It is an ancient custom on Erev Yom Kippur (or the days in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur to perform Kaparot with a chicken, or alternatively with money. The value of the chicken or the money is given to Tzedaka.
How to participate:
To participate, please follow the instructions below.
Put the amount in an envelope and recite the following Prayer:
בְּנֵי אָדָם יֹשְׁבֵי חֹשֶׁךְ וְצַלְמָוֶת, אֲסִירֵי עֳנִי וּבַרְזֶל: יוֹצִיאֵם מֵחֹשֶׁךְ וְצַלְמָוֶת, וּמוֹסְרוֹתֵיהֶם יְנַתֵּק: אֱוִילִים מִדֶּרֶךְ פִּשְׁעָם, וּמֵעֲווֹנוֹתֵיהֶם יִתְעַנּוּ: כָּל אֹכֶל תְּתַעֵב נַפְשָׁם, וַיַּגִּיעוּ עַד שַׁעֲרֵי מָוֶת: וַיִּזְעֲקוּ אֶל אֲ־דֹנָי בַּצַּר לָהֶם, מִמְּצֻקוֹתֵיהֶם יוֹשִׁיעֵם: יִשְׁלַח דְּבָרוֹ וְיִרְפָּאֵם, וִימַלֵּט מִשְּׁחִיתוֹתָם: יוֹדוּ לַא־דֹנָי חַסְדּוֹ וְנִפְלְאוֹתָיו לִבְנֵי אָדָם: אִם יֵשׁ עָלָיו | מַלְאָךְ מֵלִיץ, אֶחָד מִנִּי אָלֶף, לְהַגִּיד לְאָדָם יָשְׁרוֹ: וַיְחֻנֶּנּוּ, וַיֹּאמֶר, פְּדָעֵהוּ מֵרֶדֶת שַׁחַת, מָצָאתִי כֹפֶר:
"Children of man who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, bound in misery and chains of iron—He will bring them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and will sunder their bonds. Foolish sinners, afflicted because of their sinful ways and their wrongdoings; their soul loathes all food and they reach the gates of death— they cry out to the Lord in their distress; He saves them from their afflictions. He sends forth His word and heals them; He delivers them from their graves. Let them thank the Lord for His Kindness, and [proclaim] His wonders to the children of man. If there be for a man [even] one interceding angel out of a thousand [accusers], to speak of his uprightness in his behalf, then He will be gracious to him and say: Redeem him from going down to the grave; I have found expiation [for him]."
Turn the money around your head 3 times while reciting the following:
זֶה חֲלִיפָתִי, זֶה תְּמוּרָתִי, זֶה כַּפָּרָתִי. זֶה הַתַּרְנְגוֹל יֵלֵךְ לְמִיתָה [זֶה הַכֶּסֶף יֵלֵךְ לִצְדָקָה], וַאֲנִי אֵלֵךְ לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים אֲרֻכִּים וּלְשָׁלוֹם:
"This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my expiation. This money shall go to Tzedaka and I shall proceed to a good, long life and peace."
Repeat the above procedure 3 times
Put the amount and/or the cheque in an envelope and send to one of the following addresses.
JEWISH COMMUNITY CYPRUS
P.O. Box 42461, 6534 Larnaca, Cyprus
NAME: Jewish Community Cyprus
BANK: Bank of Cyprus
Grigori Afxentiou Branch – No. 0556
Account #: 357019355859
IBAN CY 24002001950000357019355859
In the UK:
Mail a check:
British Friends of Jewish Community Cyprus
156 HOLMLEIGH ROAD N16 LONDON UK
C/O RABBI YOSEF YINZCHOK RASKIN
British Friends of Jewish Community Cyprus
Bank Details: Sort code 40-07-15
Account No. 32146274
The Custom of Kaparot
Some have the custom of performing the rite of kaparot [symbolic atonement] on the day preceding Yom Kippur; if it is not possible to do so then, the rite may be performed earlier.
The rite consists of taking a chicken in one's hand and reciting a prayer. A man takes a rooster; a woman takes a hen; a pregnant woman takes two fowls - a hen and a rooster. Optimally, the fowl should be white to symbolize purification from sin, as the verse (Isaiah 1:8) states: And if your sins be like scarlet, they shall become as white as snow. One should not, however, make an excessive effort to find a white fowl.
If a rooster or a hen is unavailable, one may substitute other fowl or animals; even a fish may be used for the rite. However, one should not use doves, since doves were brought as sacrificial offerings in the Temple, and this may give rise to the mistaken impression that the kapparot are a form of sacrifice.
The fowl [or other animal] used for kaparot is taken in the right hand and the appropriate text from the prayer book is recited. The bird is then waved over one's head three times and the appropriate text is recited.
The word kaparot [like kippur] means "atonement," and is used to refer to the chickens themselves, but one should not think that kaparot themselves serve as a source of atonement. Rather, they serve as a means to bring a person to the awareness that he might very well be deserving of death because of his sins and he will thereby be motivated to repent and ask G‑d for mercy.
The fowl is then slaughtered in accordance with Halachic procedure.
It is customary to redeem the kaparot for money, which is then given to the poor; some give the fowls themselves to the poor. Others perform the entire rite only with money, reciting the prescribed verses and giving the money to charity.