Monsey, NY – The Jewish New Year has started, and Rockland health officials are planning to monitor religious ceremonies involving live chickens — including a new twist on the ancient rite by a man who wants to drive a truck filled with fowl to locations where people can pray, then take the livestock away.
Rockland Commissioner of Health Dr. Joan Facelle said that no one from the department has heard from a Monsey man who has held large kapparot ceremonies involving thousands of live chickens.
The man, Moshe Lefkowitz, has accumulated large fines and the drawn the ire of officials for violating sanitary code regulations while holding the ceremony at sites in the Monsey area in the past three years.
He was fined a total of $9,250 for leaving the sites strewn with blood, feces, feathers and other garbage that attracted flies and maggots and caused the potential for disease. He still owes $7,850, according to Department of Health records.
Health officials have met with Lefkowitz in previous years to explain what he has to do to comply with sanitary rules. But no meeting was held this year, Facelle said.
“Mr. Lefkowitz needs to pay his fines,” Facelle said.
No permit is needed, health officials said, but organizers have to obey regulations. Health officials will monitor the area to make sure that any ceremonies involving chickens meet sanitary regulations, Facelle said. County workers will also respond to complaints called in to the division of Environmental Health at 845-364-2608.
Even though local officials are not aware of any large-scale kapparot ceremonies, several people have contacted the Department of Health to say that they were going to host smaller ceremonies. They were given guidance on how to comply with sanitary regulations.
One person who contacted the department said that he wanted to drive a delivery truck full of chickens to various locations so people could perform the rite. The man said that he would then put the chickens back in the truck and go to a different location.