California

Judge rules against group that sued Irvine synagogue over ritual chicken slaughter

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Chickens that were to be used in a Jewish ritual are seen in Los Angeles in 2013.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against an Irvine synagogue by a group seeking to protect poultry.

The suit alleged that accepting donations to slaughter chickens as part of the ancient Yom Kippur atonement rite known as Kaparot constitutes an unfair business practice.

United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit dedicated to the respectful treatment of domestic fowl, argued that Chabad of Irvine charges “a fee of $27 to kill and dispose of each chicken.”

The cost of each chicken is $2, it said, thus providing the synagogue with a $25 profit.

But Judge Andre Birotte Jr. wrote in his decision Friday that “Chabad of Irvine does not participate nor compete as a business in the commercial market by performing a religious atonement ritual that involves donations.”

“We hope this victory will encourage everyone to live in peace and tolerance of everyone’s religious beliefs,” Rabbi Alter Tenenbaum of Chabad of Irvine said in a statement.

“We’re appealing Judge Birotte’s ruling,” Bryan Pease, an attorney representing United Poultry Concerns, said Tuesday.

Pease also is representing a nonprofit called Animal Protection and Rescue League in a lawsuit filed against Chabad of Irvine in Orange County Superior Court.

That case, which is set to go to trial June 19, alleges violations of state animal cruelty, environmental and sanitation laws.

To read the article in Spanish, click here

Louis.Sahagun@latimes.com

@LouisSahagun