As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I urge Jews who take part in the kapparot ceremony before Yom Kippur to do so with the approved method of using and donating money rather than chickens who are later slaughtered and then donated to the poor. This would show that we are acting consistently with our mission to be “rachmanim b’nei rachmanim” (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors) and to the Torah mitzvah of “tsa’ar ba’alei chaim” (the prohibition against causing unnecessary harm to animals). It would also be consistent with the Jewish teachings that “God’s mercies are over all of His creatures” (Psalms 145:9) and “the righteous person considers the life of his or her animals” (Proverbs 12:10).

In addition, substituting money for chickens would be consistent with the urgent need to make dietary changes at a time when the production and consumption of meat and other animal products:

• violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace.

• contribute significantly to global warming, rapid species extinction, soil erosion and depletion, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many more environmental problems that are moving the world toward an unprecedented catastrophe.