In the stone alleyways of Jerusalem neighborhoods, live chickens are repeatedly waved over the heads of strictly religious Jews before being slaughtered — a ritual authorities are discouraging. The annual atonement ritual known as kaparot occurs ahead of the fast day of Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar beginning Tuesday night. Many of those who participate in it believe it symbolically absolves them of their sins, which are transferred to the chicken. The slaughtered chicken is afterward donated to the poor or another worthy cause, if not kept for the family. But with public health and animal welfare in mind, Israeli authorities are encouraging the religious to opt out of using chickens in the ritual and simply donate money instead.
Chicken-swinging ritual endures despite animal welfare concerns | The Times of Israel
This is a practice in which a chicken or money is waved over a person's head and the chicken is then slaughtered in accordance with halachic rules. On the afternoon before Yom Kippur , one prepares an item to be donated to the poor for consumption at the pre-Yom Kippur meal,  recites the two biblical passages of Psalms and Job , and then swings the prepared charitable donation over one's head three times while reciting a short prayer three times. In one variant of the practice of Kapparot, the item to be donated to charity is a rooster. In this case, the rooster would be swung overhead while still alive.
As Mr. Lubin turned the bird in three small circles over her head, his wife read from a laminated card. In front of her was a double-wide stroller with two children on board. Behind a barricade a few feet away were about plastic crates full of live chickens.
Every year, before Yom Kippur , some Jews perform the ceremony of kapparot Heb. The following, in question and answer form, is a discussion of the ritual and its relation to the treatment of animals. Kapparot is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl. The hope is that the fowl, which is then donated to the poor for food, will take on any misfortune that might otherwise occur to the one who has taken part in the ritual, in punishment for his or her sins.