Oct/Nov 2005 ´ Miscellaneous

A Few Words on the Golem Massacre

by Annie Levin

Since the recent, fantastic catastrophe in Williamsburg, much has been written on the local Hasidic community of Haarovite Jews. Their numbers having so recently included the infamous talmudical scholar whose name now strikes fear into the hearts of Brooklyn’s bohemian population. Nevertheless, for those who have not been following the deluge, I shall recap:

Come November, Congregation Binah Yechad will have stood on the corner of Eldman Avenue and 39th St. in Williamsburg for 50 years. Founded in 1954 by Holocaust survivors from the village of Kaunas in Estonia, its brownstone facade, covered in faded Hebrew lettering, fits snugly and unremarkably into its banal, urban surroundings. 90-year-old Rabbi Aron Ben Yovel, who reestablished his community of Haarovite Jews in the new world, continues to hold services despite his advanced old age. He lives with his four unmarried granddaughters in a two-bedroom apartment in the complex next to the synagogue. The community Yeshiva stands down the street in an ungainly white plastered brick building which hangs glumly over the passersby. The surrounding community of Haarovites live up and down Eldman Avenue to be close to Rabbi Yovel. They are a closed and largely impoverished sect who eat, sleep, work and pray within six blocks of the synagogue.

Issac Yacharet had lived among his fellow Haarovites all his life. As a child he attended Yeshiva. At 19 he was married to Rachael Iphraim, Rabbi Yovel’s grandniece. His days were taken up by long hours as a clerk in the Haarovite law offices of Goshen, Michnach and Eckhart. In the evenings and on weekends, in-between the countless spiritual obligations of the day, he retreated to the basement of the shul to study and discuss Torah and Talmud. Unlike many of his fellow Haarovites, Yacharet was no great Hebraic scholar. He did poorly in school and was not considered for rabbinical college. He was, nevertheless, devoted. He was first to arrive at morning minyan (prayer meeting) and Sabbath services, and afterwards would volunteer to do small chores for the Rabbi. I was told his scholarly arguments, though childish, were passionately given. And yet, despite his full and all-embracing spiritual life, one would be hard pressed to discover how such a man created a golem, a Frankenstein-like monster made out of clay, to act as scourge against the rising tide of young American hipsters.

No one knows how this solid and enthusiastic, if otherwise unremarkable man, came to so despise Williamsburg’s most recent inhabitants. Perhaps the noise from too many new wave punk parties invaded too many Friday night services. Perhaps too many hipsters stumbling home from clubs at seven in the morning crossed his path on his way to minyan. Perhaps he caught his daughters hiking up their skirts, drawing stripes on their stocking and stealing his suspenders. Not one of the Haarovites was able to give the authorities any information on Yacharet’s emotional stability prior to his disappearance and the unleashing of the golem. His drive off the deep end seems to have occurred when no one else was watching.

On the day of Yacharet’s disappearance, a week before the massacre, his behavior is known to have been routine: At 7:00 he breakfasted with his wife and daughters, at 7:30 he walked around the corner to the minyan for prayers, at 8:15 he went to work. At 12:00 Yacharet was seen on his lunch break, walking down Eldman Avenue towards the river. He bore an ancient leather satchel of books under one arm. That afternoon was the last time he was seen with all his wits and limbs about him.

Photographs and personal accounts of the May 31st Golem massacre have plastered our newspapers for weeks now. We have all seen the lank, pale bodies of young people torn to bits and strewn across Bedford Avenue in an apparently unending trail of broken limbs, entrails and gore-spattered pleather. We all know the sad story of Jessica Anne Feldman (born Newport, RI 1979, died Brooklyn, NY 2005) the beloved uptown receptionist and feminist performance artist, whose head was found on a pike outside ‘The Dive’ bar on Eldman Avenue and 29th St. We have seen the photographs of Ariana Jane Idlewild (Born Laurel, Maryland 1975, Died Brooklyn, NY 2005) up-and-coming midtown marketing consultant and digital media designer, whose decapitated foot was spotted floating down the East River (recognized by the name tattooed in Sanskrit around the blue, bloated ankle). Many heard the screams of Kieran James O’Brady (born Northampton, MA 1977, died Brooklyn, NY 2005) the bassist for indie rock band St. Ursula and the Derrida Da’s, who fainted outside the Bedford Starbucks at the sight of the massacre, only to awake hanging from a third story fire escape with both his legs ripped off. And of course the entire world watched the footage of Yacharet, torn apart like soft bread by his own creation, as gun shots and the pummeling spray of firemen’s hoses glanced off the towering, faceless abomination.

It seems there are several important questions yet to be raised with regards to the massacre. For instance, was Yacharet working alone? Was his gruesome miscreation merely the mystic-psychotic flotsam of a disturbed mind, or was it a planned attack? If so, who were the others involved? One might ask if the massacre was an isolated incident or only the first in a series of slayings. Could there be hidden cells of Talmudic scholars all over the city building their own monsters in preparation for future terrorist attacks on the young people of New York?

Those of us familiar with the story of Rabbi Loew of Prague know golems are extremely hard to command. Even the most adept cabbalists have been driven to death and madness in their construction. Rabbi Loew was the most learned Rabbi in Prague, and he was virtually destroyed by his own monster. Could Yacharet, a third rate scholar and Yeshiva dropout, have constructed the fiercest, most intelligent golem that has ever been? Other rampaging golems have been brought down by the attacked. And yet The Golem of Williamsburg remains at large, unscathed, enshrouded in the putrid depths of the East River, waiting even now to slaughter another day.

It is my studied opinion that Yacharet only had a small role in the creation of the Golem. It seems to me the skillful Rabbi Yovel is responsible for the massacre. And if, indeed, it was the Rabbi who perpetrated the horrendous slaughter of innocents, how many Hasidic religious leaders across the city are also preparing their own monsters? The Hasidim must, I believe, be planning to commit many more acts of violence pointed directly against our modern values and way of life. The Williamsburg Golem massacre may only have been the first in a series of catastrophes. These Hasidic rebels must be stopped before they become stronger. Within a year there must be an FBI file on every boy in side curls in New York City. For years we have assumed their Yeshivas and Rabbinical schools taught them Torah and Talmud to instruct them in the moral lessons of the universe. Now, however, we know better. I believe these sacred texts contain secret codes that allow the Hasidim to construct weapons of mass destruction. I call upon the authorities to search every Synagogue and Yeshiva in New York to confiscate any suspicious diagrams or reading materials. We must never forget that the Hasidim are dangerous. Our security will only be assured by the destruction of every copy of the Zohar in the state of New York. Only then will I rest easy knowing my children are sleeping safely in their converted riverside lofts.


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