The Golem is a well-known mythical creature in Jewish folklore, and is typically associated with European locales (especially Prague). But as I recently learned, the Golem is actually mentioned in Psalm 139, is briefly discussed in the Mishnah, and is considered to be a forerunner to the mischievous Ginger Bread Man. The Golem has been the subject of some movies, plays, music and more, and especially in a troubled society, fraught with anxiety, the Golem has a certain appeal.

I first encountered the Golem in the 1920 silent film made in Europe by Paul Wegener. I was a preteen watching the movie on Channel 13, a Public Broadcasting System station, and I found it haunting and fascinating. In the summer of 1984 I saw a theatrical production about the Golem that was staged in Manhattan's Central Park, as part of the Shakespeare in the Park summer series. That particular production I found to be lugubrious and annoying (a cousin of mine truly disliked it) but the character was intriguing. Then in the early 1990s I spent a few days in Prague, on vacation,, and I visited the Jewish Quarter of the city. The Golem was on display there, and stores sold Golem figurines a-plenty. 

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Thus, when I found out that the Brooklyn Jewish Art Gallery at Congregation Kol Israel was going to have a show devoted to all things Golem, I knew I wanted to participate. I work on a series of photographs in which I took pictures of the Golem from the 1920 movie, and altered the images by viewing them through a kaleidoscope. (Kind of a low-tech Photo Shop procedure, of which I'm fond.) I snapped several images, and finally winnowed down the set to three. 


One of my photographs was selected for the exhibition and I was very pleased for several reasons. First, I suppose I am better known for my work as a freelance writer than as a photographer, but I have loved photography since I was a little child. In high school  I took one and half years of classes in photography, and I have loved to do darkroom work (but I rarely do so now). Second, the Golem is such an interesting character but still gets interpreted in a variety of ways and styles. I was curious to see how other artists would depict it. Third, wanted to be part of a artistic group project, especially in my hometown of Brooklyn.

The opening night event was inspiring. After Shabbat ended I drove to the Prospect Heights neighborhood and hunted for a parking spot; I found a good location and walked over to the synagogue. It is an interesting place to stage an art show and performances; architecturally it has some similarities to tenement-style synagogues of the Lower East Side in Manhattan, but actually it has a slightly unusual front design and perhaps most unusual, it is next to an outdoor subway train line. Some might find this annoying, others so very urban, but hearing the periodic rattling by of the Franklin Avenue Shuttle train (outdoors, but below street level) is kind of cool to me.

The exhibition of artwork is spread about two floors, the sanctuary of the shul as well as the lower level. My photograph is grouped with a few other smaller works and looks very good. I noticed that my work was among the few photographic pieces; most of the works in the Golem show are paintings or drawings.

Opening night featured an introduction with most of the participating artists speaking briefly, as well as the organizers of the show and series of events. Artists come from New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and even as far as Slovenia. Women and men are participants. And to set things even more lively, the modern klezmer band Golem played their frenetic music. (I saw them once or twice before and my daughters, when they were very young, were enthralled by them.)

If you are in NYC and want to see the show or some events, they go through November. www.ckibrooklyn.org/events/ 
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