After nearly 2,000 years, goats have returned to the Yom Kippur service.
Back when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the High Priest would cast a lot to choose between two goats. One would be slaughtered as a sacrifice. The other would be sent away to the wilderness — the original scapegoat.
Since the destruction of the Temple, the goats have appeared only on the pages of the liturgy, where, as part of the traditional Yom Kippur service, the ritual is recalled and recited —
but not re-enacted.
Now, the Wall Street Journal reports, Rabbi Lori Shapiro, founder of the Open Temple in Venice Beach, California, has brought goats back to the High Holy Day observance. This time, though, no animals are harmed or misplaced in the making of the atonement ritual.
Yep, it’s Yom Kippur goat yoga.
Goat yoga, which is described by advocates as “the peanut butter and jelly of dream life combinations,” brings adorable ruminants to humans assuming awkward poses prescribed by traditional practice.
At the Open Temple, the posture is that of prostration, a piece of the Yom Kippur Temple ritual that carried over to the synagogue observance of the ancient fast day. Last year, 50 of Rabbi Shapiro’s congregants filled a yoga studio. As they fell on their faces during the service, goats walked on their backs.
“It’s about making Judaism relevant again,” Rabbi Shapiro told the Wall Street Journal.