Rucheli's Writings

Readings, Ramblings, and Religious Rantings

The Chicken Dance September 16, 2010

Filed under: My Blog — rucheli @ 12:50 am
Tags: , ,

Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day. After being in Israel for a few short weeks, I’ m throwing myself literally head-first into traditions that date back thousands of years. Tomorrow’s experience of the day? Doing the original chicken dance.

It has long been a custom in Jewish cultures across time and space to participate in a ceremony called Kaparot (or Kapores if you have an Ashkenaz accent) in the days preceding Yom Kippur. This ceremony involves taking a live chicken [rooster for a man, hen for a woman] and moving it in circles around your head while reciting the following verses:

“This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my expiation. This chicken shall go to death and I shall proceed to a good, long life and peace.”

We then send the chicken, a symbol for our sins, to the most Kosher and pain-free death physically possible and it’s then donated to the hungry and poor for their next dinner. This is all done in hopes that if G-d was to decree death to us on Yom Kippur as punishment for our sins, that in the merit of this charitable act, that He will change His decree.

Notice that I said “moved” and not “swung”… We are as humane as possible, the purpose is not to traumatize the poor animal. (Good thing PETA isn’t established in Israel.) But in the case that I completely chicken out (sorry for the pun, I had to), there is an option of doing Kaparos with money. And we actually found out today that the gematria (numerical value) of the letters kaf-samech-fay (kesef, or money in Hebrew) is the same as the value of the word kapareh (atonement) so that will work too. But that’s only a last-resort alternative. We’ll see what happens… Pictures will NOT be coming later for this one, sorry folks!

For more info, below is an excerpt from on kaparot:

The custom of kaparot is an ancient one , and was established as a reminder of the goat that the High Priest recited confession over on behalf of the Jewish People. That goat was sent to Azazel. However, in order to ensure that the practice does not resemble a sacrifice in any way (since sacrifices are forbidden outside of the Holy Temple), a chicken is used — since chickens were not offered on the altar.

The rite consists of taking a chicken — a male takes a rooster and a female takes a hen — and waving it over one’s head three times while the appropriate text (found in the Siddur or Machzor) is recited. The fowl is then slaughtered in accordance with Halachic procedure. The monetary worth of the kaparot is given to the poor, or as is more popular today, the chicken itself is donated to a charitable cause.

We ask G-d that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year, may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this charity

If a chicken is unavailable, one may substitute other fowl or animals; many people use a Kosher live fish. Some give the actual fowl to the poor. Others perform the entire rite with money, reciting the prescribed verses and giving the money to charity. There is no prescribed dollar amount;ย the donation should be according to one’s financial abilities.Though the word kaparot means “atonement,” one should not think that kaparot itself serves as a source of atonement. Rather, we ask G-d that if we were destined to be the recipients of harsh decrees in the new year, may they be transferred to this chicken in the merit of this charity.ย Furthermore, (many find the rite of kaparot very disturbing, and that is exactly the point), the mortality of the chicken should remind us of our own mortality and inspire us to correct our past and value our future.

[Even children, who are devoid of sin, do kaparot, since they, too, are sometimes the recipients of harsh heavenly decrees.]


Good morning, Brooklyn! September 1, 2010

Filed under: My Blog — rucheli @ 9:47 am
Tags: , , , ,

Just a quick update before I head out for day 2 in New York City ๐Ÿ™‚

Yesterday was an incredibly long day. Not sleeping at all on Monday night didn’t help, I’m sure. I had to be at the airport at 4:30am Tuesday for my 6am flight… or so I thought. Of course I got there and my flight was delayed 3.5 hours, so Dad and I just hung out for a little while and then through security and off I went.

I got into New York around noon. Of course by the time I got my luggage and took a taxi into Crown Heights (Brooklyn) it was 1:30 or so. I found my way to RL’s house, but she wasn’t there so her sister CB let me in. After getting settled in, I went to go see Estee for the first time since she got married… she’s so happy ๐Ÿ™‚ I hung out at her work (Bais Chana) for a while before stopping by Empire Kosher for some sushi that I’ve been craving for several months. Then some shopping on Kingston Ave., a mint chocolate milkshake to hold me over until dinner (yummm) and some relaxing in the least-relaxing city in the world ๐Ÿ˜‰ Dinner was with the Dubovs, and the conversation and good company lasted until about midnight before I found my way home and PASSED OUT.

It was a great first day away from home, and being in Crown Heights is always a vacation for my soul… Everything is so much easier here. All the restaurants are kosher, there’s a shul on every corner, the stores only sell clothes that are tznius (modest), and every person you meet on the street is Jewish… and observant also. You know everyone with no more than 2 degrees of separation, and whether you know them or not, 99% of them are willing to be your friend if you need a helping hand. I don’t know if I could live here forever, but I’d definitely like to give a year or two a shot! Maybe once I find a husband to live here with ๐Ÿ˜‰


Spoiled in SoFla August 15, 2010

Filed under: My Blog — rucheli @ 4:45 pm

I grew up in South Florida, in the middle of an enormous Jewish community. I went to a high school that was half Jewish, literally. There were synagogues every mile or two and a kosher grocery market in every community. And I couldn’t have cared less.

Then I moved to Orlando for college. Central Florida has a decent Jewish population, but no one really cares so much. There’s one kosher restaurant down past Disney and another one way out in Daytona. And that’s it. Of all places, Orlando is where I became more observant… All of the sudden I thought back to where I grew up and realized the luxury that I hadn’t even noticed while I was there. In Orlando, everything is a treasure hunt… kosher meat, kosher wine, kosher dairy… it’s all hard to come by and when you do find it (or demand it from a local grocery store), it’s super expensive.

Every once in a while, like this weekend, I’ll go back down to South Florida to visit my parents… and boy do I spoil myself! ๐Ÿ™‚ I know where all of the best kosher spots in town are (Avigdor’s Mozart Cafe being a favorite) and no trip to South Florida is complete without a run to Aroma’s kosher market. I always go back to Orlando with a CAR FULL of kosher food. Not really exaggerating either!

What I once didn’t even notice is now a complete luxury and when I’m here, I take full advantage of all of the Jewish resources. So if you’re in an area where Jewish-ness is abound, don’t ever take it for granted! There are those of us out there that are “starving children in Orlando” that would love that kosher food ๐Ÿ˜‰