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Kaparot: an ancient and mystical custom

The orthodox Jewish ceremony involves taking a white chicken and waving it over a person's head while a prayer is recited, "This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This chicken will go to its death while I will enter and proceed to a good long life and peace." The chicken is then slaughtered, and it is given to the poor.

Most Jews today perform the Kaparot by waving money that's been wrapped in a white cloth over their head, reciting the prayer and then donating the money to charity.