App offers sinners a virtual scapegoat
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App offers sinners a virtual scapegoat

Ahead of High Holidays, San Francisco nonprofit G-dcast posts users' anonymous confessions online

Illustrative photo of goats (Sarah Schuman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of goats (Sarah Schuman/Flash90)

A San Francisco-based organization wants Jewish believers to unburden themselves of any sinful acts they may have committed throughout their lives — by means of a virtual goat.

Jewish nonprofit G-dcast recently launched a new “atonement app” that allows users to submit 140 characters — personal confessions to the @SinfulGoat Twitter handle — and “atone online.” The confessions are received anonymously, so as not to deter wrongdoers who may have otherwise have felt sheepish.

The Twitter account, which greets users with a picture of a bespectacled billy, makes the testimonies public so that others can solemnly reflect upon, or hurl derision at, the misdeeds of their fellows.

“At work I have earphones in but no music playing so I can hear what is going on but not having to contribute,” one user admitted via the app.

“Sometimes when I see on the caller ID that it’s my mother in law calling, I hit the ‘ignore’ button,” confessed another.

The term scapegoat originated with the biblical tradition of casting a goat out into the desert, to a place called Azazel, during the High Holiday of Yom Kippur. The scapegoat, it was believed, “carried the sins” of the entire nation of Israel as it plummeted off a cliff at the end of the ritual.

“The scapegoat story is one of the wildest, weirdest stories we have in the Bible. We wanted to share it with everyone,” said G-dcast’s director, Sarah Lefton, in a press release last week.

“Like everything we do, it’s ultimately about raising basic Jewish literacy, but it’s pretty fun, no matter how tame or edgy your sins may be.”

G-dcast has arranged a number of events in the Bay area in order to spread word about the app, including farm-themed parties attended by real live goats.

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