Jewish Monstrosity

For those who may have come to this post via a search engine or link on a website or blog expecting to find something anti-Semitic you'll be disappointed. Instead, I want to draw the reader's attention to the recent discussion of various monsters from Jewish folklore, religion, and myth. In the West we tend to be more familiar with monsters from Europe and their American derivatives, as well as our own unique monstrous creations. With the popularity of J-horror we also have a growing awareness of Japanese culture's contribution to human conceptions of monsters. But it is worth noting that every culture has its unique monsters.

Patheos, a website exploring various facets of religion, recently featured an article by Jay Michaelson, a Ph.D. candidate in Jewish thought at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, titled "Demons, Dybbuks, Ghosts, and Golems." The article provides an introduction to Jewish monsters from the Kabbalah, the Talmud, and folklore, including the female "demonic personality" of Lilith, the dybbuk and the phenomenon of possession with one soul connected to another (as depicted in The Unborn [2009]), the ibbur which is a possessing entity similar to the dybbuk, and the golem (most famously depicted in the expressionist film The Golem [1920]). For those interested in a brief introduction to cross-cultural considerations related to the monstrous this article is worth a read.

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There are 2 Comments to "Jewish Monstrosity"

  • Carl Rosenberg says:

    There are at least two good anthologies on this theme: Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural (selected and retold by Howard Schwartz) and Yenne Velt: The Great Works of Jewish Fantasy and Occult (edited byJoachim Neugroschel). The first of these books especially is a good place to start exploring this world.

  • Carl, thank you very much for your bibliographical recommendations on this topic.

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