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Wednesday, October 14

The Golem and the Jinni + Kabbalah

How do you get from Bible stories to Halloween?  You've heard the story of Jacob's Ladder and Moses with the Burning Bush, but do you know the story of the Golem of Chelm?  Each of these events are evidence of the mystical events from the Tanakh...the basis for Kabbalah.  (This unit is not for younger children.)

Jewish mysticism, known as Kabbalah, began in the first century and was used to address the questions of God's existence, explaining how something beyond thought can still be felt and seen.  Throughout history, Kabbalah has been seen as controversial, and is reserved for only the most learned rabbinical pupils (students who study the Bible).

Kabbalah tries to explain the reasons behind the commandments as well as the cause of some events in the Torah.  For example, it attempts to show why a good God would permit evil and how a good and powerful God can exist beside the world's evil.  It is based on the Tree of Life, in which there are ten powers affecting each domain in the world.

In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated being that is created entirely from inanimate matter, such as clay.  It's a mud Frankenstein, if you will.  One well-known story says that a rabbi in 16th century Prague created a golem from the clay found on the banks of the Vltava River.  He brought it to life through rituals, and it was used to defend the Prague ghetto from anti-Semitic attacks and pogroms.

Some Orthodox Jews believe that this event actually occurred.  Legend says that the rabbi's body still lies in the synagogue's attic, but when it was renovated in the late 1800s, no evidence of this was found.  Nevertheless, the golem has been used to represent everything from war, despair, and isolation to community and hope.  It is one of the more mysterious elements of the Jewish faith...

For this unit, we are using The Golem and the Jinni as our spine read.

Access the complete unit study in the Jewish Holidays in Literature Bundle!

Each of the ten unit studies in this year-long bundle centers around a book for middle school level and includes videos, cooking projects, hands-on activities, writing assignments, and more.  There are also resources for younger children in eight of the ten units (not in *).

  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Solomon and the Trees + Tu B’Shevat unit
  • The Queen of Persia + Purim unit study (sample)
  • Devil’s Arithmetic + Passover unit study
  • The Secret Shofar of Barcelona + Rosh Hashana unit study
  • The Yom Kippur Shortstop + Yom Kippur unit study
  • The Mysterious Guests + Sukkot unit study
  • All-of-a-Kind Family Hannukah + Chanukah unit study
  • Broken Strings + Fiddler on the Roof + Persecution unit study*
  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit*

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