copyright © 2002 Lee Moyer

The Golem’s Tale

By Lee Moyer


[Light up slowly to reveal a man standing very still in the middle of a single spotlight. There is faint violin music in the air]


Do not be frightened.

I am very tall… and broad… and heavy, yes.

My appearance is… disquieting… to the people.

[pause to listen]

It would be difficult to find clothes to fit. My hair cannot be shorn. I am old fashioned. But I’m actually very nice. I am a very nice… man.

Yes, do I have an accent. But so do you you know. So do all of us.

My voice sounds a bit more German than yours, yes?

I was never supposed to sound so different from you you know. But I have knowledge of the old enemy, and his speech- Whether I wish to or not.

[pause to listen]

I’m sorry. I was born here you know.

Well, not born, no. Not precisely.

I was made.

I was… Manufactured. From the earth, the ground you stand upon.

The Germans used to say that Jews were only good for two things only. For lending money and for killing. Jews were not good at manufacture they said… They said many other things too. Many bitter things. Many… sad things. Many things that they would come to regret, those who lived- and those who fell.

I saw the Germans’ Thousand Year Reich you know, the whole thing- from the inside.


That is my little joke- Inside the Third Reich. I was inside it, yes.

It seemed like a thousand years I was inside. I was inside a vault- a Nazi vault. Until this last two years. Can you imagine this?

The lost Golem of Lodz - Rabbi Zeidel’s great hope- me. Locked by men inside a vault of same earth from which I am made.


I was made for one thing only- one thing- I was made to protect the people. I was designed to be the perfect defender.

Tireless; neither sleep nor food do I require.

Invulnerable; neither home nor hearth do I desire.

Immortal; neither light nor sound do I need.

I was made as well as the Rabbi Zeidel could make me.

I was to keep the land of men whole.

I was conscious for years… years, before I could speak.

I was incarnate, well… embodied. I was nearly alive when the men in black came. Only one half of one hour was the difference…

Where they took the Rabbi Zeidel, no one living knows. I saw him leave with them peacefully. He was a peaceful man, but his look to me was the look of death.

I was taken from the people before I could be completed. Before the life that was within me, within these limbs of rock, within this head of earth could be made manifest. Without the spark, the aleph, the breath of living, I could do… nothing.

When the rabbi was never to return, I was taken away also, stolen like his books, his robes, his Talmud. I was to them as an artefact- an artwork. Taken by the SS as a gift to appease their Fuhrer; they thought I am a mere sculpture, and they dragged me down the rough stones of Zielona Street. Onto a traincar, like so many of the people.

And just as the men in black were ignorant of the people-of those they drove on to death- they never knew that I was a stillborn Golem, a pillaged corpse, a stolen body that had never lived. They saw the carving here [indicates forehead]. They thought it was decoration- that its "primitive runic quality" might please their master in Burchesgarden.

But their Master could not be appeased- not by life, not by death.

I was locked away with other works, other bodies- Faberges, Duhrers, Da Vinci’s, Titians, Breugals (both the younger and the elder). I was secreted away amid tapestries from the Orient, pillaged furniture from Versailles. And though I could not so much as lift a single finger of this hand, I was conscious of it all. I stood there, in the golden cavern, unmoving. Unmoving as the people died. All of them dead. Some fell quickly… thousands in Auschwitz, hundreds in Bergen Belzen, murdered slowly; by work, by torture, by hunger. I saw it all- through darkened eyes of clay.

More, I saw it through the eyes of the people.

Because the people did not go away when they died, when they were slain, when they perished on the road, in the camps, in childbirth.

No. They did not go.

They came instead… to me.

[Spotlight dims, the faces of people are projected onto the Golem’s face. He continues to speak]

They told me their stories; of hopes unrealized, of pains now ended, of loves eternal.

They gave to me their loves; for friends, for music, for life.

They ceded to me their lives; their vitality, their desire, their unending strength.

Theirs was the aleph, the spark, the will that brought me slowly into this life of pain and of beauty. To life yes, but too late, and locked inside the earth. Inside a tomb of gilt. For 50 years.

In the stead of what might have been, instead of doing the sacred work, instead of giving this life for them- they have given their lives for me. I am the treasure vault of their lives- Unworthy as I am, unsuitable, inhuman, impassive in the face of their deaths. They gave all their lives… for me.


Now- What can I do for you?



"The Golem’s Tale" debuted February 8, 2002, performed by Lee Moyer.

Performed at No Shame Verona on April 12, 2003. Performed by Trent Westbrook.

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