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Yom Kippur may have long since passed, but someone apparently wants a Borough Park woman to atone for her campaign to end an ancient Jewish ritual critics say is inhumane.
On Saturday night, Rina Deych’s 46th Street home was splattered with blood-red paint, coating her front steps and porch in viscous crimson puddles, and defacing a banner hung from a second floor room that reads, “Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos.”
Kaporos is the Orthodox Jewish practice of swinging a chicken over one’s head during a ritual that believers say imparts their sins into the doomed bird, whose throat is then slit by a rabbi.
The practice, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is typically performed during the week leading up to Yom Kippur, and is considered a form of atonement, or “kaporos” in Hebrew.
On Sept. 12, the Alliance rallied on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights to chide the practice. Despite living in heavily Orthodox Borough Park, Deych has kept her banner displayed since then, and said the vandalism will not silence her.
“Absolutely not,” she vowed. “It’s important to me to remind people that there is an alternative to using chickens,” she said, pointing out that coins are routinely employed as a fowl-substitute.
Still, Deych, who is Jewish, conceded that the banner most likely “stirred up a lot of passion.”
“I understand they are angry, but freedom of speech is legal,” she said. “Vandalism is not.”
Anti-kaporos advocates blasted the vandalism.
“It does not take courage to slaughter a helpless chicken, and it does not take courage to sneak up on a person’s home anonymously and damage it,” said Karen Davis, of the United Poultry Concerns, a Virginia-based non-profit that promotes the respectful treatment of chickens and other fowl. “It shows a spirit of unkindness and cruelty not only to chickens but to people who have conducted themselves and expressed their opposition with civility toward those whose behavior they decry.”
Kaporos practitioners did not excuse the vandalism — even though they objected to Deych’s campaign.
“Once you do and throw paint on people’s property, that is wrong,” said Rabbi Berish Rubin of Borough Park. “It’s always better to ignore signs.”
He said his use of chickens as kaporos boils down to one thing: tradition. “I use live birds because my father did, and my grandfather, and my great grandfather.”
A police source at the 66th Precinct said cops are still investigating the case.
Ironically, it is animal rights activists, such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, that are notorious for tossing red paint on celebrities who wear fur, or even on baby seals, to ruin their pelts — and save them from a brutal clubbing.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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