Legendary Prague

Chapter 4 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction

Martina Lüdicke

Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the Maharal of Prague, was a significant philosopher and scholar of his time, though he probably never actually created a golem. The story about him and his soulless assistant was not ascribed to him until two hundred years after his death. Rabbi Loew lived in sixteenth-century Prague during the reign of Rudolf II, a patron of the arts and sciences with eclectic interests. Rudolf II moved his residence from Vienna to Prague and maintained close contact with astronomers, mathematicians, artisans, and painters, and he was particularly interested in Jewish mysticism. Evidence of this intellectual atmosphere is Rudolf’s Kunstkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, containing the most diverse collector’s items from all over the world.

The spirit of the age, inspired by magic and the occult, by alchemy and astronomy, was an ideal screen on which to project the invented legend of the golem of Prague, the setting most closely tied to the story of the golem. No golem creator has gained greater fame than Rabbi Loew. The myth of the Prague golem carries on to today: in the storefront windows with their souvenir figures, at mythical sites such as Rabbi Loew’s grave, or with the rumor that the remains of the golem are still located in an inaccessible attic room of the Old New Synagogue in Prague. The legend lives on.

Citation recommendation:

Martina Lüdicke (2016), Legendary Prague. Chapter 4 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM: Introduction.
URL: www.jmberlin.de/en/node/4698

Golem as action figure (detail)

Online Edition of the GOLEM Catalog: Table of Contents

The Golem in Berlin: Introduction by Peter Schäfer
Chapter 1
The Golem Lives On: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
My Light is Your Life: Text by Anna Dorothea Ludewig
Avatars: Text by Louisa Hall
The Secret of the Cyborgs: Text by Caspar Battegay
Chapter 2
Jewish Mysticism: Introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem Magic: Text by Martina Lüdicke
Golem, Language, Dada: Text by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 3
Transformation: Introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Jana Sterbak’s Golem: Objects as Sensations: Text by Rita Kersting
Crisálidas (Chrysalises): Text by Jorge Gil
Rituals: Text by Christopher Lyon
A Golem that Ended Well: Text by Emily D. Bilski
On the Golem: Text by David Musgrave
Louise Fishman’s Paint Golem: Text by Emily D. Bilski
Chapter 4
Current page: Legendary Prague: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem Variations: Text by Peter Schäfer
Rabbi Loew’s Well-Deserved Bath: Text by Harold Gabriel Weisz Carrington
Chapter 5
Horror and Magic: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
Golem and a Little Girl: Text by Helene Wecker
The Golem with a Group of Children Dancing: Text by Karin Harrasser
Bringing the Film Set To Life: Text by Anna-Carolin Augustin
Golem and Mirjam: Text by Cathy S. Gelbin
Chapter 6
Out of Control: Introduction by Emily D. Bilski
Golem—Man Awakened with Glowing Hammer: Text by Arno Pařík
Dangerous Symbols: Text by Charlotta Kotik
Be Careful What You Wish For: Text by Marc Estrin
Chapter 7
Doppelgänger: Introduction by Martina Lüdicke
From the Golem-Talmud: Text by Joshua Cohen
Kitaj’s Art Golem: Text by Tracy Bartley
The Golem as Techno-Imagination?: Text by Cosima Wagner
See also
GOLEM: 2016, online edition with selected texts of the exhibition catalog
GOLEM: 2016, complete printed edition of the exhibition catalog, in German
Golem. From Mysticism to Minecraft: Online Feature, 2016
GOLEM: Exhibition, 23 Sep 2016 to 29 Jan 2017

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