Gone Goat

Rabbi Jessica Lott
September 24, 2013
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It must have been startling to watch. And cathartic.

That little goat up there. I’d put my sins on him. Oh yeah, I totally would. We all would.  And then they would send him away.

Trot off, little sins! Go out into the wilderness and never come back!

And then there’s the other goat. That one we’d kill. Burn him to bits. I know I’d be thinking of the first goat - the one with my sins wandering around out there - as I watched the second goat die. As the smoke billowed up from the altar, we would all really know he (and they – the sins) were dead and gone. They were never coming back.

That might feel more satisfying than listing them inside my head. Maybe if I had a goat to make it more concrete it would make it all make sense. Maybe I’d feel better at the end of the long long day of Yom HaKippurim, The Day of Covering Over, The Day of Clean Slates. At the end of the long, painful day of standing and droning and remembering and napping and trying to recall where I’ve gone astray.

At the end of the delirium, I might feel better if I had put my sins onto a goat rather than out into the ether. And I might feel better in the end if that goat got sent off, or slaughtered and burned to bits before my eyes.

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Rabbi Jessica Lott , Maryland Hillel’s Associate Director for Jewish Life and Learning, is a Chicago native who received rabbinical ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. She loves to teach Torah and has done so with people of all kinds - from toddlers to seniors, at synagogues and summer camps, on Israel trips, in interfaith dialogue groups, and on college campuses. Her interest in stories, how we tell them, and what we learn from hearing and telling them is what led her to the rabbinate. A deep investment in innovation and pluralism lead her to Hillel. During rabbinical school she worked at the Hillels at the University of Delaware and at Temple University, as well as at Hillel’s Schusterman International Center. She also went on an AJWS delegation to Ghana, worked as a chaplain in urban medical clinics in Chicago, taught adult education classes, and lead teen trips to Israel. She holds a bachelors in Jewish and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St Louis and a masters in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education from DePaul University in Chicago. In her spare time (ha!) she likes to ride her bicycle, read, do New York Times crossword puzzles, and make up band names.

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