Summers, Danielle. “Kissing the Golem”, Dark Hollows Press, 2014.
Interracial and Interfaith
I must say that I approached this short story with trepidation. Having grown up in the South as a double minority, Jewish and gay, I know what I had to deal with. Danielle Summers adds another dimension to that by adding race. This brings to the total of three minorities in one couple—Jewish, black and gay and we might add that the author lives in the Midwest and that could add another dimension. When the author asked me to review this I was about to decline but not for any of the above reasons. Rather, I really do not review short stories and the only ebooks I review are those by authors I know and whose writings are only available electronically. But then I saw that this story is about Judaism so I could not say know although I decided that I would not read it until after the current holidays so that my Jewish bias would not affect the review. Well, here I am with one holiday down and two more to go and I decided I need the read this story now. What I learned immediately is that biracial, interfaith couples have the same issues that all of us have but they tend to magnify them more. Many interfaith couples that I know use that as an excuse for sometimes not getting alone and I usually find this humorous since neither of the two in the couple pay any attention whatsoever to faith and it really is a non issue.
With me, the opposite is true and I usually find myself to a Jewish man rather than a gay man when someone asks me who I am. We all deal with this in our own ways.
Here we meet Jacob Edelman and Marcus Hampton, an interracial interfaith couple. They fight about the usual issues– coming out, monogamy and marriage. And so their lives went—but they did not fight all the time just when something came up. This changed when they met the golem who has been the protector of Jacob’s family for years and years. For those of you who do not know what a golem is, let me explain. The most famous Golem is the Golem of Prague who was a man made of clay but had the ability to seem to be human. Wikipedia says, “In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated anthropomorphic being, magically created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material (usually out of stone and clay) in Psalms and medieval writing. The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late-16th-century rabbi of Prague. There are many tales differing on how the golem was brought to life and afterwards controlled”. The key word here is folklore so we must then consider a golem to be paranormal.
What I do not know is the role that Judaism plays in the life of the writer but it plays an important part in this story. Jacob is from a Conservative Jewish family and he gets pressured to find a wife and settle down. Once while at a family party, his uncle Saul tells him about the family golem that has been a protector of the family for generations. Uncle Saul says that the golem likes men “like Jacob” and you might have to think about that for a while. Jacob ignores the story for the most part and as he and his boyfriend, Marcus, leave the party they are attacked by gay bashers. Even though he is a skeptic, Jacob prays and calls for the family golem. Sure enough, the golem comes and saves them.
Judaism also plays an absolutely critical part to the storyline of ‘Kissing the Golem.’ “One half of the couple in the story, Jacob Edelman, is from a conservative Jewish household,” Explains Danielle. “He’s getting a lot of pressure from his family to find a ‘nice girl.’”
“At a family party, his Great Uncle Saul tells him that the family has a Golem who protects them and, in particular, likes men like them. Jacob is very skeptical, but after the party, gay bashers attack Jacob and his African-American boyfriend, Marcus Hampton, and Jacob, despite his skepticism, says a prayer and calls on the Golem. The Golem does appear and does save them.” Now I am not sure what to make of this other than that it was an interesting read but I do not have any faith in either the paranormal or the supernatural. I wonder that the moral here is when in trouble, call for a golem or is it that each of us has some golem inside of us. We just need to call on it for help.
This is a fun read and if it is to be regarded as more than that we will just have to wait and see.