LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Two operations in the Pico-Robertson area were ordered Friday by the Calif. Department of Food and Agriculture to shut down a traditional Jewish ritual involving slaughtering chickens.

Bait Aaron, a Sephardic Orthodox outreach group, and Ohel Moshe, a synagogue, were performing kaparot, which is practiced by a small group of Orthodox Jews on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.

Kaparot is an ancient ritual in which a person swings a live chicken overhead three times and recites a prayer. The bird is then slaughtered and given to the poor.

“It’s not meant to be to hurt these animals in any way, not anyone can slaughter these animals,” Ohel Moshe congregant Omid Dayan said. “It has to be a certified person there. The whole purpose is to sacrifice the chicken in the least harmful way as possible.”

Rabbi Jonathan Klein of Faith Action For Animals, an animal rights group, shot video outside a synagogue Thursday that outraged his membership.

“This is a ritual that has no obligation for any Jew to do,” Klein said. “I think Kaparot as a concept is wonderful, but when it involves using chickens, and it causes mass slaughter then we have a real problem, and it’s a problem for the whole community.”

Ohel Moshe congregants believe the ritual is misunderstood.

“They’re not just doing it and throwing it in the garbage can. They’re using this food; they’re giving it to poor people and they actually eat it,” Fred Cohen said.

But Klein’s group captured video of dozens of trash bags being loaded into trucks.

“We have visuals with the bodies of chickens in bags being thrown into a truck,” he added.

State officials said they are willing to work with the two locations cited for not having a proper license for killing the animals.

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