Most sensible Jews (and all left-wing poultry) are opposed to kapparos, the High Holiday tradition of transferring one’s sins to a live chicken by twirling it over one’s head. I agree that it’s a practice that ought to be retired, or at the very least conducted far from news photographers. But, I must admit – I love chickens. So, it’s hard to give up an opportunity to incorporate a chicken that is neither roasted nor boiled into my Jewish practice.

I was inspired by my interview with Rabbi Susan Schnur to consider an alternative chicken-centric method of acknowledging and leaving behind our misdeeds from the past year. Today, my entire kindergarten class visited a student’s chicken coop. We held three beautiful birds, but instead of swinging them over our heads, we whispered our “sorries” in a hen’s ear. (At least I think it was the ear .) After the ritual, every child gave tzedakah.

I’m not sure that my students really understand much more about the tradition of kapparos, or even that much more about teshuvah. But they learned that chickens are gentle, and quite beautiful, and are somehow linked to the High Holidays – and not just for eating.


IMG_4478 chanina whispers.JPG

Gmar Chatimah Tovah from my homeshul to yours.

And tell me you’ve read the chicken book, right?

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