SANTA ANA – A Superior Court judge has rejected a lawsuit aimed at halting the slaughter of chickens in Orange County during a Jewish holiday ritual, marking the second time in recent months that the Chabad of Irvine has headed off legal challenges to its annual Kapparot ceremony.
The lawsuit, filed by the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League, accuse Chabad of Irvine’s Kapparot ceremonies of violating state and local laws against animal cruelty, specifically claiming that the synagogue’s killing of chickens breaks California’s unfair competition law.
For the case to proceed to trial, Orange County Superior Court Judge Martha K. Gooding would have had to determine that members of the synagogue paying Chabad of Irvine for the chickens, their slaughter and disposal constitutes a “business act.”
Instead, in a written ruling released Friday, Gooding determined that the synagogue took part in a religious, not a business, practice.
“Targeted attacks on a religious sect should be rejected by every American,” said Stephanie Taub, an attorney with the First Liberty Institute, in a statement released Monday. The group’s attorneys represented the Chabad of Irvine. “Protecting a millennia-old religious tradition is a victory, not just for the Chabad of Irvine, but for all Californians.”
Attorney Bryan Pease, who represented the Animal Protection and Rescue League, indicated that he plans to appeal.
“It remains illegal to kill and discard animals for a religious ritual without using them for food, and we hope local authorities will enforce the law,” Pease said. “The question about whether charging a fee for this activity is a business practice only affects whether private parties can sue, but does not alter the illegality of the underlying practice.”
The Kapparot ceremony, which is practiced in some traditional Orthodox Jewish communities, includes a chicken swung over someone’s head to symbolize that person’s sins being…