Chicken swinging is way better than confessional / by Susie Lubell


It was Yom Kipur, the Day of Atonement, on Saturday and I repented. Not really. I fasted and that sucked. And I wished I'd had some time while I was fasting to examine my life and talk to God. Or at least take a nap. But parenting duties continue on Yom Kipur so my guess is the next 8-10 Yom Kipurs are going to suck the big winkie. 

Leading up to Yom Kipur I tried to read a few stories and get the kids to understand this whole idea about repentance and forgiveness which I boiled down to feel bad and say sorry.  A little of that might have sunk in. Or not. My daughter was unusually bristly it turns out. She told each member of her family that she didn't like us and that she wasn't our friend anymore. But since she couldn't say Yom Kipur and instead called it Yom Kipod which means Porcupine Day it seemed to make perfect sense.

We did start a new family tradition this year to try and give the kids something to remember for next year. There's custom called Kapparot which literally means atonements. And traditionally you swing a live chicken over your head three times (I'm not making this up), recite a blessing to transfer your transgressions to the dizzy chicken and then you kill the chicken thereby eliminating your sins. You can read all about it here. Apparently only ultra religious communities still do this and under strong opposition by animal rights groups.

We didn't slaughter a live chicken for the obvious reasons. We did take stuffed animal chickens, whispered our sins and secrets to them, tied a shoelace around one wing and flung them around for a while. And then I took my daughter, dressed her up like a chicken, told her I was sorry for all of the yelling and mean things I've said and swung her around too! Meanwhile my husband was making a delicious lentil salad, chocolate banana bread and fresh lemonade to bring to my brother's house where we broke our fast in the most gluttonous way possible. We can atone for that next year.


Swinging live chicken