2017 Kaporos Investigation Trip

"There are many good photographs and photographers in the world, but the truly great photos and photographers are rare.  The photographs that Unparalleled Suffering Photography has taken of chickens suffering in the Kaporos rituals in New York City are unsurpassed in their evocation of the experience the birds are having as they suffer.  The images are sharp and vivid but what makes them inimitable is their expressiveness.  We have used many photos of Kaporos chickens over the past decade in our campaign to eliminate the ritual, but the Unparalleled Suffering Photography photos have an artistic poignancy that no other photographer has captured before so exquisitely.  For this reason, we now feature these photos almost exclusively in our campaign and we look forward to the privilege of having more of them to share with the public on behalf of the birds.  In Unparalleled Suffering, the artistry and the activism are perfectly matched."
-Karen Davis, president of United Poultry Concerns and Co-Founder of Alliance To End Chickens As Kaporos

Unparalleled Suffering Photography 2016 Kaporos Photographs
Unparalleled Suffering Photography Pictures Available For Kaporos Protest Posters

In 2015 I found out about the animal cruelty sacrifice ritual called Kaporos. Shortly afterwards, I traveled to Houston, Texas to document a private Kaporos ritual with a couple hundred people involved. I was told at the last minute before it started that I had to put my camera gear in my car )even though I had previously been given permission to document). All in all, I ended up leaving after watching some 75 or so chickens get murdered for such nonsense. However, I promised myself that I would make it out to New York the following year where Kaporos took place on the largest scale in the United States.
My New York trip ended up being very costly, but it was well worth it as I documented tirelessly and my work got shared widely and brought much needed attention to this archaic and barbaric ritual. My photographs from last year are now used for online and street outreach, protesting, and for battling Kaporos via the legal system. Last years photos were the main source of Kaporos documentation that got passed around by everyday people and activists and they were shared widely by the leading groups that are trying to do away with chickens being used for Kaporos instead of money - Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos and United Poultry Concerns. Demanding the end of Kaporos, or at least the use of chickens for the custom, is and will continue to be one of my main focuses.
The biggest disappointment last year was the lack of quality images I was able to shoot at nighttime with my camera (that I rented) and having to constantly switch lenses, therefore missing important shots. This year I’m going to be renting two cameras and multiple lenses that will ensure clean quality images, even at nighttime, and will allow me to shoot a high amount of images per second which is essential for shooting slaughter situations.
Below is a list of my expenses and then more details and a summary of what Kaporos is:
Flight - $378
Food - $200
Lyft/Uber/Public Transportation - $500
Sennheiser Action Mic  - $200 (for video recording)
GoPro Dual Battery Charger - $50
On Camera Light - $100
Camera Rental: $1480: 
Sony A9 Cameras 
Sony FE 24-70 F/2.8 GM Lens
Sony FE 70-200 F/2.8 GM OSS Lens
Sony FE 16-35 F/2.8 GM Lens
Sony 2X Teleconverter
Sony NP-FZ100 Batteries
Sony High Speed 128 GB cards - $1000
External Hard Drive - $200
Copyright Registration - $55
UV Lens Filters - 127

What Is Kaporos?
Kaporos means “atonements” and is a chicken swinging and killing ritual that dates all the way back to the Middle Ages and can be alternatively performed without live animals and with money instead that will go to charity. Hasidic practitioners, most notably in New York City and Jerusaelm, swing typically factory-farmed baby chickens in the air, usually suspended by their fragile wings, around the practitioners head all while chanting verses about transferring their sins and punishment symbolically to the chicken. This occurs during the days preceding Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and around 60,000 or more birds are killed in Brooklyn alone. Kaporos isn’t even required by Jewish law or required in the Torah or Talmud, it’s nothing more than a custom. The Jewish Day of Atonement is supposed to be about mercy, charity, and repentance so hurting animals is going to violate that spirit of atonement rather than express it. One chicken is tortured and killed for each human, including children and unborn babies. If a woman is due to have a baby girl then she is supposed to “sacrifice” a hen and if she is due to have a baby boy then she is supposed to “sacrifice” a rooster. If she is unsure of the sex of her forthcoming child then her or her husband will kill two chickens for that baby. The chant basically states, “this chicken is my atonement, my substitute. This chicken will die for my sins and I will go on to a happy and peaceful life.” The chickens are usually killed a number of minutes after the chant by having their throat slit and having their bodies thrown into a street cone to bleed out and die.

According to the practitioners, the chickens are happy to be used for this purpose, they are killed humanely, die instantly, and their flesh is then fed to the poor. As you probably already know, this is all far from the actual case. The chickens sit crammed in crates without food or water and exposed to the elements for days or even a week before Kaporos, often injured and covered in filth. Many chickens don’t make it past the crate and many become victims to having their feet ripped off when they do make it out. The chickens constantly cry for help except when they’re being held and play dead as an effort to be dropped and left alone, as if they were being held by a wolf. The chicken’s feet are there to support their weight, not their wings, yet people continue to hold chickens in the most painful way they possibly could. Not only is it against Jewish law to cause unnecessary suffering to animals, but it’s also against Jewish law for animals to witness the slaughter of other animals. However, this doesn’t stop people from slaughtering chickens while the other chickens are held up and forced to watch before it’s their turn. The chickens know what’s coming and completely freak out. None of them die instantly. Once they’re thrown into the cones the chickens struggle for their life and often fly out of the cone, only to then hit the hard ground and continue to struggle until they finally die. At the humongous Kaporos location I went to last year they’re all thrown into trash bags after they die, but many are thrown into the plastic trash bags while still alive (even if they haven’t been slaughtered). At this major Kaporos center and many others year after year people have witnessed dead chicken bags getting picked up by a trash or rendering company or finding the bags dumped on the side of a road somewhere.  In New York City alone, this ritual is breaking at least 15 different laws.

Thank you for reading.


Unparalleled Suffering
Casper, WY

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