Monday, October 15, 2007

To Kill A Cluckingbird

Well, as long as I'm still homeless, I'll post some pics from my trip to Walnut Creek.

The night before Yom Kippur, I had the opportunity to partake in one of the less-publicized little Chabad customs known as Kapparot (attonement.)

Nissin girds his soul for attonement.

The idea is pretty simple. First you get some chickens.

The chickens are here.

"Hey Ned, whaddya think we're doing here?"

Next, you pick up the chicken. Nissin is always nearby for guidance.

Eitan with chicken.

"Hi, my name's Mike!"

Then, you read from the siddur (prayer book) about putting your sins on the chicken.

"No, no, read this part."

Then, you swing the chicken around your head.

Since we only had one shochet (kosher slaughterer) around, we had to stand in line.

And now the shochet efficiently dispatches the chicken to chicken heaven.

As part of the process of kosher slaughter, the blood is allowed to spill on the dirt, and we sprinkle some dirt over the blood, reciting a blessing.

The chickens are then donated to the poor. Or their carcasses are purchased back, the money donated to the poor, and the chickens fried up to make some midnight schnitzel.

Kapparot is the sort of thing that's easily misunderstood. There have been frequent objections to it within Judaism because it resembled the practices of Pagan neighbors. Also, there have been objections that it might be interpreted as an actual sacrifice. Private sacrifices were forbidden after the construction of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple.) Since the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash a couple of mellinea ago, Jews have not been able to conduct actual sacrifices, but have continued praying for the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash, to allow us to return to the practice. Meanwhile, many Jews have substituted swinging an equivelant amount of money over the heat while reciting the blessings, then donating that money to the poor. Being more blood-and-guts, I prefer the real Kapparot.

Of course, in Jerusalem, you can see people doing Kapparot on the side of the street. Back in California, in today's day and age, the main concern is from the department of health or from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,) so it has to be done quietly. Also, who knows where to buy a live chicken nowadays anyway?

For these reasons, it's usually organized quietly, and all the Jews come out of the woodwork.

Rabbi Friedman from Santa Cruz, with whom I used to spend Shabbat when I was unemployed and living in Pebble Beach with my grandmother.

Cylus and Seneera, immigrants from the original Jewish Community of India, and more recently of Walnut Creek until they moved away a few years ago.

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