The Kapparot Ritual





News Room, 24 September 2012

Television transcript, translated from Hebrew


Sharon Kent: As we have seen, in certain places it is still customary to hold the kapparot atonement ceremony in its traditional form. Needless to say, this provokes controversy, not only between religious and secular people but also among the religious public. Ira Immerglick has looked for and found other ways to carry out soul-searching on the Day of Atonement.


Ira Immerglick: It is substitution, it is compensatory, it is expiatory. Did the ancient custom of atonement that will deliver you to a good life take place this morning in Tel Aviv?



Hatikva Market, Tel Aviv


D.: Kapparot, it says in the holy books that if on New Year, heaven forbid, someone is decreed a bad fate, all the troubles decreed for this person pass to the chicken, and the person will have a good and happy life.


Ira Immerglick: For NIS 50 you can be cleansed of all your sins. And the chicken will go to its death, if you believe that this custom has any place in the world of today.



Michal Volansky, Professional Manager, Hakol Chai


Michal Volansky: It contradicts the essence of how it is done. We want to ask forgiveness and we harm another living creature, and in fact we transgress against another prohibition, against cruelty to animals.


MK Haim Amsalem: Over the years, a lot of people have spoken out against the custom of kapparot, and the author of the Shulchan Aruch Code of Jewish Law himself did not like it because it is an Amorite custom. Many people see it as not an easy ceremony, perhaps sometimes even cruel.


Ira Immerglick: In recent years it has become customary to carry out the ceremony with money given to charity. But there are also alternatives to all the traditional rituals.


(Location: Bina Center, Tel Aviv, today)


Lior Tal: The custom of all this nonsense of kapparot with chickens and all that, this should mark something after a significant process that the person has carried out. What we are trying to do here at this secular yeshiva is to give the Day of Atonement back a deep significance for the secular and the traditional public in Israel, and it has a significance that goes beyond the religious ritual.


Ira Immerglick: At the adult learning center at Bina, which offers an education in Jewish and Israeli identity, secular youth are given the opportunity of experiencing the Day of Atonement in a slightly different way.


Shai Padolar: Here at the mechina, the lessons they have taught us have made me understand the meaning of the Day of Atonement in a deeper way, and adopt it in a way that suits me.


Toby Segal: For me, it is important to take the Day of Atonement as a day to think about the things that I haven't done right and that I could have done better. And I try to apply it in the future.


Ira Immerglick: Although the Day of Atonement is the Day of Judgment, each one of us gives it our own significance.


MK Haim Amsalem: It's a kind of paradox that on the eve of the Day of Atonement there is an atmosphere of joy, we eat, and we eat special dishes. On the Day of Atonement we fast throughout the day, and at the end of the day we emerge with a sense of spiritual uplift, of happiness.


Ira Immerglick: The argument over the custom did not start now and will not end at the end of the fast. Perhaps each of us should find other, more practical, ways of atoning for our sins.