“I take too many selfies.” “I posted angry stuff hastily on Facebook and then things got ugly with some relatives.” “I am sorry that I eat my sister’s toast.”
Those are just a few of the thousands of sins that people recently confessed to eScapegoat — an online, animated goat created three years ago by the S.F-based Jewish multimedia nonprofit G-dcast.
“It’s a very popular goat,” said Lisa Finkelstein, audience development manager for G-dcast. “We would love to see it come back next year, but we’re a very small nonprofit and we’ll have to see if we have the capacity to bring it back. I hope we can.”
G-dcast began eScapegoat in 2013 with a two-year grant. Through a website, an app and Twitter, people are able to anonymously confess their sins — up to 120 characters’ worth — from the first week of the Hebrew month of Elul until the day before Yom Kippur.
The project blends modern technology with the ancient tradition, described in Leviticus, of a goat being symbolically burdened with the sins of the Israelites before being sent off into the wilderness.
“This goat has been such a good friend,” said Sarah Lefton, founder and executive director of G-dcast. “We’ve had such fun with the project from the get-go and it has resonated with so many people, from rabbis to college students to parents with little kids. Most unexpectedly has been how seriously people have taken their interactions with it.”
If the project fails to get more funding, however, it might not return. In fact, without funding this year, G-dcast wasn’t able to promote it as it had in years past.
Still, “we did get quite a successful turnout,” Finkelstein said, “with sins numbering in the thousands.” Also, more than 50 synagogues, JCCs and other Jewish entities across the country signed on with G-dcast to have their own eScapegoat pages, where members of that community could enter their sins and see the anonymous sins of other community members.
Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, Congregation Sha’ar Zahav in San Francisco and the Peninsula JCC were some of the local participants. Rabbi Ted Riter, interim rabbi at Sha’ar Zahav, even mentioned the eScapegoat during his Yom Kippur sermon; at one congregation in Los Angeles, 10 eScapegoat sins were read during Kol Nidre.
The best sins are collected and posted online at www.escgoat.com/byebye. Here are some submitted this year:
“I started pretending I have stomach aches so I can spend more time in the bathroom playing games on my phone.”
“I’m so sorry that I hurt you. I never meant to. I just wanted everything to go right but instead it all went so wrong.”
“I am secretly gleeful that my old high school boyfriends are all bald and that my husband has a full head of hair.”
“I was not friendly and inclusive to new people at parties.”
“I ate my nephew’s cupcake and blamed it on the dog.”
“I parked in a handicapped space when it was raining.”
In addition to eScapegoat, G-dcast designed and introduced a new Yom Kippur app this year called Jonah Run. Designed as an infinite runner game, it allows users to jump into the biblical book of Jonah (read during Yom Kippur services) by becoming characters.
Users can score points by facing situations that cause people to sin and not giving in, or by engaging in repentance. The app is available for Android and iOS. For more information, visit www.g-dcast.com/jonah-infinite-runner.