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 done much farther away from newspaper photographers than seems to be the current practice. But, I must admit to loving chickens. It’s hard to give up an opportunity to incorporate a chicken that is neither roasted nor boiled into my Jewish practice, even a bird that will shortly meet its maker (and would that be the chicken….or the egg…?) and a bad case of vertigo.

I was inspired by my interview with Rabbi Susan Schnur to consider another fowl-centric method of acknowledging and leaving behind our misdeeds from the past year. Today, my entire kindergarten class visited the chicken coop of one member of the class. We met the three beautiful birds, and had a chance to whisper our “sorries” in a hen’s ear. At least I think it was the ear.
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_4470.JPG
IMG_4472.JPG
IMG_4478 chanina whispers.JPG
IMG_4490.JPG
Gmar Chatimah Tovah from my homeshul to yours.
And tell me you’ve read the chicken book, right?
More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

As a public school child in the 70’s, my Valentine’s Day often ended in tears. I remember digging into my optimistically large brown paper bag in first grade to find only three envelopes, even though my mother had insisted I fill out mass-produced cards for every child in my class. “No one likes me!” I […]

One of the greatest privileges of being a kindergarten teacher in a Jewish day school is having the opportunity to teach children to recite the four questions. Unlike almost anything else I teach them about Jewish ritual, this is “real work.” The candles will get blessed, kiddush will be recited, and birkat hamazon chanted with […]

I’m not exaggerating. The bane of my Passover existence has been pareve baking. I cook a lot more meat during the holiday than I do the rest of the year, which means a lot more pareve desserts. Which has, up until now, usually meant margarine made from disgusting ingredients such as cottonseed oil. Last year, […]

I’m not a haggadah junkie. I know many Jews whose shelves are overflowing with numerous versions of the Haggadah – from the traditional Maxwell House to the not-so-traditional Santa Cruz – and whose seders are an amalgam of commentaries, poems, and (alas) responsive readings, from these dog-eared, post- it covered books. Maybe it’s because my […]