The 400th yahrtzeit of Prague’s most famous rabbi, Judah Loew ben Bezalel, is coming up this summer, and apparently, he’s famous for ALL the wrong reasons.
See, Rav Loew (aka the Maharal of Prague) is the magic man who supposedly raised a silent creature from the dust using a secret word of God with the intention to protect 16th-century Jews in the Prague ghetto from pissed-off misinformed Christians around Eastertime. The legend of the Golem says the good monster did as he was told, but then went apesh*t and destroyed the whole village, so the rabbi removed the ineffable Name and let the soulless thing dissolve back to the dirt from whence it came. Rabbi Loew has been associated with the creation of this meshuggeneh clay servant ever since, which has raised him to folklore status even among Prague’s non-Jews.
But four centuries later, Czech organizers want the commemoration of one of Judaism’s deepest and most prolific thinkers to reflect more than fodder for a Frankenstein movie.
I can totally dig it – nobody wants this brilliant, pious leader reduced to a comic book character. But to reject Rav Loew’s connection to one of the few Jewish legends that’s made it out of the shtetl (well, besides the Biblical ones, anyway) seems like plain old bad marketing. After all, even just the last few years, the Golem’s inspired a best-selling novel (by a Jew, about Jews) and an extremely kickass punk klezmer band. Would it be so wrong to appeal to the the younger, less-religious folk? IMHO, the organizers are missing a real opportunity to educate those who might not buy a ticket to talk about Talmudic law. I’ve already thought of an ad campaign slogan: “Come for the monster, stay for the rabbi.”
I’m just sayin’. JTA reports the full story.