A state judge in Manhattan on Monday refused to block Orthodox Jewish congregations in Brooklyn from carrying out the bloody Kaporos chicken-slaughter ritual on public streets in advance of Yom Kippur.

Residents and animal-welfare activist groups had sued, claiming the ritual -- an atonement ceremony in which believers swing the chickens by their wings and slit their throats -- subjected them to both a grisly display of screaming birds and a public health hazard.

Supreme Court Judge Debra James, dodging the claimed conflict between religious rights and public health, ruled that city officials had discretion to decide whether to enforce sanitary codes, and private parties couldn't sue over an alleged "public nuisance."

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Lawyer Nora Constance Marino, who brought the suit, said that although she respected the ruling, "I feel terrible for my clients who are going to be forced to endure this bloodbath for another year and . . . deal with sights, sounds, smells, blood and toxins that could lead to a major public health threat."

Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city law department, said, "We are pleased that the court recognized the city's authority to exercise discretion in this matter."