Rabbi killing a chicken?
June 20, 2006 8:56 AM   Subscribe

What Jewish tradition involves a rabbi killing a chicken?

I'm transcribing a conversation with my grandmother that I taped about 15 years ago, and I plan on using our conversation as the basis for a more fleshed-out piece of writing/comics.

But since I was 13 at the time of the interview, I made for a pretty lousy journalist -- she spoke of many things, often glazing over details, and being a dumb kid, I never asked for clarification or elaboaration on anything she said.

The conversation is about her life growing up in the 20s and 30s during the Depression, and she tells a story about how her neighbours were a Jewish family, and that since her back yard was higher than theirs, when all the neighbourhood kids saw the rabbi coming down the street, they'd all rush to her yard where they could stand on the bank overlooking the Jewish family's yard so they could "watch the rabbi kill the chicken".

What was/is this tradition? Any and all details would help!

(FWIW, she grew up in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada which until WWI was named Berlin, and was populated primarily by German immigrants)
posted by Robot Johnny to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'd guess that it's just with the rabbi watching, the family could be sure that the chicken was kosher and they could eat it. Some of the kosher rules have to do with how the animal is killed. But that's just a guess....
posted by inigo2 at 8:58 AM on June 20, 2006

This could also have to do with the High Holidays--in some religious communities, chickens are killed to represent someone's sins.
A little bit of info can be found here.
posted by leesh at 9:09 AM on June 20, 2006

leesh beat me to it! Here's another link which describes how this custom seems to raise the ire of, well, everybody. So now Jews waive a handkerchief filled with money around (and then donate that to charity, instead of the chicken). Won't that please everyone!!?
posted by zpousman at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2006

BEGIN fiddlerontheroof{
As the good book says....when a man kills a chicken, one of them is sick.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2006

Thanks, everyone. It certainly sounds like it could either be Kaparot or just Kosher slaughtering... the way it fits in her story, it sounds like a more regular occurance than a yearly Yom Kippur tradition, so I'm leaning towards the Kosher thing.
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:26 AM on June 20, 2006

about the shchita process

Sounds like a regular shchita to me, not "Kaparra Shluggin".
posted by Izzmeister at 9:30 AM on June 20, 2006

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