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
[twitter-follow screen_name='JRavitzCNN']

(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. niknak

    How convenient for you believers to have all these little outs for all your "sins" so you can sleep better at night.
    Let's just call it what it is;

    The Dou che bag day.

    You believers can keep on being good little hypocrites by doing all the things you waive your lily white fingers at others when they do it, then get "absolved" on Dou che bag day, then feel warm and fuzzy knowing that your imaginary friend will still let you into heaven.

    Throw in some animal sacrifice, and you are all made men/woman.
    How wonderful........except for the animal I guess.

    September 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Lisa

      If you think of yourself as God's trained poodle, then it only follows that there be hoops for you to jump through before you get your "treat", I suppose?

      September 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • Honey Badger Don't Care

        Too funny Lisa, I love it!

        September 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
      • niknak

        I would take the trained poodles any day over the believers.

        Poodles at worst will chew up an expensive shoe or go on the rug.

        The believers will fly airplanes into buildings.......

        September 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • Lisa

          I'm implying that believers are the poodles, honey.

          September 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
      • niknak

        Of course you are.
        I was making the argument that if the believers was just a poodle, then the worst would be a mess on the rug.
        With the human version, one gets some really nasty stuff.

        September 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Lisa

          Ah, I see.


          September 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • tom

      I'm sorry that your meanness and inconsideration for others bothers me.

      September 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
      • Lisa

        “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

        ― Thomas Jefferson

        September 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • niknak

        Why does it bother you Tom Cat?
        If you are so sure your imaginary friend is real, then nothing an atheist could ever say would make you upset.

        Go ahead and make fun of gravity, we atheists won't feel upset at all.
        See the difference?
        Deep down inside you believers really don't know for sure you are right in your beliefs. And it makes you mad that we point this out, and that you have zero proof to come back at us with.

        I for one am tired of keeping this little farce going where we the non believers have to keep our mouths shut about the drivel you believers try to pass off as fact.

        Face it Tom, your belief is nothing more then your opinion. I may have to respect you, but I don't have to respect your opinion when you try to pass your opinion off as fact and then go on trying to include your opinion into our secular government.

        btw, could you please tell your deadbeat house of myth to start paying their fare share of local taxes.
        We non believers are tired of subsidizing all of your various house's of myths when it comes to local taxes.

        September 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • Sara

          I don't get mad with atheists. Personally I think y'all have more faith than everyone else to believe that there is no God. It's misplaced faith, but faith nonetheless. I get frustrated that atheists bash all Christians when one Christian makes a mess of things. But I also get frustrated when Christians bash others as well. I think, NikNak, that you'd make a great Christian if your faith was in the Christian God. But that is my opinion, not me forcing my belief on you.

          As for this article, I find it fascinating that the Jewish community has evolved as it has. The question I had in my head was whether the organization that created this app are Orthodox or Reformed Jews. I'm just curious to know.

          September 17, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Tik-Tak

      no one says you have to sleep or walk around with your guilty mnd. try to take it out in bathroom, it works (make sure there are no hidden cameras behind the mirrors).

      September 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  2. Two chicks at the same time man. I figure a guy with a million dollars could hook sumthin' like that up man.

    🙂 .

    September 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Sinner Goldberg

      I had 50 bucks and a case of wine. Very mellow.

      September 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  3. Honey Badger Don't Care

    “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.

    Notice that there is a comma after "should have told her". What he continued to say, but they cut off was "but she was so F'ing HOT."

    September 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I've been there.
      She was Jewish too...

      September 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Apple Bush

    In the middle of the icy bridge, snow falling and icicles forming on girders;

    Music from a box keeping a steady soundtrack to our guilt free fun as we hug and smoke and dance.

    In her bed, the same bed, one with another, the other wide awake.

    Friends and lovers, at wonder of these awakenings;

    With a single spirit the ecstasy is subdued and sublime.

    Coffee, homework, drugs;

    Standing high upon my dorm room balcony; I am tall.

    September 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • The Flamingo Kid

      Don't quit your day job.

      September 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        What makes you think I have a day job?

        September 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • niknak

      I dig it.
      Pair those lyrics up with a bossa beat and you might have something.

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

        I dig the Beats cool cats.

        September 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  5. Honey Badger Don't Care

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

    I always say that after I choose chicken instead of steak. "I should have had the steak!"

    September 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  6. Honey Badger Don't Care

    This is just BEGGING for a South Park espisode.

    September 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Joey

      In my opinion everything is begging for a South Park episode. Luckily it is only 12 more days until the new season starts.

      September 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm |


    September 13, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • The Congo


      September 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • KFS (Kentucky Fried Sushi)


        September 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Doris

      Poor thing. Ever since they saw the movie "*batteries not included" they haven't been the same..

      September 13, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  8. children of Israel

    Satanists cannot say a word about the God of Jacob, because Satan will kill them. But they deny Christ but are afraid of Our Father. (Ezekiel 21:23) *Matthew 22:32*

    September 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      "Ho, Ho, Ho... Well, if it isn't stinking Billygoat Billyboy in poison. How are thou, thou globby bottle of cheap stinking chip oil? Come and get one in the yarbles, if you have any yarbles, you eunuch jelly thou." Alexander DeLarge

      September 13, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      It will take your God's entire invisible army pushing on by back to get me to kneel, so far all i've felt is a light breeze. You can fantasize about your God's infaticide if you like, but that doesn't seem to be a healthy way to spend ones life.

      September 13, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
      • Vic

        "but that doesn't seem to be a healthy way to spend ones life."

        Unlike hanging out on the CNN blogs right?

        September 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        • Lisa

          Maybe you should ask yourself that question, Vic? You sure do spend as much time here as anyone else.

          September 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • Vic

          Chill little lady. I'm not the one mocking the way a person spends their time. Just pointing out that he isn't spending it any better than the other guy.

          September 13, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        Better than dreaming about your God murdering babies...

        September 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Vic

          I think Just got a wee bit offended. Oh well.

          September 13, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  9. Gourd Vine


    September 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Tristan

      Q. Why should we be encouraged by the story of Jonah and the whale?
      A. Because Jonah was down in the mouth, but came out all right.

      Q: Why couldn't Jonah trust the ocean?
      A: Because he know there was something fishy about it.

      Q: Why could Jonah be eaten by the big fish?
      A: He was one of the "minor prophets"!

      September 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  10. ADIDAS

    "I saw perfectly round backside of some old lady and felt like banging her" I wonder people are posting confessions of their s/exual day dreaming.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I didn't realize wanting to bang an old lady was a sin... weird yes... sin no...

      September 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Is it weird to respect experience?

        September 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of the AAA)

          Is it weird to yell at mice partially clothed?

          September 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No, certainly not. I do it. Mickey Rooney does it.


          September 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
      • Lisa

        It's certainly not a sin if you're an old man, ... or even another old woman. 🙂

        September 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Sin is an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law"
      – St. Augustine

      Wanting do schtup an old lady is as sinful as actually doing it.

      September 13, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        Unless it's YOUR old lady...

        September 13, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  11. Dyslexic doG

    mind numbing foolishness.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Vic

      -take a day-

      September 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        everyday, unfortunately.

        September 13, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  12. children of Israel

    The Star of Jacob is Christ The God of Jacob he rules, and the world will bow down. The proud will be destroyed for our God is a consuming fire *Obadiah 1:18* (Genesis 27:29) *Luke 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Sea Otter (Leader of the AAA)

      Cartman: Hey you guys, you know what they call a Jewish woman's boobs? ...Joobs!

      September 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Do you know why Jews have glassy eyes?

        September 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of the AAA)

          Quickly quickly... I'm about to leave for the day... Why do they have glassy eyes?

          September 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Unresolved. Ask Cartman, he never elucidated.

          September 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • Sea Otter (Leader of the AAA)

          Science damn you, Cartman!

          September 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Science damn the Time Child!!

          September 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      The Star of "Jacob" was Dylan Horne as a quick search of IMDB will show...

      September 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  13. Uncouth Swain

    I think the site is cute fun.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  14. children of Israel

    The God of Jacob he rules, and the world will bow down. The proud will be destroyed for our God is a consuming fire *Obadiah 1:18* (Genesis 27:29) *Luke 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "The God of Jacob he rules, and the world will bow down." Nope

      September 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Cristeros for Satan

      Humans rule the world....not fantasy characters

      September 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  15. Alien Orifice

    Did God finish designing the brain yet? It seems like it needs some work.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:26 pm |

      Godless Vagabond
      Everyone's brain is finished, but god didn't fill them all.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        It would seem as though some were Varnished instead of finished... that would explain how so many people still believe in they can communicate telepathically with an invisible sky father along so as to resist the vengeful invisible gremlins that have real world effects on human outcomes...

        September 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  16. Hungry Jews/Muslims (at a Puerto Rican barbeque)


    September 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  17. Crying Babies

    Jew Bless all Gods, and be reckless. You are America's only enemy in the ME.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  18. Crying Baby (In the seat behind you on an international flight)

    🙁 . 🙁

    September 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  19. Doc Vestibule

    Seems that a lot of Jewish religious obervances boil down to either feeling guilty or remembering all the times others tried and failed to kill them...

    September 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Tu Bishvat was kind of nice.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  20. Lazy Catholic

    God Bless all Jews, and be safe. You are America's only friend in the ME.

    September 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      i agree, crazy catholic. especially since jordan started rattlling their sabres

      September 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Israel was the worst idea ever conceived.

      September 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Uncouth Swain

        I'm pretty sure millions of people would disagree.

        September 13, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Good for them.

          September 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
        • Uncouth Swain

          It is good for them, or was depending on one's time frame.

          September 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6
About this blog

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.