because a lot of people dont seem to get this:
- golems are from jewish folklore. dont treat them like a generic fantasy creature, thats appropriative
- kabbalah is a specifically jewish religious tradition. dont practice it if youre not jewish and dont use kabbalah symbolism as generic occult stuff, thats appropriative
- for the record if it has hebrew on it and it doesnt have anything to do with judaism its probably appropriative
- dont wear a magen david if youre not jewish, its used as a symbol for judaism so wearing it if youre a gentile is appropriative
- while im at it heres a rundown of some terms you should know
- goy: hebrew and yiddish for non-jewish person, it literally translates as “nation.” the plural form is goyim. goy is not a slur.
- gentile: english for non-jewish person
- anti-semitism: you probably know what this means but i just want to point out that the word anti-semitism was NOT coined by jews but by a german anti-semite who wanted a more scientific-sounding alternative to “judenhass,” which literally translates to “jew-hatred” so please shut up about how arabs are also semites. we know.
- if you’re not jewish you should also avoid using the word “jew” since many jewish people are uncomfortable with it (though i personally am fine with it). use “jewish person” instead if youre a gentile
please reblog this if you’re not jewish, i almost never see gentiles acknowledging cultural appropriation of judaism and anti-semitism on tumblr, even among people who otherwise pay close attention to such issues
Okay, so… Some of this is really good. Some of it is sort of ridiculous.
"Western Culture" as generally understood is dominated by Christian culture which developed out of Jewish culture, and continues to this day to have a number of cultural norms rooted directly in traditional Jewish practice. And that’s why a lot of occultists study Kabbalah, because it is part of the heritage of their traditions. Similarly, that’s where the concept of golems got into our literature from. It’s not “appropriation”; it’s continued inclusion of a part of our cultural heritage in our culture.
And really, that’s why people mostly don’t acknowledge cultural appropriation of Judaism; because a recognizably-Jewish cultural practice is usually there, not because they went looking for something exotic to steal from, but because it was present in their culture already. It’s not as extreme as, say, accusing people of cultural appropriation for celebrating “Christmas” in the US without being Christian, but it’s the same basic category of thing; this is a legitimate part of the culture.
The Star of David is a more interesting question, because that’s a symbol which has had other historical uses, but I’d certainly concede that it’s at the very least tacky to wear it. I’m not sure about “cultural appropriation”, though, because simple geometric shapes are a little too generic. I don’t accuse non-Japanese people of cultural appropriation for having a circle. I’m not sure where I’d draw the line, but I’d probably try to find out what someone thought the symbol represented before making accusations.
EDIT: Hang on, someone pointed out:
Are you even aware that Hebrew is an actual language in use for daily activities by real people? Seriously, it is not appropriative for people to do business using their native language, even if it has nothing to do with Judaism. Or for people to learn the language so they can communicate with all the people whose native language is Hebrew. This isn’t like Church Latin, where there’s basically no remaining use outside of a religious context.
every fantasy creature came from someone’s folklore. :/
also, the high school i went to was 30% jewish (just a fluke of demographics, the lower/middle schools are in a largely jewish neighborhood, and most of those kids went on to the associated high school even though it was farther away) and none of those kids EVER used ‘jewish person’ in place of ‘jew’. they would say things like “the jews in the class are going to have a schedule conflict with that because of torah school.” it’s equivalent to ‘muslim’ or ‘christian’.
tumblr’s idea of ‘cultural appropriation’ is clueless and sometimes outright harmful. i don’t think exoticizing judaism is a particularly good idea. it’s foundational to western culture and should be acknowleged as such.
i’m not just talking in a historical sense, either. jewish culture is an essential component of american culture as a whole, and extremely influential on how americans see their country. not only is othering that culture obnoxious, it’s doomed. it’s shaped our national consciousness to an extent that you simply cannot extract the jewish influence from the american experience. and any hint that you might want to try to do so, honestly, smacks of anti-semitism far more than using golems in the same monster book as banshees and kelpies.
i feel like this tumblr trend of calling ‘cultural appropriation’ on what is actually a healthy cultural exchange really needs to stop. it others, it exoticizes, and it ignores the interconnectedness of human cultures. i do not like it, sam i am.
Goddamn I am tired of people harping on about jewish cultural appropriation! It’s bizarre and condescending and counterproductive, to take all the cool shit jews ever came up with and contributed to their countries, and like… stuff it back in a little box and dust your hands off and say ‘now you’re safe!’.
Like with colonized cultures I can understand that there’s a really different dynamic there, but jewish narrative tends to revolve around the thorny issues of assimilation and ostracism. Cutting jews back out of the fabric of the countries they’ve make their homes in is…. honestly, problematic. Jews historically do not have the luxury of isolationism, or some pure, untouched, indigenous culture like that was just theirs before the oppressors showed up. Like, the last time that was a thing we were all trotting around after goats and having hill wars and shit. I am not really big on that.
Golems do not come from some distant and pure jewtopia, they come from Poland and Prague and Barcelona and Warsaw and New York. Jews are not an isolate people if they’re not being isolated, they are active participants in and partakers of the countries they’re born to. So if golems are hands-off to the gentiles than so too are robots: a great deal of scifi as we know it rests on the works of young jewish americans. Also, superhero comics. Those stem pretty directly from jewish mythology and the jewish-american experience. You want to put caution tape around golems, you gotta take a good hard look at whether or not you get to read any more spiderman. But the ideas were still written down and retold to a larger audience, who added their own perspectives as christians or communists or atheists or muslims, and so on, and so forth.
Multiculturalism, especially in terms of american lore and media, is okay. You absolutely cannot have a culture in a vacuum, especially not in america, especially not as jewish americans. Sci-fi, fantasy, and modern mysticism draws from an absolutely huge base of peoples that all jammed together and riffed off one another in the course of living in a big multicultural society. How do you put back golems because that’s appropriation but not like, mermaids, or fairies, or hobbits? How do you sort them into neat little respectful boxes labeled ‘look but don’t touch’? You can’t, they’re all mixed up now. And that’s great.
Also, you can say ‘the jewish people’ but it’s fine to say ‘jews’ unless someone specifically cares. It’s like ‘blacks’. It’s whether or not you say it with contempt, not whether you use the word at all.
Everything that everyone above said, and also:
The only people I have ever seen attempting to speak Hebrew/tacking Hebrew onto things without understanding it have been Jews; specifically American Jews? Like obviously not everyone but there is definitely a very specific strain of Jew who finds themselves not very connected to their religion or their culture and so they.. overcompensate?? I distinctly remember it suddenly became popular for all of the girls in my Hebrew class to wear חי necklaces but I’m also well certain that none of them could read any Hebrew….
At any rate I.. mostly disagree with OP; golems and Kaballah and such may be Jewish in origin but I don’t think there’s any such thing as “generic occult stuff” or “generic fantasy creatures”.. everything comes from somewhere, you know? Basically just, be respectful?? Learn about the world and learn about other cultures because it’s cool and fun, and if you are going to depict these things then definitely learn about them, but please yes do make use of golems, be inclusive of dybbuks, fill your stories with behemoth and leviathan..!
And so I thought I would post a tiny bit about me/about this blog:
Hello I am Rel; my name is Rel and this is my personal blog. I’m 25 and I like to write and draw and I live with my parents and I work in an office.
This is my face:
I’m still sort of growing into it.
I like to cosplay and I like to make comics and I like to go to conventions and I like people who have interesting laughs.
On this blog I post:
Please feel free to talk to me, I am friendly; or at least, I perceive myself to be friendly.
Anyway hello and welcome and I hope you enjoy your Blogging Experience, and I hope that you have a good day in general and a nice life.
g gosh wow thank you very much!!
this is certainly an unexpected compliment, that i am very unprepared for, but still, thank you muchly!!