Kaparos at the Scranton Hebrew Day School
The minhag of kaparos before Yom Kippur dates back over 1,000 years to the times of the Geonim. Back then people often raised chickens in their own backyard and would hire a shochet to shecht them. That made it very convenient for Jews to fulfil this minhag Yisroel with roosters and hens for the men and women, respectively. Now with commercial shechita designed to feed an ever-growing Jewish population, it has become less convenient to do kaparos with chickens.
That did not stop the boys and girls of the Scranton Hebrew Day School from learning about and experiencing kaparos right in their own backyard – the school yard, that is. Kindergarten Morahs Fraidel Cukier (wife of long-time David Elliot Shochet Rabbi Hershel Cukier) and Gila Fink wanted to bring this minhag to life for their students. So, they recruited David Elliot Poultry Farm’s third generation, Natan and Yehudah (Gila’s husband) Fink, to present a kaparos demonstration for the younger grades, including three of Natan’s children.
The school’s principal, Rabbi Adler, explained to the children the minhag and its significance. Then the Fink brothers shlugged (waved) the rooster over the boys and the hen over the girls. Many of the students were even courageous enough to pet the chickens. The children really enjoyed the authentic kaparos experience and can’t wait to do it again next year.