I think my favorite book of Erica Silverman's is When the Chickens Went on Strike. She based it on a short story by the great Sholom Aleichem (most renowned for having written the tales upon which Fiddler on the Roof was based), and illustrated by Matthew Trueman.
As I wrote in my review of it, I found it to be a completely ridiculous story, kind of an absurd Animal Farm with a religious foundation instead of a political one. But also extremely funny. Taking place on Rosh Hashanah, it centers specifically on the practice of kaporos. This is when a Jewish person, in order that they may best absolve themselves of any wrongdoing before the eyes of almighty God, proceed to take a live chicken and wave it about above their heads, all the meanwhile reciting prayers.
|This actually happens|
|Alliance to End Chicken as Kaporos|
I found that Erica's book is featured prominently on a website called Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos. To my shock, I found that this practive of kaporos still happens to this day! I had no idea. I asked Erica if she was familiar with the alliance.
I had been aware of (what I thought were) rare occasions of a return to kapores among some religious communities, but was quite shocked to learn that it seems to have made a resurgence! Sholom Aleichem must be rolling over in his grave (groaning and gaffawing)! And his story, written so long ago, has meaning again. Who could have foreseen it? Back in the late 19th century, Sholom Aleichem was documenting the transition from the old Jewish world to a more modern one.
|From When the Chickens Went on Strike|
|Don't do it, little girl!|
*I was eminently pleased to learn this plural form of shtetl. And you should be, too!