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Have you too seen the vanished giant?


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Have you ever stepped into a broom cupboard and seen the locked burial place of a vanished giant? This is what happened to me in the Josefov Quarter in Prague in 2003.

The legend goes that more than five hundred years ago, Prague’s chief Rabi Jehud Löwa ben Bezalel created a deaf-mute man from the mud of the Vlatava riverbank to protect its Jewish citizens from libels. 16th century Prague Jews were imprisoned and murdered for allegedly slurping Christian blood on Passover, poisoning well water, and abducting Christian infants. Jewish children were kidnapped to be converted. Rabbi Loeb’s awesomely powerful giant – more muscular than Schwarzenegger – smashed jail doors and penetrated castles in order to liberate imprisoned Jews and intimidate their oppressors. The Golem befuddled princes and villagers with his hit-and-vanishing attacks for forty-three years until his creator reversed him to mud in 1589. And his burial place? A mystery...

Some say near the Žižkov Television Tower whilst others insist that he sprawls under yellowed prayer shawls and disintegrating prayer books in an attic in Rabbi Loew’s Staronová synagoga. In 1943, a German agent – the legend continues – forced his way into the attic of the synagogue in order to see the Golem’s remains and never emerged. It was said that Rabbi Loew had cursed invaders of the attic with death.

I had seen a statue of Rabbi Loew outside Praha City Hall. I had bought green plastic golems for 19 czk from vendors and had visited the Altenue synagogue once before. Now I wanted to be more daring. I wanted to see the remains of the golem himself. So one grey morning, I waited outside the synagogue for the warden to open the door.

Mr. Shamaiah Hillel’s family had guarded the synagogue for three generations. They were the only ones – so Mr. Hillel told me – who knew the whereabouts of the Golem and possessed the key to this attic. He offered to show me. Mr. Hillel led me to a broom cupboard, unlocked the door and, bending our heads, he led me up three eroded steps to a door that blocked further passage. The golem – he said – lay heaped up on the floor behind this door. It was a simple whitewashed peeling door. I do not remember whether or not it was padlocked. It stood from floor to low ceiling barring our way. I looked at it, turned and went down the steps. I had come as far as possible. My quest was over.

Had anyone entered that attic and would anyone do so? And more to the point, what would they see behind that door: a heap of earth or nothingness? And would they emerge to tell the tale?
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Author: Leah Zitter

Category: Expat Life Viewed: 1943 times
Username: dlzit Listing Ref: 890191205
Date of Listing: 14 February 2014, 12:22:44

Have you too seen the vanished giant?


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