NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Some Brooklyn residents have filed a lawsuit to try to stop a Jewish religious ritual they call “barbaric.”

The lawsuit filed by the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos claims Brooklyn’s streets are being turned into slaughterhouses, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

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Kaporos is the centuries-old atonement ritual that calls for believers to wave a live chicken three times over their heads ahead of the arrival of Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day. It is believed that a person’s sins are symbolically transferred to the chickens before they’re slaughtered.

The lawsuit names four rabbis, several Hasidic congregations and the city as defendants. It claims the police and health departments enable the practice occurring in public by blocking off streets and sidewalks and not enforcing health and animal cruelty laws.

“It’s an illegal activity that produces an enormous amount of filth on the city streets,” said Karen Davis with the Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos.

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“Feathers and feces and all of that lying around, having chickens loaded up in transport crates where pedestrians are walking by,” she described.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew who represents Borough Park, disputed the allegations in the lawsuit.

“I have been part of this all my life,” said Hikind, a Democrat. “This thing about blood in the streets — I don’t know what in God’s name these people are talking about who have brought this lawsuit.

“The rabbis, the community understand that things have to be done in the most humane way and the most proper way because that it is our tradition,” he added.

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The chickens, he said, are donated to poor families.