Bread and Golems

Six golem figures on a shelf

Souvenir shop in Prague, 2016; photo: Katharina Schmidt-Narischkin

They’re ubiquitous in Prague souvenir shops: clunky, mechanical golem figurines that owe their popularity to the 1951 film The Emperor and the Golem. The Czechoslovakian comedy classic, called Císařův pekař a pekařův císař in the original, was conceived by Martin Frič and Jiří Krejčík as a comedy of errors with political undertones. An irascible Emperor Rudolph II and his corrupt court are searching alternately for an elixir of youth and a recipe to turn lead into gold. But above all they want to find the legendary golem. This is the missing piece in the emperor’s cabinet of wonders and curiosities. On the search for the golem a brilliant switch takes place between Rudolf and his imperial baker, Matej. It’s an exchange from which both can profit in their different ways:  continue reading


Halftime for (the) GOLEM — What Do Our Visitors Have to Say?

A white room with drawings on the walls and a mirror in the center

View of a room of the exhibition GOLEM; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

Laura (23), Romania, architecture student

What is your impression of the exhibition?

The exhibition is fascinating and creepy at the same time. It makes you believe that the creatures displayed are real. Therefore, the atmosphere is very intense.

Which object or room has impressed you the most?

The room with the mirrors impressed me a lot. First, we were just playing around, which was fun. I could see myself and my friend in the mirror at the same time. But when I think of it now, it could be a metaphor for “looking beyond yourself.”

Do you know a sort of “Golem” from today?

As children, we have toys, dolls, and sometimes imaginary friends. We can talk to them and make them do what we want them to do.

Edgar (49), Germany, computer science

What was your impression of the exhibition?  continue reading


Achtung GOLEM!

Objekts on a table and a sign "Achtung Objekt"

Golem Costume for Death, Destruction, and Detroit II at the Schaubühne Berlin, 1987. Directed by Robert Wilson; Lender: The Jewish Museum, New York

The Golem is brought to life from inanimate material, as is the exhibition we are dedicating to him. Up until the opening on September 22, many days will be spent building, painting, felting, typesetting, printing, writing, cutting, hanging and pouring. For the celebratory opening, we have invited as our special guest, a robot who will greet the public.

Two humanoide robots greet each other

REEM and REEM C at a Meet-and-Greet © PAL Robotics, Barcelona

A piece of paper with handwriting in German and Hebrew

© Scholem Archives, The Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem, Israel

But up until that moment, there is still a lot to be done. All of the objects and works of art have already arrived in Berlin. For example, the smallest item (14.5 x 11 cm), which is roughly the size of a post-it. On this piece of paper, Gershom Scholem (1897–1982), the scholar of Jewish mysticism, noted the beginning of the so-called “Golem Recipe,” which he had discovered in a medieval manuscript during his research at Oxford.  continue reading