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It's Yom Kippur, and this goat wants your sins
The force behind eScapegoat is G-dcast, a San Francisco nonprofit working to making Jewish learning fun.
September 13th, 2013
10:46 AM ET

It's Yom Kippur, and this goat wants your sins

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Calling all Jews! Your confessional clock is ticking.

With Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement - starting at sunset Friday (and ending the following night), this is your last chance to wipe your slates clean of the wrongs you’ve committed over the past year.

Oh, sure, you’ll be able to participate in a communal confession of sins Saturday in synagogue. But we know as well as you do that your community won’t hear everything you did.

It’s time to fess up.

Blending ancient tradition with modern innovation, there’s a newish Jewish Web app to help you lighten the load of guilt and spill your bad deeds. It’s called eScapegoat, and the whimsical tool lets you type your confessions in a Twitter-friendly format and see others’ also.

Best of all, you can remain utterly anonymous. Rabbis might call this cheating. We’re having too much fun to care.

“I claimed the soup was vegan. It wasn’t,” wrote one sinner.

“I yell at people from my car, even if they aren’t driving poorly,” shared another.

“I am hot with shame that my son only has a brown belt in his Kung Fu training,” said a third.

The force behind this endeavor is G-dcast, a San Francisco nonprofit committed to making Jewish learning fun through animated videos, apps and more.

The organization’s name, if anyone’s confused, is written this way because in the Jewish tradition it’s considered a no-no to write the name of God - hence the hyphen.

Calling the Web app eScapegoat is a play on a practice observed during biblical times when the Temple still stood in Jerusalem and sacrifices were offered for atonement.

Here’s how it worked way back then during what we now know as Yom Kippur, according to the confessional tool:

The High Priest took two goats. He sacrificed one and then he laid his hands on the other, transferring the community’s sins into it. Then, he sent the SCAPEGOAT off into the wilderness.

From the goat’s perspective, neither path ended well.

You, dear friends, can’t rely on some wandering, set-up-to-die goat to do your bidding - which is why you are commanded to make public confessions in synagogue during Yom Kippur.

But that doesn’t mean burdens can’t be laid on a virtual goat, too. Right?

The Web app was launched on August 9 during the first week of Elul, the month on the Jewish calendar that precedes the High Holy Days - which start with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and end 10 days later with Yom Kippur.

Elul is the time when Jews traditionally self-reflect, look back on their year, take stock of how they behaved and think about what they can do better.

And if they can replace “crappy mobile device time with meaningful mobile device time,” all the better, said Sarah Lefton, G-dcast’s executive director and producer.

By Thursday night, nearly 5,000 confessions had been “laid on the goat,” Lefton reported. And nearly 21,000 “goaters,” or Web app visitors, had stopped by.

The app gives users the ability to type their confessions in a Twitter-friendly format. (Image courtesy G-dcast)

A compilation of some of G-dcast’s favorite sins, so far, also were released as the eScapegoat approached his final hours.

Someone at G-dcast set out to categorize the kinds of sins that were coming in earlier this week. The resulting themes, Lefton said, generally focused on lying, Internet use, anger, gossip, lack of time spent with loved ones and cheating.

Some of the confessions have been downright heavy.

“I should have had the baby,” one wrote, according to Lefton.

“I was never in love with my fiancée and should have told her,” said another on the Twitter account set up to list sins, aptly named @Sinfulgoat.

Also spotted was the one who wrote in, “For cutting, starving and disrespecting my body.”

Did Lefton, 40, and the others expect such seriousness?

“No. I didn’t. At all,” she said. “But the generation after me is so into oversharing, so it shouldn’t surprise me. But it still does.”

Another surprise has been the number of confessions directly related to Judaism. Several illustrated the tensions some Jews face this time of year.

“My family is no longer interested in practicing Judaism. I resent them for it. I feel they’ve taken something from me,” wrote one person.

“I’m sorry for all the sins I committed that I didn’t even know were sins because I lost touch with my Judaism,” another said.

And a third: “I am going to Las Vegas on Yom Kippur … That cannot be good …”

Lefton doesn’t want anyone thinking eScapegoat is a substitute for the real deal.

“This Web app is in no way trying to replace public confession,” she said. “We designed it as a lighthearted warm-up for the Day of Atonement. But if people are getting something more profound out of it, that’s great.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Holidays • Judaism • Social media

soundoff (491 Responses)
  1. Reality # 2

    The felony of the century, the sin of the millennium, the wrong that cries out to Heaven for justice 🙂 :

    Committed by 1.5 million Conservative Jews and their rabbis ?(~10% of the world's Jewish population) with

    their New Torah for Modern Minds (The Tree of Life), where they state:

    “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses.

    (prob•a•bly
    Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

    September 14, 2013 at 12:10 am |
    • Rational Thought

      Okay, who keeps inviting uncle buzzkill and captain obvious inside? Yes! It’s a glaringly obvious myth built upon a foundation of earlier ignorant myths – carefully sculpted out of previous myths to be more palatable for the new credulous Michelle Bachmans, GWBs, Rick Perrys and Sarah Palins that ride the short bus of reality.

      We are outnumbered by the fecal brained religious morons that will probably destroy humanity before they ever begin to achieve the intellectual equivalent of changing their own diapers.

      Join us and laugh at the glaringly clueless and hilarious irony of the arrogantly ignorant masses eating their own excrement as they call it chocolate.

      September 14, 2013 at 12:27 am |
      • D-

        stereotyping a group of people you don't like is not 'rational thought' it is not even clever. and when you say 'we' laughing do you mean just you. cuz i don't see anyone following you and your absurd notions of what it means to have a rational thought. good luck on future posts.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:36 am |
        • Rational Thought

          Wow! Censorship? Good for you, that’s not at all the tired song of small minds. Well done. Are you CNN Staff?

          September 14, 2013 at 1:44 am |
        • Rational Thought

          I find it quite illuminating that my posts are now censored. Yeah, keep eating that chocolate.

          September 14, 2013 at 1:46 am |
        • Rational Thought

          If someone proudly and vehemently proclaims that the earth is flat and only 6,000 years old. It is they that invite ridicule, not me. I am not persecuting or singling anyone out. They are standing on their own bully pulpit and smashing their own hammer into their own head.

          For me to point and laugh is not a form of persecution, sir master chocolate aficionado.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:00 am |
        • Rational Thought

          Your Mum just mentioned to me that you’re a bit dim. Sorry to treat you as if you could stand up to defend your silly words.

          I promise you that this will be more painful for you than it is for me. Step up on that bully pulpit and grasp that hammer firmly can you?

          September 14, 2013 at 2:21 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Have a day off.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:25 am |
        • Rational Thought

          I enjoy being lectured by master chocolate aficionados. Your Mum showed me the participation badge you once earned. You should feel so proud despite the obvious disappointments of reality.

          I’m ready to be lectured again. This may not actually end in your continued embarrassment unless you’re truly unable to recognize yourself in a mirror.

          Teach me.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:34 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          OK, don't have a day off.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:36 am |
        • Rational Thought

          @Dave

          The ignorant child should not grab the tiger by the tail and pretend to be the chocolate eating victor.

          Child, hammer, tiger, tail… it’s out of my hands at this point. Some children need to meet the wall they arrogantly try to run through.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:41 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          So be it.

          September 14, 2013 at 2:45 am |
        • NClaw441

          RT– It is not so much a matter of censorship but of simple good manners and kindness. Sure, you have the absolute right to be rude and unkind, but to what end? You are like the guy at a party who interrupts a few people who are discussing politics to tell them how stupid they are to be talking about it. You may be right (or not), but what business is it of yours to disrupt other people who are doing no harm?

          You come across as someone in desperate need of attention. I guess the forum satisfies that need.

          September 14, 2013 at 6:55 am |
        • Sara

          Interesting...RT seems to think the people objecting to his vulgarity are all Christian (yes, I waded through his oh-so-deep metaphors). I suppose there is. 'we' around here somewhere who may chime in to join him.

          September 14, 2013 at 7:04 am |
  2. Vic

    It's eerie in here, it must be Friday the 13th thing!

    September 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
  3. Apple Bush

    Apple Bush

    Who here among you would stand with me in front of this congregation and the Lord Himself and declare that having a girlfriend who's roommates walk around the house naked all the time is better then god. Oh yeah, they are smokin' hot.

    September 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • UD

      Are they completely shaved? Count me in.

      September 13, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I would swim through an ocean of shit just to suck off the last guy why fucked them.

      September 13, 2013 at 10:23 pm |

      • Orifcer, I swear I was just trying to help him pick up the soap.

        September 13, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
        • Rational Thought

          A hetero Atheist can’t even be honest here. Any darkness equals all conceivable darkness. Failing to have or maintain a smokey and the bandit (magnum Pi) mustache betrays the truth of any honest real man. Only true men hedge all of their manhood on the arbitrary impulses of pretend mistakes. None of this is ironic or easily predicted by the un-mustached one.

          September 14, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Dippy

      Whose, not who's.

      September 13, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
      • Rational Thought

        Okay, who invited uncle buzzkill? Oh, sorry…. *aheeem*…. Which of those among us hath negligently exercised such a grievous lack of judgment as to let in the above mentioned less interesting version of rain man?

        September 13, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  4. Apple Bush

    The force behind eScapegoat is G-dcast, a San Francisco nonprofit working to making Jewish un-learning fun.

    September 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  5. HeavenScent

    Makes as much sense as Jebus dying for sins.
    We got our goat.
    Thanks anyway.

    September 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    Who here among you would stand in front of this congregation and the Lord Himself and declare that Melissa Milano is better than God? I would.

    September 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Who here among you would stand with me in front of this congregation and the Lord Himself and declare that pretty much any Asian chick is better than God?

      September 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • Rational Thought

      I must admit to a recurring vision I keep having involving myself, Alyssa Milano, Lucy Liu and a large tub of pork smoked barbecue sauce. There is nothing more divine than that tub of blissful perfection.

      September 13, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        "Alyssa Milano, Lucy Liu"?

        Strange reference. Did I wake up in the nineties? Am I on a dial-up connection? Please reverse your time machine, I really don't want to go back to an era where I saw maybe five naked women after three hours online, not when today I can have five videos of Asian girls defecating in each other's mouths open together instantaneously.

        September 14, 2013 at 1:26 am |
        • Rational Thought

          The origin of the words was not mine. Sometimes being humble enough to understand where another human being is coming from might seem silly. Yes, I have not understood any of it. Those that know me won’t trust me regardless of language. If anyone wants to wake up and be real along side me? This will not at all end in truth.

          September 14, 2013 at 5:25 am |
        • Rational Thought

          Your advocacy for deification speaks volumes for whom you could be even if you someday stopped lying. After all it’s just one lonely liar and one cup. Doubt me? Try me.

          September 14, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Hmmmm.........who else is in that tub??

      September 13, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
      • Rational Thought

        Aki Hoshino is a silent partner in the warm tub of blissful barbeque perfection. She’s a 36 year old asian Goddess. By introducing you to her, I’m not sure if I should say “you’re welcome” or “I’m sorry”.

        You can never unsee what has been seen.

        September 13, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
        • Rational Thought

          Judging by your silence I can assume that “you’re welcome” should be my appropriate response. Just pace yourself and don’t forget to rehydrate.

          September 13, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
      • Rational Thought

        ohhh? I really hate liars so much. I love to gift more rope to any liars. You wish to lie more? Here is my gift to you. Show yourself through your actions.

        I really relish that moment when liars begin to regret their lies.

        September 14, 2013 at 6:54 am |
  7. Age of Reason

    ...now you see! The jews (the most successful people on this earth) don't need this phoney mythical, construct called "JESUS" to succeed and neither do YOU nor anyone else! This "jesus" is a cursed satanic fairytale who NEVER existed and DO NOT believe in him!

    September 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      …now you are still blind! The Jews (the most annoying people on this Earth) don’t need this phony, mythical, construct called “ABRAHAM” to fail and neither do YOU nor anyone else! This “Abraham” is a cursed satanic fairytale who NEVER existed and DO NOT lend him anything.

      September 13, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  8. Tom,Tom, the Other One

    When I meet God I intend to tell Him how much smarter I am than He is.

    September 13, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Tom, you can't be that smart if you think you're actually going to meet god someday!

      September 13, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for idiots and credulous people

      There's a meet and greet after the goat goes up. God will be there along with Sting. If you haven't been to one of these be sure to try bacon-wrapped fried jalapenos with crab stuffing. And the cidre de glace is excellent with the little creamy pastries.

      September 13, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
      • Rational Thought

        Your comment literally made me laugh so hard I cried a little. I doth tip my hat to you good Sir.

        September 13, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Will Sting grace us with a song or two?

        September 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
        • doobzz

          He's gonna show us that tantric sex stuff. I hope he left Trudie at home.

          September 14, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I think it might work better if we have some guy eat the goat. Maybe the sin will, like, transfer to him. Then there'll be just this one guy with sin, you know? Then we can kill him and he'll come back to life. We'll do it every year. Not just one time like before. I don't think that worked at all.

    September 13, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Tom,Tom, the Other One

      Then again when I buy a car that the manufacturer says needs gasoline I think it should run on diesel, so why not use it?

      September 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        That's really up to you.

        September 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
      • Tom,Tom, the Other One

        No no its up to you

        September 13, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    September 13, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for idiots and credulous people

      My brain hurts when I think. Let us pray.

      September 13, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    Yom Kippur is better then being stranding with a naked Mila Jojovich on a deserted island.

    September 13, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  12. Apple Bush

    The grave digs a while, deep enough for you and your flat screen and a few other gadgets. The worshippers believe if you are buried with your valuables you will get to set up a “cloud” in heaven and you can access your music from any of your wireless devices.

    The grave leans on his shovel and thinks for a moment.

    Being older and more knowledgeable, the dirt guru decided to just fill in the hole and quit for the day. The sun burned bright and the pebbles in the grave’s dirt lit up the hole.

    He found some shade and quietly hoped no one would try to bury themselves.

    September 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  13. paul

    what a load of dung!

    September 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      One tiny hole that is; zero
      Large porous spaces
      Edges
      Grass and critters. Critters crawling by; Crawling
      Tiny little holes; giant tiny holes
      Absorbing and spinning and crashing
      One narrative of all perception; the position can’t change
      You are right there

      September 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  14. Sinner Goldberg

    W
    H
    A
    T
    ?

    September 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  15. Apple Bush

    I bet Jesus nipped at the wine more than he let on.

    September 13, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • 616

      Is there some sort of problem with wine? Like ho mose xuality, Jesus had very little to say on the topic.

      September 13, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        616, no, there is nothing wrong with some wine and some anal. Usually the wine leads to the anal. I bet Jesus had a lively camp!

        September 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
        • 616

          I'm certain that the house wins all those bets.

          September 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
      • doobzz

        He probably also had a sense of humor, that is, if he really existed.

        September 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3 When the gays were gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more gays, who will the women chat about fashion with?.”

        4 “Mother, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

        5 His mother said to the servants, “You six, do whatever he tells you.”

        6 Nearby stood six hansom waiters, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

        7 Jesus said to the waiters, “Fill your jars with wine”; so they filled them to the brim.

        8 Then he told them, “Now draw some men out and take them to the master of the banquet. and splash some of this wine on them”

        They did so, 9 and the master of the banquet tested the waiter that had been splashed with wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had splashed the waiter knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10 and said, “Everyone brings out the choice gays first and then the cheaper gays after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

        September 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Waiter! Another red please!

          September 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    •  

      Godless Vagabond
      Well, hell, he might as well have. After all, he could change water into wine, right? Somebody had to drink iy.

      September 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  16. dina

    OMG. Jessica, are you a Jewish princess?

    September 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  17. us_1776

    This is the most friggin ridiculous thing I've seen in a while.

    .

    September 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  18. NORMAL

    Technology is making religious people even kookier.

    September 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @normal

      In what way? They have always been nothing but looney toons.

      September 13, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  19. 2Bawaken

    The Evil Spirit Ruler of this world is the one who calls for Life's Blood to be spilled. It is he behind the world conflict involving the taking of Innocent Lives. The Satan or Chief Opponent of Man was the one who held the power of Death. It was always his desire to destroy what lives. Remember the Father of Heaven is a Pure Spirit and Judges none. Satan exercises his authority in "His" world by calling down death to all. Our death is averted everyday because the Pure Spirit intercedes by supplying another "life" in return for mine until I am atoned for. That was the true meaning behind the day of atonement.

    September 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      God made Satan. God is responsible for all misery.

      September 13, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
      • Atheist, me?

        The US built the Atomic bomb. The US is responsible for Chernobyl and Kursk! Excellent reasoning!

        September 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          God made the U.S. God is responsible for is responsible for Chernobyl and Kursk.

          September 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          God is the creator of all things and the knower of all things. Free will is impossible. God knows when you will be born and when you will die. He, if he actually existed, would be an evil dictator. Forcing you to love you while He threatens you with violence. He is quite the opposite of good.

          September 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
        • doobzz

          God made science. Science created the atomic bomb. God is a murderer by proxy, just like Charles Manson.

          September 13, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
      • 2Bawaken

        All are born with a clean action record of innocence but tarnish it with their actions. As your brother was born. The wicked one was not always such but was the metaphysical ambassador or man. He defaulted in thus became the original opposer of man.

        September 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          And you can thank your evil god for that. He is responsible for all things.

          September 13, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Remember the Father of Heaven is a Pure Spirit and Judges none?

      So when the bible talks about judgment day, final judgment and burning in hell, it's just metaphor or transcription errors

      September 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        When I die, I just want to worship Alyssa Milano forever.

        September 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
      • 2Bawaken

        If you are familiar with the next to Kin avenging of Numbers 35 (ref.Leviticus 25:25) then you should understand that the right to avenge belongs to the closest relative. Once the right to rule man was purchased by the Mashiach by his blood offered to the one who lay claims to this body of blood. He gains the right to judge all, not the Father who does not Judge. (He is the infinite spirit who gives life) He (the Mashiach) gains this right because he is the Son of Man, born of a woman. Therefore he is our(humanity's) next to kin. He will exercise that power during the Great Judgement Day. Sons of Light receive eternal life and Sons of Darkness or Opposition receives judgement. Again the Infinite Spirit Only gives life and never judges. The Son of man does this because he purchased that right with cunning.

        September 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
        •  

          Godless Vagabond
          Whatever it is you're smoking, 2B, you should stop now.

          September 13, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
        • Squeaky Fromme

          The Son of Man? Manson? He was right!!

          September 14, 2013 at 12:11 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.