An archaic religious ritual known as Kaporos takes place yearly throughout the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, an area with a large Orthodox Jewish population. The ritual involves the propitiatory sacrifice of fully conscious animals, and is predicated on the logically untenable and morally reprehensible notion that one's own sins and transgressions can be magically transferred onto an otherwise innocent chicken, who must then be slaughtered. The percentage of Jews who engage in this practice is, thankfully, quite small, and many Jewish organizations condemn it stridently, as they should.

The following are photographs from a Kaporos ritual that took place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on the evening of Monday, September 21st, 2015.

Dozens of large plastic crates, each containing several live chickens, are stacked on the street in front of the make-shift abattoir.

Dozens of large plastic crates, each containing several live chickens, are stacked on the street in front of the make-shift abattoir.

One of the hundreds of victims of the Kaporos ritual in Crown Heights.

One of the hundreds of victims of the Kaporos ritual in Crown Heights.

The participants pay for a ticket and exchange it for a live chicken, who is pulled from one of the crates.

The participants pay for a ticket and exchange it for a live chicken, who is pulled from one of the crates.

The participants pin the chickens' wings behind their backs and hold them above their heads, making sure to wave them in a circle three times before reciting a prayer. This exercise is the point of the ritual and is believed to magically transfer the sins of the practitioners onto the chickens. We don't need to emphasize what a ridiculous and reprehensible notion that is.


The participants pin the chickens' wings behind their backs and hold them above their heads, making sure to wave them in a circle three times before reciting a prayer. This exercise is the point of the ritual and is believed to magically transfer the sins of the practitioners onto the chickens. We don't need to emphasize what a ridiculous and reprehensible notion that is.

Once the brief ceremony of expiation is complete, the participants deliver the live chicken to the rabbi, who utters some words in Hebrew before the killing begins.

Once the brief ceremony of expiation is complete, the participants deliver the live chicken to the rabbi, who utters some words in Hebrew before the killing begins.

The moment of slaughter.

The moment of slaughter.

Another chicken dies under the rabbi's knife. The hand in the foreground belongs to one of the many participants who made numerous, aggressive attempts to thwart my efforts to document this barbaric cruelty.

Another chicken dies under the rabbi's knife. The hand in the foreground belongs to one of the many participants who made numerous, aggressive attempts to thwart my efforts to document this barbaric cruelty.

Blood is drained from the neck of the victim. The throat-slitting and draining take place in full view of other chickens.

Blood is drained from the neck of the victim. The throat-slitting and draining take place in full view of other chickens.

The rabbi watches as blood drains from the neck of his victim.

The rabbi watches as blood drains from the neck of his victim.

The rabbis take shifts at the killing station. This rabbi seems to prefer holding chickens with the heads oriented toward him, rather than away from him, when he slits their throats.

The rabbis take shifts at the killing station. This rabbi seems to prefer holding chickens with the heads oriented toward him, rather than away from him, when he slits their throats.

This photo represents one of the many attempts that the practitioners made to obstruct my view of the proceedings and prevent me from documenting the slaughter. The chicken in the foreground was repeatedly thrust in front of my camera by a belligerent woman who had as little consideration for the life of the animal in her hands as she did for my First Amendment rights. 

This photo represents one of the many attempts that the practitioners made to obstruct my view of the proceedings and prevent me from documenting the slaughter. The chicken in the foreground was repeatedly thrust in front of my camera by a belligerent woman who had as little consideration for the life of the animal in her hands as she did for my First Amendment rights. 

Once their throats are slit, the chickens are stuffed headlong into the "kill cones" in order to drain more of their blood. The chickens were often still conscious at this stage and many struggled (some successfully) to escape from the cones.

Once their throats are slit, the chickens are stuffed headlong into the "kill cones" in order to drain more of their blood. The chickens were often still conscious at this stage and many struggled (some successfully) to escape from the cones.

A boy struggles to subdue a chicken who (though gravely injured) managed to escape from her kill cone.

A boy struggles to subdue a chicken who (though gravely injured) managed to escape from her kill cone.

A young boy handles two dead chickens with his bare hands.

A young boy handles two dead chickens with his bare hands.

The blood of an untold number of chickens on the floor near the rabbi's feet.

The blood of an untold number of chickens on the floor near the rabbi's feet.

The faces of many of those handling the chickens become splattered with blood.

The faces of many of those handling the chickens become splattered with blood.

After being slaughtered and drained, the bodies of the victims are thrown onto a pile of crates, the beginning of the disassembly line.

After being slaughtered and drained, the bodies of the victims are thrown onto a pile of crates, the beginning of the disassembly line.

A man working the disassembly line grabs a chicken and begins the dismemberment process.

A man working the disassembly line grabs a chicken and begins the dismemberment process.

The first stage of disassembly of the victims is having their feet, wings, and heads cut off with an industrial saw

The first stage of disassembly of the victims is having their feet, wings, and heads cut off with an industrial saw

Just some of the hundreds of discarded limbs

Just some of the hundreds of discarded limbs

Body parts thrown away, like so much refuse.

Body parts thrown away, like so much refuse.

This boy takes a chicken from the kill cone and places her body on the disassembly line.

This boy takes a chicken from the kill cone and places her body on the disassembly line.

Carcasses pile up on the disassembly line.

Carcasses pile up on the disassembly line.

Throughout my time at the ritual, I was constantly harassed, accosted, and berated by participants who sometimes surrounded me and shoved cameras in my face. Many others insisted that as long as ISIS was killing people, I was wasting my time doing anything for animals.

Throughout my time at the ritual, I was constantly harassed, accosted, and berated by participants who sometimes surrounded me and shoved cameras in my face. Many others insisted that as long as ISIS was killing people, I was wasting my time doing anything for animals.

This woman shone the light of her cellphone in my face for some reason that wasn't entirely clear to me. I return the favor by shining an even brighter light on the savagery and cruelty of Kaporos. Until all animals are free from harm at human hands, we will be there to shine a light in the darkness.

This woman shone the light of her cellphone in my face for some reason that wasn't entirely clear to me. I return the favor by shining an even brighter light on the savagery and cruelty of Kaporos. Until all animals are free from harm at human hands, we will be there to shine a light in the darkness.

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