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Millennia-Old Religious Practice of Kaporos Attacked

The religious rite of kaporos has been practiced by Orthodox Jews for thousands of years. Kaporos is a sacred religious ceremony performed by Orthodox Jewish believers, where the atonement of sins is contemplated through prayer and the kosher and humane killing of a chicken. The ceremony takes place in anticipation of Yom Kippur, or the “Day of Atonement,” the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

In 2017, animal activists filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming an alleged right and “desire to exercise their rights” pursuant to the California Penal Code to engage in a “private person arrest” of kaporos participants in Los Angeles and Irvine, California. The lawsuit indicated that the activists would take matters into their own hands if police forces did not act. 

First Liberty Legal Action

First Liberty Institute intervened on behalf of Orthodox Jewish communities in and throughout Los Angeles and Irvine. In September 2017, on the eve of the Jewish High Holy Days, First Liberty received assurances  from the activists’ attorneys that no Orthodox Jews practicing kaporos will be physically assaulted or placed under “private persons arrest.”

Yet, just a week later, a band of activists stormed onto the property of one First Liberty’s clients, trespassed, stole his chickens, and told him he would be placed under private persons arrest. Both the LAPD and Los Angeles Animal Services investigated the allegations of the activists against First Liberty’s client and found “no illegal activity” surrounding the religious ritual.

First Liberty Institute filed for an emergency protective order in APRL v. City of Los Angeles on behalf of Orthodox Jewish congregations and their members. The Court denied this protective order, and First Liberty continues to monitor the case.

“The First Amendment guarantees the right to practice one’s faith freely,” Stephanie Taub, First Liberty Counsel said. “No one should fear being placed under arrest—by police or fellow citizens—for peacefully exercising their religion. This kind of oppression by animal rights activists against the Orthodox Jewish community must stop.”

Previous Legal Attacks on Kaporos

This is not the first attempt by animal rights activists to prevent the Orthodox Jewish community from practicing their faith.

Last year, First Liberty Institute represented the Chabad of Irvine, California against two lawsuits brought by activists opposed to kaporos. Both cases remain pending on appeal. Learn more about these cases by visiting FirstLiberty.org/Chabad.

An earlier suit brought separately by the same attorneys against members of the Los Angeles orthodox community and their synagogues (United Poultry Concerns, Inc. v. Bait Aaron, Inc.), was dismissed outright on freedom of religion grounds thanks to the advocacy of to Aryeh Kaufman of the Law Office of Aryeh Kaufman and G. Scott Sobel of the Law Office of G. Scott Sobel.

“Americans may disagree with the religious beliefs of their neighbors, but should always respect the right to peacefully practice their faith,” said Taub. “You cannot threaten to arrest someone just because you disagree with their religious beliefs.”

Press Release
For Immediate Release: September 28, 2017
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Animal Rights Activists Continue Oppression of Los Angeles Orthodox
Jewish Community During the Jewish High Holy Days

First Liberty Institute files for an emergency protective order after activists renege on promise to refrain from harassing and threatening to arrest members of local synagogues.


LOS ANGELES, California—On early Thursday morning, First Liberty Institute attorneys filed for an emergency protective order in APRL v. City of Los Angeles on behalf of five Orthodox Jewish congregations and their members. The action comes two weeks after the filing of a lawsuit seeking to compel the cities of Los Angeles and Irvine to prevent Orthodox Jews from participating in a millennia-old religious ritual while claiming the right to place individual kaporos participants under “private persons arrest” if the police will not. Last week, activists promised that Orthodox Jews practicing kaporos would not be physically assaulted or threatened with arrest.

Yet, Wednesday evening, the activists stormed onto the property of one First Liberty’s clients, stole his chickens, and told him he would be placed under private persons arrest. Most of the activists fled the scene before the police arrived. Both the LAPD and Los Angeles Animal Services investigated the allegations of the activists and found First Liberty’s client to be in
compliance with the law.

“This kind of oppression by animal rights activists against the Orthodox Jewish community must stop,” said Stephanie Taub, counsel to First Liberty. “No one should fear being placed under arrest—by the police or fellow citizens—for peacefully exercising their religion.”

Kaporos is a historic religious rite that takes place between the Jewish Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, where the atonement of sins is contemplated through prayer and the kosher and humane killing of a chicken.

“For several years, the Orthodox Jewish community of Los Angeles and Irvine has been forced to respond to lawsuits, trespassers, vandals, thieves, and now the prospect of being placed under arrest—all during the holiest days of their religious calendar,” said Taub. “No one should be forced to answer lawsuits, fend off vandals and thieves, or be subject to arrest while peacefully practicing of their faith.”

Last year, First Liberty defended the Chabad of Irvine against two lawsuits brought by activists opposed to kaporos. Learn more about these cases at FirstLiberty.org/Chabad. An earlier suit brought separately by the same attorneys against specific members of the Los Angeles orthodox community and their synagogues (United Poultry Concerns, Inc. vs. Bait Aaron, Inc.), was dismissed outright, thanks to Aryeh Kaufman of the Law Office of Aryeh Kaufman, and G. Scott Sobel, of the Law Office of G. Scott Sobel, on freedom of religion grounds by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

First Liberty has moved to intervene on behalf of its clients for the sole purpose of obtaining a protective order to ensure the constitutional rights of their clients are fully protected. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Kaporos.

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About First Liberty Institute
First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans. To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.


Press Releases

First Liberty Press Release – 09/28/17

First Liberty Press Release – 9/20/17