The Practice of Kaparot at Jerusalems Mahne Yehuda. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

(JTA) — An animal rights group filed a lawsuit against a Jewish center in Los Angeles to prevent it from using live chickens in a pre-Yom Kippur ritual known as kapparot.

The lawsuit against the Woodland Hills Hebrew Discovery Center was filed earlier this month in Los Angeles Superior Court by the Animal Protection and Rescue League and asks for an injunction to prevent the practice.

The center performed the ritual last year in its parking lot. The lawsuit alleges that the chickens were killed and discarded without using them for food, violating an animal rights law that bars maliciously and intentionally mutilating, torturing or wounding animals, the Los Angeles Times reported.

During the ceremony, a chicken is swung by its legs above a person and then slaughtered.  By performing kapparot, a person’s sins are said to be symbolically transferred to the chicken as part of the process of repentance ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The meat of the chicken is then supposed to be donated to charity. Some people perform the ritual using money in place of a chicken.

In recent years, lawsuits against the practice have been filed in New York and California.

Earlier this month the center was vandalized, with white paint being splashed all over the front of the building. Repairing the damage cost about $10,000. Vandals also hit the synagogue in 2016.

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