“Do Golems Dream of Electric Shuls?” Moral Responsibility of Technology with Rabbi-Cantor Michael McCloskey
In Jewish folklore, characters often create a Golem or clay humanoid imbued with protective power. Israeli professor of mysticism and folklorist Joseph Dan called the Golem “the most important twentieth-century contribution of Hebrew literature to world literature.”
By examining the role of the Golem in Hebrew literature, we will explore questions these texts raise about tthe moral responsibility of modern creators of technology, particularly of A.I. and robots, and whether such being have agency.
Additionally, what does each successive iteration of the motif reveal about human nature and the specific challenges of the era? Together, we will investigate the intertextuality of this marvelous Golem humanoid through the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, among the Medieval Pietists, in 16th century Prague, through retellings by Elie Wiesel, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Cynthia Ozick, Michael Chabon and Pete Hamill, through film, comics, and even Hebrew slang.