The Golem: Jewish Legend (book)

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Date: 1993

Region: North America

Subject: Religion

Medium: Literature


Artist: Beverly Brodsky McDermott

Confronting Bodies: Phyllis Hoyt, first-grade teacher

Dates of Action:1993

Location: Newburgh, New York

Description of Artwork: The vividly illustrated book, about sixteenth century persecution of Jews in Prague, tells the story of a rabbi who makes a monster out of clay to protect Jews in his village from gentiles who want to kill them. Expressionistic pictures show the monster destroying the mob.

The Incident: A first-teacher asked Newburgh School officials to ban an award-winning children's book about the persecution of Jews in sixteenth century Prague. Phyllis Hoyt filed a formal request to remove The Golem: A Jewish Legend, by Beverly Brodsky McDermott, from Newburgh city school libraries. She said the book contains strong language and threatening artwork that children might not understand. Schools Superintendent Phillip Leahy said he had no qualms about removing The Golem from the library. "It's my right to pull it off the shelf," he said. "That doesn't mean we're burning it or censoring it. Some things just aren't appropriate for children." School officials acknowledged, however, that in sixteen years there had been no reports of students being disturbed by the book. Hoyt noticed the book in June during an in-service course on children's literature. She objected, in particular, to a section that repeats the "blood libel" - the myth that Jews used the blood of Christian children to make matzo on Passover. She also objected to a passage in which the mob screams, "Kill the Jews!"

Results of Incident: The book was removed as of November 1993.

Source: Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association