Each year, in the days leading up to the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, many Hasidic community members gather to engage in a highly controversial practice known as the kaporos ritual. This ceremony, which is believed to offer atonement for sins, involves reciting a prayer while swinging a live chicken over one’s head three times and then giving it to a butcher to be brutally killed. The belief is that in doing this, the person’s sins are transferred to the chicken and then gotten rid of by killing the animal.

According to the organization Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, around 50,000 baby chickens are slaughtered annually during this tradition in New York City alone. Outraged by what some see as a disturbingly inhumane ritual, a growing number of animal rights activists have started to protest the event each year. As the ritual took place last week, vigils and rallies condemning the unnecessary slaughter of chickens sprung up around NYC. Some believe that allowing the slaughter to occur in the streets of NYC is in violation of Public Health Codes. Numerous activists gathered to at least help educate participants about how to properly handle a chicken to avoid undue suffering and helped to feed and hydrate chickens stacked in cages, to which the Gothamist reports some participants were very receptive.


Unfortunately, the resistance movement against kaporos has not yet succeeded in ending the practice. But, there’s the heartening fact that many animal sanctuaries are doing everything in their power to rescue as many chickens as possible from this dark fate. One such animal-saving organization is Penelope’s Place, a sanctuary that takes in chickens who escape or are otherwise spared from being slaughtered during the yearly festival in New York City.

This amazing organization was founded in 2014 after Vanessa and Steve Dawson rescued a chicken named Penelope from kaporos. Soon after, Penelope starred in an award-winning documentary called “Penelope: A Rescue Story,” and she became the face of the movement to end this brutal tradition.

When Penelope sadly passed away in 2017 due to an untreatable respiratory illness, Vanessa and Steven decided to open a sanctuary for in-need animals, thus dedicating their lives to giving rescued chickens and other creatures a loving home where they will never again suffer or be treated like inanimate objects.

Now, thanks to the selfless good Samaritans at this sanctuary, a lucky few chickens are getting a happy ending rather than being subjected to a violent death during the kaporos ritual. Just look at how happy this chicken is rolling around in the dirt at the sanctuary! 

Then, there’s this adorable video of a rescued chicken named Rosebud cuddling with one of the volunteers at Penelope’s Place. How cute is that?!


As you can see, chickens are intelligent, loving creatures who most definitely do not deserve to be killed en masse. If you’d like to support the kind people at Penelope’s Place in their mission to save as many chickens as possible from kaporos and change the way the world views these beautiful animals, please consider making a donation to their organization.

Together, we can stand up for animal rights and help spread the word that chickens should be our friends, not unnecessary victims!


All Image Source: Penelope’s Place The Sanctuary/Facebook