Adopt a Golem/et
The Fifth Minyan is coming!
No reserved or custom golem/et are being crafted, at this time.
The Rise of the Golem/et
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).
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.Marilyn Cooper, Moment Magazine
Each golem/et is has the Hebrew word for truth (אמת) inscribed on its chest, which is an inherited practice. The golem/et of the COVID-19 pandemic can be specifically identified by a special symbol on their body. Some have it on each arm, others on their back, belly, or other location. This symbol is a “sigil” a power sigil that represents Psalm 33, which has been used in Jewish history to provide spiritual protection from plague and epidemics. Inside each golem/et is a scroll with the last lines of Psalm 33 written Hebrew, with Feminine G!d/dess language as found in the Siddur haKohanot. This scroll is the heart of the golem/et and every golem/et has one. Some golem/et also have stones, crystals, clay, earth, herbs or other secret aspects hidden inside.
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.
Activating Your Golem/et
There are many ways to activate a golem/et, and you must determine the one that feels right to you. We recommend the following approach for golem/et, but you should follow your heart.
- Begin by washing your hands
- Light a candle or step out into the sunlight with your golem/et
- Think of something that brings you joy
- Holding your golem/et
- Give your golem/et a big hug and ask it if it wishes to be named by you or wishes to share its name with you. Also, ask its pronouns because it’s very hard to tell the gender of a golem/et.
- Once you receive the name of your golem/et or name it, anoint it with earth by rubbing a bit of salt, dirt, herbs, etc, on its chest or forehead.
- Wash your hands again and then sing, dance, and make harmless mischief with your golem/et.
Keep your golem/et somewhere you can see and interact with it regularly. Golem/et love to dance and love to be sung to. They also are gifted at wiping away tears and great listeners to ones joys and sorrows. And because they are 21st century beings, they LOVE a good selfie (#glittergolem or #cookiegolem, as appropriate).
Deactivating your golem/et
If or when the time comes to deactivate your golem/et there are a couple of options. Always begin by thanking your golem/et for its service. It may wish to wipe away your tears or hear you sing or dance with you, one last time. Be sure to honor this request.
If you are just temporarily deactivating your golem/et, simply place a sticker over the letter aleph (א) on its chest, transforming the word from truth (אמת) to dead (מת). Don’t panic — this will just put your golem/et to sleep until you remove the sticker and reawaken it.
If you are permanently de-activating your golem/et cover the letter aleph (א) on its chest, transforming the word from truth (אמת) to dead (מת). Say, “Return to your dust” (הדר לעפריך), [Sanhedrin 65.b] then clip away the stitches at the top of its head, to find the scroll inside. Remove the scroll, which is made of “seed paper,” bury it in the earth or place it in a compost bin. Then find a respectful place to put the shell of your golem/et.
Learn more about golem:
- Golem (Jewish Encyclopedia)
- Golem (Jewish Virtual Library)
- Golem (My Jewish Learning)
- Golem Legend (YIVO)
- Interpretation of the Golem (My Jewish Learning)
- Jewish Word | Golem (Moment Magazine)
- Brave New Golems (Jewish Review of Books)
- The Golem Legend and the Jews of Prague (NY Times)
- Stories We Tell: The Golem (ReformJudaism.org)
- Why Golems are Precious (The Guardian)
- The Magic of the Golem by Peter Schafer (Academia.edu)
- Talmud and the Turing Test (Harvard.edu)
Golem by other Artists
If you are an artist who is crafting golem in any form, or know an artist that should be listed – please let me know!