A MELBOURNE pilot took to the skies with three chickens on Sunday to carry out a pre-Yom Kippur ritual that was otherwise off-limits for the city’s locked-down Jews.
Kapparot, practiced by some Orthodox Jews, involves swinging a live chicken over one’s head three times and reciting a prayer to transfer sins to the bird. The chicken is then slaughtered and donated to the poor.
This year, with large gatherings off-limits because of the coronavirus pandemic, those who practice the ritual have struggled with how to carry it out.
A Brooklyn organisation is offering to deliver chickens to people’s homes. In Israel, where the government has imposed stringent rules meant to reduce sky-high COVID-19 infections, kapparot is among the permitted reasons for travel.
In Melbourne, the entire city is locked down. So an enterprising philanthropist with access to an airplane decided to conduct a symbolic version above the heads of all of Melbourne’s Jews, by flying with chickens in circles over the city.
The hour-long, low-altitude flight circled over suburbs with large Jewish populations including Caulfield and St Kilda.
The plane carried three chickens, two male and one female. It is traditional for men to swing male chickens and women to swing hens.
“I don’t think anyone here thinks they could be yoitze [having fulfilled one’s ritual obligation] with the fowl flyover,” a Melbourne resident wrote.
“But it was definitely a nice start to the day.”