Religious holidays are a time for family gatherings and sacred introspection. For those who practice Judaism the most holy of holidays is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is celebrated in either September or October based on how the year in the standardized Gregorian calendar system corresponds to Tishri, the new year in the Jewish calendar.
This holy event is set aside to allow people to make amends for all of their transgressions over the course of the past year and engage in meaningful repentance. A common sight amongst Jewish practitioners is the wearing of white, which symbolizes the cleansing of religious wrongdoings.
For the Orthodox Jewish sect there is another requirement for the cleansing of worshipers in the form of a sacrifice. In “modern times,” this translates into the sacrificial slaughtering of chickens. There is a lot of media misdirection on the relevance of this practice. Orthodox Jews have stated to the media that this is a necessary sacrifice as an offering to those less fortunate than themselves. This media blitz was done in an attempt to make what they are doing appear more meaningful. However, with the lack of follow-through on actually donating the sacrificed chickens to community service kitchens it has cast a negative shadow over the practice.
The chickens are typically caged and deprived of food and water prior to their demise. When the sacrifice has concluded the chickens are tossed into alleyways or dumpsters. In 2005, witnesses to these inhumane offenses grew tired with the sect’s behavior and started protesting. By 2010, Orthodox practitioners grew unhappy with the negative media attention toward the sacrificial practice. Followers of the faith took matters into their own hands and started to harass protesters for vocalizing their objections by splattering red paint on protest signs and entryways of homes. Six years later, in 2011, concerned citizens have yet to see any increase in the sacrificed chickens getting donated to community service kitchens and remain dumbfounded by the religion's wasteful actions.
Protestors have taken issue with the religious sect for failing to acknowledge the worth of the chickens slaughtered, evidenced by the animals’ inhumane treatment before and after the religious service, constituting a cruel act. It has been suggested that if these chickens were meant to aid the less fortunate that monetary donations to charities would achieve the same goal without necessitating the taking of lives. The Orthodox sect did not factor in the consequences of the media misdirection backfiring.
The actual religious philosophy behind the sacrifice has nothing to do with those less fortunate. The primary function of this action is the necessity to spill innocent blood to wash way the sins of the worshipers so that they may continue to live and thrive, as mandated in the Tanakh (acronym for the combined Jewish holy works). The hands of the worshipers are placed upon the heads of those chickens to be sacrificed and their sins confessed prior to killing. The viewpoint is that once the innocent animals have been slain their spirits are “sent out” to God as scapegoats for their transgressions, as is stated in Leviticus.
The Orthodox sect’s standing argument to validate their dogmatic perspective is that this practice is no crueler than slaughtering animals for human consumption. However, there are in fact distinct differences. Animals slaughtered for Yom Kippur ritual are penned, starved, and killed without being paid tribute for their sacrifice before they are tossed into the garbage like a waste byproduct. People who consume meat will typically give thanks. The meat is consumed for sustenance and what is not eaten is saved to provide further nutrition during another meal. The significant differences between the two modes of thought are the intrinsic value placed on the life of the animal and giving purpose to those sacrificed.
Religious animal sacrifice was practiced to replace that of offering up an innocent human. If the animal is to act as a surrogate human, why is it not given the same weight as one? It is unfathomable to consider a chaste person being sacrificed without tribute and then being tossed into a dumpster without further consideration, which makes the act of treating the animal as an equal surrogate replacement a disingenuous sentiment.
Let the Orthodox Jewish practitioners hear the voices of civility and reason to productive alternatives for positive change to tradition. For those interested in expressing their concern sign the Stop Animal Sacrifices at Yom Kippur initiative.