The Rise of The Golem/et
The story of how I fell in love with golem during 2020
Through out Jewish history, golem have been created in times of need to protect the Jewish people and their allies.
In his dream, he received a reply from heaven in ten words, telling him to create a golem out of clay, who would protect the Jews against those who wanted to destroy them. The Maharal was convinced that the secret of how to bring such a creature to life could be found in those ten words. And at last he found it.
from The Golem of Prague, as found in Tree of Souls by Howard Schwartz
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, something new happened. Golem/et began to arise en mass to protect not only the Jewish people, but also all in need and all the world (Yisrael v’Yishmael v’al kol yoshvei tevel).
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Unlike the golem of the past, these were not made from clay but rather from felt or glitter. They were soft, huggable, and quite fabulous. The first was named Good Goshy Golem, and looked a bit like a gingerbread cookie. This golem/et taught their cræftress that the people needed her skills, and asked her to cræft minyans of golem/et to provide one for any and all who need one. Goshy also taught their cræftress the mystery of Glitter Golem, who protect the people through sparkles, joy, laughter, dancing, and mirthful mischief. These were not the golem of old, but a new chapter in the myth — the golem/et.
The golem is a highly mutable metaphor with seemingly limitless symbolism. It can be a victim or villain, Jew or non-Jew, man or woman—or sometimes both. Over the centuries it has been used to connote war, community, isolation, hope, and despair.
Golem/et protect by helping us defeat despair by bringing joy, hope, connection to community, and generosity of spirit.
If you are lucky enough to adopt a golem/et, it is a great responsibility. One does not need to be Jewish to adopt a golem/et, but one does need to respect that this a creature born from Jewish wisdom and teachings. Think in terms of cultural appropriate. How do you respectfully engage and embrace the teachings of any culture, without crossing into cultural appropriation?
Rava says: If the righteous wish to do so, they can create a world…Indeed, Rava created a man, a golem, using forces of sanctity.
Talmud, Sanhedrin 65.b
Why golem/et instead of just golem?
Hebrew is a gendered language, and so “golem” indicates that this is a male creature. As these golem are non-binary, and may choose names that are considered male, female, or neutral-gendered, they are a new kind of being — a golem/et. Some golem/et may prefer she/her/hers and choose names that are often considered male, and vice versa. When it doubt, it is always considered polite to ask your golem/et its pronouns after activation. Be sure to tell your golem/et your name and pronouns, too.