For observant Jews, The Day of Atonement has reasoning behind its history found in the pages of Leviticus, chapter 16. There are two animals, one is a bull who is to be sacrificed on the altar for the sins of the people, while the other one is exiled from the camp, and the community’s sins leaving with it. In mainline and evangelical communities, the idea of social sin has been lost, that and along with a lack of knowledge of the First Testament, the meaning of scapegoats are lost on us.
This goat in Jewish mythology and the writings of the Mishnah (scholars say starting around the 2nd Temple era), represents Azazel, (“a goat that departs”), a leader of angels that rebel much like some stories of satan. Here we have a religion where every year, the ritual life of a community is centered on the victim. The story of the victim told and told year after year decenters our stories of the victors of history so that the losers have a voice. May the words of the Pharisee and apostle Paul for us “to remember the poor” as he has come to our minds. May we remember the words of the rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth whom Christians call the Messiah, that there will be a day when the goats (who still participate in the scapegoating mechanism) will be separated from the sheep (those who obey God to fight against scapegoating) expose our violent ways.
For more sources concerning this view, please see S. Mark Heim’s Saved From Sacrifice: A Theology of the Cross