An urgent appeal was submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday demanding court action against the tradition of using live poultry in the practice of "Kapparot."
The action was taken by former Minister of Interior Avraham Poraz, on behalf of a movement of secular environmental activists, against the Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and the Israeli police.
Poraz claimed in the appeal that the practice of "Kapparot" violates the animal cruelty laws in Israel, which forbid torturing animals.
In 1994, Poraz was the MK who led the legislation for the law of Tsa'ar Ba'alei Chaim (the mandate not to cause “sorrow to living creatures”).
“Taking an animal, grabbing it by its legs or wings, twisting in the air and hurting it – this is cruelty.” said Poraz.
"Kapparot" is a tradition that takes place on the eve of Yom Kippur before the fast, where either an animal or coins are used as a tribute in atonement of the sins committed during the year. Traditionally, the animal would then be given to the needy as sustenance for the pre-Yom Kippur meal, and the coins would be donated to charity. Most observers of the tradition in Israel use coins, but certain communities are known to uphold the original practice.
The appeal demands that the Agriculture Ministry and the police enforce the protocols in place for handling these animals; guidelines which the petitioners claim are currently being blatantly overlooked. Poraz and his party requested police be sent to areas known for using live animals in "Kapparot" in the days before Kippur, so as to charge those participating with criminal activity.
Over the past week, the Agriculture Ministry has released advertisements encouraging the public to refrain from using poultry.
The radio broadcasts appealed to the religious community, advocating the virtue of tzdaka, giving money to the needy, and encouraging everyone to join the common practice of using maot, coins, in lieu of animals.
The Agriculture Ministry has issued similar ads in the past and said it is working on "educating the public" on the topic.
Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, this year falls on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018. According to surveys from past years, over 60 percent of the Jewish community in Israel fast during the day, and the entire country – those who are secular and non-Jewish minorities included –usually observe the holy day by refraining from driving, playing music or eating food in public places.