In suburban Detroit, Congregation Bais Chabad of Farmington Hills — which said its kapparot ritual is its best-attended and “financially, the single most important” event – filed a suit against Tom Vilsack, secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, The Detroit News reported Monday.
Because the slaughterhouse normally used was unavailable, and because there are no kosher slaughter facilities in Michigan, the congregation arranged for a halal butcher to slaughter the fowl used in the ritual. (The chickens are supposed to be ritually slaughtered and then donated to the poor.) But according to the complaint, the USDA objected to the arrangement “on the basis of USDA requirements that any kosher slaughter facility be certified and inspected,” a process that would take months.
Claiming the USDA’s actions represent “unconstitutional interference with religious practice,” the congregation went to court Monday seeking an emergency motion for injunctive relief.
On Monday evening, the USDA announced that it will allow the ritual to go on as planned.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith presided over the case in which the USDA said it would grant a one-time exemption for the slaughter of 800 to 1,000 chickens. The issue came to a head Friday when the butcher normally used by Rabbi Chaim Moshe Bergstein was unavailable and Amanah Poultry and Grocery in Hamtramck, a halal butcher, was chosen instead.
When Ahmed Hassan spoke to the USDA about handling the Kaporos birds, the USDA ““objected on the basis of USDA requirements that any kosher slaughter facility be certified and inspected.” The process would take longer than the window needed for Kaporos.