Synagogue in 11th-hour appeal to hold chicken-killing ritual

Lawyers for an Orange County synagogue have filed an 11th-hour motion asking a judge to dissolve a temporary restraining order preventing worshippers from carrying out a religious ceremony that involves killing chickens.

U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr. issued the order last week after Virginia-based Universal Poultry Concerns sued to stop Chabad Irvine of Orange County from carrying out Kaparos with a live chicken. The ritual involves whirling a chicken above one's head while reciting a prayer. Practitioners believe the person's sins will be transferred to the chicken.

Some Jews who practice the folk ritual use money wrapped in white cloth as a substitute for the chicken.

Birotte originally scheduled a hearing on the matter for Thursday.

He moved it up to Tuesday afternoon after lawyers for Chabad Irvine said that was too late. They noted this year's ceremony must take place by Tuesday evening, before Yom Kippur ends.

Universal Poultry Concerns argues state law prohibits malicious killing of animals.

The synagogue says chickens are slaughtered humanely and the meat donated to charity.