New York City borough, but the first year it is focusing on dumping dead birds.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty.

On Monday, in a letter to the state’s kosher law enforcement division, PETA asks that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education be investigated for possible consumer fraud at the kapparot center he runs in Crown Heights.

The letter charges that on Sept. 20, 2007, the center discarded thousands of chickens slaughtered after the ceremony, throwing their carcasses into hundreds of trash bags picked up the next day by Greg’s Express.

“These are chickens that consumers expected to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, it states. “Participants at NCFJE clearly did not expect the chickens they made kapporos with … to be disposed of as trash.”

As the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, the complaint continues, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of “ba’al tashchit,” or wasteful, wanton destruction.

A separate letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Hecht vehemently denies PETA’s allegation.

“To my knowledge I didn’t throw out any chickens last year,” he told JTA. “Last time I checked, in this country we have a right to swing a chicken over our head and give it to the poor to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the rabbinic administrator of the information center, said that sites operated by communal organizations such as Hecht’s are well run. Weiner acknowledged problems at unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” but said the situation had significantly improved because of proactive steps taken by area rabbis.

Nevetheless he is taking the situation seriously, he told JTA, and has already called for a meeting of leading rabbis, the state authorities and Hecht to address PETA’s concerns. “If something is wrong we have to clean up our act,” he said. “We are not shrugging it off.”

The recent complaints are based on the work of PETA staffers Hannah and Philip Schein, a married couple who have been documenting what they allege to be health, safety and animal welfare abuses at Brooklyn’s estimated 14 kapparot centers for the past three years. They were chosen because they are Jewish, they say; and both are former Hillel program directors — Hannah at Princeton University and Philip at Syracuse.

Although this year’s letter focused on disposal problems, animal welfare continues to be a concern, the Scheins say. Some centers become overwhelmed by demand and use young men not properly trained in shechting, or kosher slaughter, they say.

“They’re supposed to put the chickens in cones to bleed out,” said Hannah Schein, showing a video the couple shot at one Brooklyn center last year. “These youngsters were just taking them after shechting and putting them in garbage bags.”

Pointing to several Chasidic boys standing in a Dumpster surrounded by chicken carcasses, she asked, “How is this fulfilling my mitzvah of kapparos?”

The Scheins, who live near PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va., came to light earlier this year as the couple responsible for the first undercover videos of controversial slaughter methods at Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, that is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom.

“Here you can see, in the whole shechting area, they’re piled five to six layers high,” said Philip Schein, walking a reporter through footage he shot at kapparot sites in 2005 and 2006. “Some of them are still alive. There’s blood everywhere. It’s the most unhygienic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Weiner told JTA that “chickens were dumped” at some sites. One site in Flatbush, which did not operate last year, was a notorious violator.

“They slaughtered too many, couldn’t process them, then dumped them in the garbage,” Weiner recalled.

Talking about the unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” he said, “They buy chickens, hire a shochet and have no supervision. It’s true, it got out of hand.” But, Weiner added, things were much better last year.

A week after the PETA complaint was submitted on July 30, 2007, about a dozen leading rabbis met to discuss how to clean up kapparot and clamp down on the worst offenders.

In a letter signed by 27 of their colleagues, the rabbis warned local Jews to patronize only those kapparot centers with rabbinic supervision.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the director of the Brooklyn office of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State agriculture department, said that every center was told it must have a rabbi on site from the time the chickens arrived early in the morning through the slaughter process to ensure the animals are given food, water and appropriate shelter.

Weiner said at least three centers decided not to open because they did not want to pay for such supervision.

“There were people walking around from place to place, checking,” Weiss said. “Thank God, it went very well.”

Not that well, the Scheins claim. While they did see latex gloves and other indications of health and safety precautions at last year’s kapparot sites, the Scheins said the chicken dumping and other animal welfare issues were as bad as ever.

Weiss said he received no reports of dumping in 2007.

For years, Orthodox groups have warned against sloppy kapparot sites in Brooklyn. In 2001, Kashrus magazine, a watchdog publication for the kosher industry, urged much tighter control over kapparot.

For the past five years, the Kashrus Information Center has warned Jewish consumers about violations it observed at some centers and issued guidelines for correct practice.

The problem is that no one agency of any kind, religious or government, is in charge of overseeing or enforcing kapparot. The Scheins found that out when they submitted their first complaint last year. Each agency passed the buck to the next, they said.

“The power is in the hands of the consumer,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union, one of the rabbis at last year’s August meeting. “The consumer has to say, ‘I will not go to a kapparot center that is not supervised.’ And their rabbi has to tell them not to go.”

In preparation for this year’s kapparot, which will take place Oct. 2-8 throughout the borough, rabbis again are urging the Jewish public to keep its eyes open and telling kapparot centers to obey the law, secular and Jewish.

In its summer issue, Kashrus magazine printed a nine-point guideline for ethical and safe kapparot worked out by the magazine’s publisher, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, in cooperation with kosher slaughter expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University.

Weiner worries about bringing the state into the issue.

“It could open up the door for groups like PETA to give trouble to the legal ones,” putting the entire ritual in jeopardy, he said.

That’s OK with the Scheins, who point out that Jewish law allows one to give money to charity instead of swinging a chicken. Today it is primarily Chasidim who still observe the full ritual.

That may be so, Weiner said, “but each community has the right to practice its own customs.”

Nevertheless, he added, it must be done “in a legal and humane way.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080825kapporosPETA08252008.html

"Elder Brothers’" Voodoo Ritual Comes Under PETA Scrutiny

August 26, 2008

More on Kapparot in Judaism Discovered pp. 516-520.

Also see:
Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

PETA alleges bird dumping at High Holidays ritual in Brooklyn

PETA undercover cameras show chicken carcasses piled in a Dumpster after slaughtering at the kapparot center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2006.

By Sue Fishkoff – 08/25/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapparot, the High Holidays ritual that involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

The ceremony is meant to transfer one’s sins to the bird, which is then slaughtered and its meat or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor.

Instead, the rights group charges, thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in Dumpsters following last year’s ritual in Brooklyn, a violation of Jewish law and a burden on sanitation workers.

It’s the second year in a row that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is objecting to kapparot — also pronounced kapparos — in the New York City borough, but the first year it is focusing on dumping dead birds.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty.

On Monday, in a letter to the state’s kosher law enforcement division, PETA asks that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education be investigated for possible consumer fraud at the kapparot center he runs in Crown Heights.

The letter charges that on Sept. 20, 2007, the center discarded thousands of chickens slaughtered after the ceremony, throwing their carcasses into hundreds of trash bags picked up the next day by Greg’s Express.

“These are chickens that consumers expected to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, it states. “Participants at NCFJE clearly did not expect the chickens they made kapporos with … to be disposed of as trash.”

As the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, the complaint continues, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of “ba’al tashchit,” or wasteful, wanton destruction.

A separate letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Hecht vehemently denies PETA’s allegation.

“To my knowledge I didn’t throw out any chickens last year,” he told JTA. “Last time I checked, in this country we have a right to swing a chicken over our head and give it to the poor to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the rabbinic administrator of the information center, said that sites operated by communal organizations such as Hecht’s are well run. Weiner acknowledged problems at unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” but said the situation had significantly improved because of proactive steps taken by area rabbis.

Nevetheless he is taking the situation seriously, he told JTA, and has already called for a meeting of leading rabbis, the state authorities and Hecht to address PETA’s concerns. “If something is wrong we have to clean up our act,” he said. “We are not shrugging it off.”

The recent complaints are based on the work of PETA staffers Hannah and Philip Schein, a married couple who have been documenting what they allege to be health, safety and animal welfare abuses at Brooklyn’s estimated 14 kapparot centers for the past three years. They were chosen because they are Jewish, they say; and both are former Hillel program directors — Hannah at Princeton University and Philip at Syracuse.

Although this year’s letter focused on disposal problems, animal welfare continues to be a concern, the Scheins say. Some centers become overwhelmed by demand and use young men not properly trained in shechting, or kosher slaughter, they say.

“They’re supposed to put the chickens in cones to bleed out,” said Hannah Schein, showing a video the couple shot at one Brooklyn center last year. “These youngsters were just taking them after shechting and putting them in garbage bags.”

Pointing to several Chasidic boys standing in a Dumpster surrounded by chicken carcasses, she asked, “How is this fulfilling my mitzvah of kapparos?”

The Scheins, who live near PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va., came to light earlier this year as the couple responsible for the first undercover videos of controversial slaughter methods at Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, that is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom.

“Here you can see, in the whole shechting area, they’re piled five to six layers high,” said Philip Schein, walking a reporter through footage he shot at kapparot sites in 2005 and 2006. “Some of them are still alive. There’s blood everywhere. It’s the most unhygienic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Weiner told JTA that “chickens were dumped” at some sites. One site in Flatbush, which did not operate last year, was a notorious violator.

“They slaughtered too many, couldn’t process them, then dumped them in the garbage,” Weiner recalled.

Talking about the unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” he said, “They buy chickens, hire a shochet and have no supervision. It’s true, it got out of hand.” But, Weiner added, things were much better last year.

A week after the PETA complaint was submitted on July 30, 2007, about a dozen leading rabbis met to discuss how to clean up kapparot and clamp down on the worst offenders.

In a letter signed by 27 of their colleagues, the rabbis warned local Jews to patronize only those kapparot centers with rabbinic supervision.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the director of the Brooklyn office of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State agriculture department, said that every center was told it must have a rabbi on site from the time the chickens arrived early in the morning through the slaughter process to ensure the animals are given food, water and appropriate shelter.

Weiner said at least three centers decided not to open because they did not want to pay for such supervision.

“There were people walking around from place to place, checking,” Weiss said. “Thank God, it went very well.”

Not that well, the Scheins claim. While they did see latex gloves and other indications of health and safety precautions at last year’s kapparot sites, the Scheins said the chicken dumping and other animal welfare issues were as bad as ever.

Weiss said he received no reports of dumping in 2007.

For years, Orthodox groups have warned against sloppy kapparot sites in Brooklyn. In 2001, Kashrus magazine, a watchdog publication for the kosher industry, urged much tighter control over kapparot.

For the past five years, the Kashrus Information Center has warned Jewish consumers about violations it observed at some centers and issued guidelines for correct practice.

The problem is that no one agency of any kind, religious or government, is in charge of overseeing or enforcing kapparot. The Scheins found that out when they submitted their first complaint last year. Each agency passed the buck to the next, they said.

“The power is in the hands of the consumer,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union, one of the rabbis at last year’s August meeting. “The consumer has to say, ‘I will not go to a kapparot center that is not supervised.’ And their rabbi has to tell them not to go.”

In preparation for this year’s kapparot, which will take place Oct. 2-8 throughout the borough, rabbis again are urging the Jewish public to keep its eyes open and telling kapparot centers to obey the law, secular and Jewish.

In its summer issue, Kashrus magazine printed a nine-point guideline for ethical and safe kapparot worked out by the magazine’s publisher, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, in cooperation with kosher slaughter expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University.

Weiner worries about bringing the state into the issue.

“It could open up the door for groups like PETA to give trouble to the legal ones,” putting the entire ritual in jeopardy, he said.

That’s OK with the Scheins, who point out that Jewish law allows one to give money to charity instead of swinging a chicken. Today it is primarily Chasidim who still observe the full ritual.

That may be so, Weiner said, “but each community has the right to practice its own customs.”

Nevertheless, he added, it must be done “in a legal and humane way.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080825kapporosPETA08252008.html

"Elder Brothers’" Voodoo Ritual Comes Under PETA Scrutiny

August 26, 2008

More on Kapparot in Judaism Discovered pp. 516-520.

Also see:
Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

PETA alleges bird dumping at High Holidays ritual in Brooklyn

PETA undercover cameras show chicken carcasses piled in a Dumpster after slaughtering at the kapparot center in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 2006.

By Sue Fishkoff – 08/25/2008

NEW YORK (JTA) — An animal rights group is calling for a New York state investigation into kapparot, the High Holidays ritual that involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head.

The ceremony is meant to transfer one’s sins to the bird, which is then slaughtered and its meat or an equivalent monetary amount, is given to the poor.

Instead, the rights group charges, thousands of dead chickens were thrown away in Dumpsters following last year’s ritual in Brooklyn, a violation of Jewish law and a burden on sanitation workers.

It’s the second year in a row that the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is objecting to kapparot — also pronounced kapparos — in the New York City borough, but the first year it is focusing on dumping dead birds.

Last summer’s complaint to the state and city was more wide ranging, alleging a variety of health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty.

On Monday, in a letter to the state’s kosher law enforcement division, PETA asks that Rabbi Shea Hecht of the National Committee for the Furtherance of Jewish Education be investigated for possible consumer fraud at the kapparot center he runs in Crown Heights.

The letter charges that on Sept. 20, 2007, the center discarded thousands of chickens slaughtered after the ceremony, throwing their carcasses into hundreds of trash bags picked up the next day by Greg’s Express.

“These are chickens that consumers expected to be processed for meat that would be distributed as tzedakah,” or charity, it states. “Participants at NCFJE clearly did not expect the chickens they made kapporos with … to be disposed of as trash.”

As the center knew it was selling and killing more chickens than it could process, the complaint continues, its actions constituted deceptive advertising and consumer fraud, as well as a violation of the principle of “ba’al tashchit,” or wasteful, wanton destruction.

A separate letter was submitted to the Kashrus Information Center, an independent association of more than 100 rabbis that monitors kosher affairs in Brooklyn.

Hecht vehemently denies PETA’s allegation.

“To my knowledge I didn’t throw out any chickens last year,” he told JTA. “Last time I checked, in this country we have a right to swing a chicken over our head and give it to the poor to eat. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Rabbi Moshe Weiner, the rabbinic administrator of the information center, said that sites operated by communal organizations such as Hecht’s are well run. Weiner acknowledged problems at unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” but said the situation had significantly improved because of proactive steps taken by area rabbis.

Nevetheless he is taking the situation seriously, he told JTA, and has already called for a meeting of leading rabbis, the state authorities and Hecht to address PETA’s concerns. “If something is wrong we have to clean up our act,” he said. “We are not shrugging it off.”

The recent complaints are based on the work of PETA staffers Hannah and Philip Schein, a married couple who have been documenting what they allege to be health, safety and animal welfare abuses at Brooklyn’s estimated 14 kapparot centers for the past three years. They were chosen because they are Jewish, they say; and both are former Hillel program directors — Hannah at Princeton University and Philip at Syracuse.

Although this year’s letter focused on disposal problems, animal welfare continues to be a concern, the Scheins say. Some centers become overwhelmed by demand and use young men not properly trained in shechting, or kosher slaughter, they say.

“They’re supposed to put the chickens in cones to bleed out,” said Hannah Schein, showing a video the couple shot at one Brooklyn center last year. “These youngsters were just taking them after shechting and putting them in garbage bags.”

Pointing to several Chasidic boys standing in a Dumpster surrounded by chicken carcasses, she asked, “How is this fulfilling my mitzvah of kapparos?”

The Scheins, who live near PETA headquarters in Norfolk, Va., came to light earlier this year as the couple responsible for the first undercover videos of controversial slaughter methods at Agriprocessors, the kosher meat plant in Postville, Iowa, that is currently at the center of a legal maelstrom.

“Here you can see, in the whole shechting area, they’re piled five to six layers high,” said Philip Schein, walking a reporter through footage he shot at kapparot sites in 2005 and 2006. “Some of them are still alive. There’s blood everywhere. It’s the most unhygienic thing I’ve ever seen.”

Weiner told JTA that “chickens were dumped” at some sites. One site in Flatbush, which did not operate last year, was a notorious violator.

“They slaughtered too many, couldn’t process them, then dumped them in the garbage,” Weiner recalled.

Talking about the unlicensed “fly-by-nights,” he said, “They buy chickens, hire a shochet and have no supervision. It’s true, it got out of hand.” But, Weiner added, things were much better last year.

A week after the PETA complaint was submitted on July 30, 2007, about a dozen leading rabbis met to discuss how to clean up kapparot and clamp down on the worst offenders.

In a letter signed by 27 of their colleagues, the rabbis warned local Jews to patronize only those kapparot centers with rabbinic supervision.

Rabbi Luzer Weiss, the director of the Brooklyn office of the Kosher Law Enforcement Division of the New York State agriculture department, said that every center was told it must have a rabbi on site from the time the chickens arrived early in the morning through the slaughter process to ensure the animals are given food, water and appropriate shelter.

Weiner said at least three centers decided not to open because they did not want to pay for such supervision.

“There were people walking around from place to place, checking,” Weiss said. “Thank God, it went very well.”

Not that well, the Scheins claim. While they did see latex gloves and other indications of health and safety precautions at last year’s kapparot sites, the Scheins said the chicken dumping and other animal welfare issues were as bad as ever.

Weiss said he received no reports of dumping in 2007.

For years, Orthodox groups have warned against sloppy kapparot sites in Brooklyn. In 2001, Kashrus magazine, a watchdog publication for the kosher industry, urged much tighter control over kapparot.

For the past five years, the Kashrus Information Center has warned Jewish consumers about violations it observed at some centers and issued guidelines for correct practice.

The problem is that no one agency of any kind, religious or government, is in charge of overseeing or enforcing kapparot. The Scheins found that out when they submitted their first complaint last year. Each agency passed the buck to the next, they said.

“The power is in the hands of the consumer,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant of the Orthodox Union, one of the rabbis at last year’s August meeting. “The consumer has to say, ‘I will not go to a kapparot center that is not supervised.’ And their rabbi has to tell them not to go.”

In preparation for this year’s kapparot, which will take place Oct. 2-8 throughout the borough, rabbis again are urging the Jewish public to keep its eyes open and telling kapparot centers to obey the law, secular and Jewish.

In its summer issue, Kashrus magazine printed a nine-point guideline for ethical and safe kapparot worked out by the magazine’s publisher, Rabbi Yosef Wikler, in cooperation with kosher slaughter expert Dr. Joe Regenstein of Cornell University.

Weiner worries about bringing the state into the issue.

“It could open up the door for groups like PETA to give trouble to the legal ones,” putting the entire ritual in jeopardy, he said.

That’s OK with the Scheins, who point out that Jewish law allows one to give money to charity instead of swinging a chicken. Today it is primarily Chasidim who still observe the full ritual.

That may be so, Weiner said, “but each community has the right to practice its own customs.”

Nevertheless, he added, it must be done “in a legal and humane way.”

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/news/article/20080825kapporosPETA08252008.html

Bishop Rhoades Observed "Yom HaShoah"

May 1, 2008

May 1 is a day associated with many pagan spring celebrations including May Day, Beltane, and the pre-Christianized Walpurgis Night. We may now add to that list of pagan holidays, “Yom HaShoah” a commemoration of the psychodrama of the Kabbalistic six million which is commemorated every other day of the year besides and which forms the basis for the six-pointed Zionist state.

Earlier, we noted that the temple of Holocaustolatry in Washington D.C., the taxpayer-funded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was consecrated on pagan feast day, Earth Day, April 22.

Bishop Rhoades celebrated “Yom HaShoah” with the rabbis on the evening of April 30th, what is traditionally Walpurgis night.

Catholic bishop to give talk at Jewish memorial program

The Jewish Community Alliance of Lancaster will present its annual Yom HaShoah memorial program from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at the Lancaster Jewish Community Center, 2120 Oregon Pike.

The Yom HaShoah program is designed to commemorate the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, will serve as keynote speaker; his talk will be “The Holocaust and Catholic-Jewish Relations.”

Rhoades was among five bishops and three rabbis from the United States to travel last fall to Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in southern Poland; Krakow, Poland; and the Vatican, in Italy, as part of an interfaith study tour.

In addition, the Yom HaShoah program will include readings led by the rabbis of Lancaster’s three synagogues: Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, Rabbi Stephan Parnes of Temple Beth El and Rabbi Shaya Sackett of Congregation Degel Israel.

There will also be a candlelighting memorial by members of the Lancaster community who are survivors of the Holocaust, as well as traditional prayers led by the rabbis.

Holocaust candles will be available for those who would like to have them; the program is open to all. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, call Elisabeth S. Shuster, Yom Ha-Shoah program chairwoman, at 665-7323 (evenings), or write to her at dollyshuster@dejazzd.com.

http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/219315

From Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the scene titled “Walpurgis Night.”

Faust: Spirit of Contradiction! On! and lead the way!
It was a very clever notion, I must say;
We seek the [witches’] Brocken on Walpurgis Night,
Yet choose to isolate ourselves when near the height!

Mephistopheles: What motley flames! Just look along the heather!
There is a jolly club together.
In little circles one is not alone.

Faust: I’d rather be up yonder, I must own.
Already whirling smoke and glow come into view.
A host is streaming to the Devil! See them ride!
Full many a riddle there must be untied.

Mephistopheles: Yet many a riddle will be tied anew.
Just let the great world whiz and riot;
We’ll house us meanwhile here in quiet.
We’ve known it as a fact of ancient date
That men make little worlds within the great …

Bishop Rhoades Observed "Yom HaShoah"

May 1, 2008

May 1 is a day associated with many pagan spring celebrations including May Day, Beltane, and the pre-Christianized Walpurgis Night. We may now add to that list of pagan holidays, “Yom HaShoah” a commemoration of the psychodrama of the Kabbalistic six million which is commemorated every other day of the year besides and which forms the basis for the six-pointed Zionist state.

Earlier, we noted that the temple of Holocaustolatry in Washington D.C., the taxpayer-funded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, was consecrated on pagan feast day, Earth Day, April 22.

Bishop Rhoades celebrated “Yom HaShoah” with the rabbis on the evening of April 30th, what is traditionally Walpurgis night.

Catholic bishop to give talk at Jewish memorial program

The Jewish Community Alliance of Lancaster will present its annual Yom HaShoah memorial program from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30, at the Lancaster Jewish Community Center, 2120 Oregon Pike.

The Yom HaShoah program is designed to commemorate the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, of the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, will serve as keynote speaker; his talk will be “The Holocaust and Catholic-Jewish Relations.”

Rhoades was among five bishops and three rabbis from the United States to travel last fall to Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in southern Poland; Krakow, Poland; and the Vatican, in Italy, as part of an interfaith study tour.

In addition, the Yom HaShoah program will include readings led by the rabbis of Lancaster’s three synagogues: Rabbi Jack Paskoff of Congregation Shaarai Shomayim, Rabbi Stephan Parnes of Temple Beth El and Rabbi Shaya Sackett of Congregation Degel Israel.

There will also be a candlelighting memorial by members of the Lancaster community who are survivors of the Holocaust, as well as traditional prayers led by the rabbis.

Holocaust candles will be available for those who would like to have them; the program is open to all. Light refreshments will be served.

For more information, call Elisabeth S. Shuster, Yom Ha-Shoah program chairwoman, at 665-7323 (evenings), or write to her at dollyshuster@dejazzd.com.

http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/219315

From Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the scene titled “Walpurgis Night.”

Faust: Spirit of Contradiction! On! and lead the way!
It was a very clever notion, I must say;
We seek the [witches’] Brocken on Walpurgis Night,
Yet choose to isolate ourselves when near the height!

Mephistopheles: What motley flames! Just look along the heather!
There is a jolly club together.
In little circles one is not alone.

Faust: I’d rather be up yonder, I must own.
Already whirling smoke and glow come into view.
A host is streaming to the Devil! See them ride!
Full many a riddle there must be untied.

Mephistopheles: Yet many a riddle will be tied anew.
Just let the great world whiz and riot;
We’ll house us meanwhile here in quiet.
We’ve known it as a fact of ancient date
That men make little worlds within the great …

Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

September 20, 2007
Ultra-Orthodox Jews performing the “kapparot.”

The ancient [kapparot] ceremony involves swinging a live chicken overhead in a ritual transference of the person’s sins in preparation for the day of atonement. It may be performed anytime between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (“Court rules ‘kapparot’ ritual violates animal slaughter laws,” Amiram Cohen and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, September 18, 2007)

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/904943.html

“An animal used as a sort of vicarious sacrifice on the day previous to the Day of Atonement. As a rule, a cock is taken by a male, and a hen by a female person, and after the recitation of Ps. cvii. 17-20 and Job xxxiii. 23-24 the fowl is swung around the head three times while the right hand is put upon the animal’s head. At the same time the following is thrice said in Hebrew: “This be my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement. This cock [or hen] shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace!” After this the animal is slaughtered and given to the poor, or, what is deemed better, is eaten by the owners while the value of it is given to the poor.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, “kapparah”)
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=101&letter=K

Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

September 20, 2007
Ultra-Orthodox Jews performing the “kapparot.”

The ancient [kapparot] ceremony involves swinging a live chicken overhead in a ritual transference of the person’s sins in preparation for the day of atonement. It may be performed anytime between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (“Court rules ‘kapparot’ ritual violates animal slaughter laws,” Amiram Cohen and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, September 18, 2007)

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/904943.html

“An animal used as a sort of vicarious sacrifice on the day previous to the Day of Atonement. As a rule, a cock is taken by a male, and a hen by a female person, and after the recitation of Ps. cvii. 17-20 and Job xxxiii. 23-24 the fowl is swung around the head three times while the right hand is put upon the animal’s head. At the same time the following is thrice said in Hebrew: “This be my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement. This cock [or hen] shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace!” After this the animal is slaughtered and given to the poor, or, what is deemed better, is eaten by the owners while the value of it is given to the poor.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, “kapparah”)
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=101&letter=K

Benedict’s Elder Brothers and their Voodoo Ritual

September 20, 2007
Ultra-Orthodox Jews performing the “kapparot.”

The ancient [kapparot] ceremony involves swinging a live chicken overhead in a ritual transference of the person’s sins in preparation for the day of atonement. It may be performed anytime between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (“Court rules ‘kapparot’ ritual violates animal slaughter laws,” Amiram Cohen and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz, September 18, 2007)

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/904943.html

“An animal used as a sort of vicarious sacrifice on the day previous to the Day of Atonement. As a rule, a cock is taken by a male, and a hen by a female person, and after the recitation of Ps. cvii. 17-20 and Job xxxiii. 23-24 the fowl is swung around the head three times while the right hand is put upon the animal’s head. At the same time the following is thrice said in Hebrew: “This be my substitute, my vicarious offering, my atonement. This cock [or hen] shall meet death, but I shall find a long and pleasant life of peace!” After this the animal is slaughtered and given to the poor, or, what is deemed better, is eaten by the owners while the value of it is given to the poor.” (Jewish Encyclopedia, “kapparah”)
http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=101&letter=K