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THE GOLEM by Barbara Rogasky


adapted by Barbara Rogasky & illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1996
ISBN: 0-8234-0964-3
Publisher: Holiday House

The Golem walks the streets again, in the crafty conjuring of Rogasky (Smoke and Ashes, 1988) and the evocative illustrations of Hyman. The novel, for those expecting a fairy tale, packs plenty of dramatic punch: Rogasky spares none of the blood or violence the Golem wrought in the defense of the Jews and while the stories may be metaphorical, she brackets them against the real politics and living conditions of Jews in 16th-century Prague. According to legend, Rabbi Judah Loew, a wise and loving man, created the Golem to protect his neighbors from the dangers of religious prosecution and the bloodshed of pogroms. The Golem proved his worth, speechlessly warning the Jews not to eat poisoned matzoh on the eve of Passover and dragging wrongdoers to the police station. Eventually, his actions helped force the royal decree that made the blood libel against the Jews illegal. Rogasky's focus on such crimes as the blood libel, which claimed that Jews spilled human blood as part of their worship, lays bare the irrationality and danger of prejudice; however, she offers readers no healing balm that might lead to increased tolerance (save, perhaps, for the cardinal, a friend of the rabbi despite their religious differences, and one of the book's few good Christians). The art- -full-page and spot illustrations in full color--lends not only a sense of place and excitement, but mythic grandeur as well. (Folklore. 8+)