Their day begins at night, they show a certain aversion to the sign of the cross and they dress in black. Of course, I am talking about Jews.Of course not. He explains why, insightfully and entertainingly, before concluding, "Vampires are not Jews. Maybe we can allow one powerful, popular trend to be about someone else for a change?"
But add some invidious stereotypes — bloodsucking and a predatory nature, and you get vampires. So, are vampires Jewish?
I greatly enjoyed this essay, especially as a horror and folklore aficionado who enjoys tracing monster legends back to the real-life fears that spawned them, but find one line particularly troubling:
Judaism believes in death. Yes, it believes in immortal life, but death comes first. The entirety of Jewish ritual is crafted to emphasize that all creatures — all of them — ultimately, unequivocally die.The ENTIRETY of Jewish ritual? I get and agree with the belief in mortality, in fact I frequently accuse modern Judaism of being too death-centric, a religion stuck in mourning, but ALL ritual?
I sincerely hope not. I doubt that his claim is accurate; it's possible he spoke metaphorically there. Weddings, childbirth, b'nei mitzvot...all of these are life-based. Many of our holidays originate in death and tragedy, but the celebration is that we're still alive!
Granted, there is the mirror argument-by-definition; celebrating life must also celebrate death, even if indirectly, because death is the line that defines life. We celebrate at Hannukah and Purim because we survived; we are still alive. Weddings are celebrations precisely because our time together in this life is so brief. New children are welcomed because they add new sparks to the fire of life, providing heat and light against the cold and dark of death. From that perspective, yes, all of Jewish ritual is about death.
I always looked at it the other way around. As a child I did see Jewish ritual as death obsessed. There are laws about mourning? We are required to behave a certain way and grieve for a certain amount of time? How morbid! And the prayers in every service, reminding us of the dead? As I grew and studied, though, I realized that these laws actually encourage us to focus on the living. By strictly defining when, where, and how to mourn, it tells us the rest of our time is dedicated to life.
Someone important to you dies? Take the next 30 days, go feel really miserable. Trust me; you'll need it. After that, spend a few more months feeling slightly miserable, and the rest of the year feeling just generally sad. Then, each year after that, pick one day to go get really stinking sad about their absence. Then get up, dust yourself off, and get on with life.
The laws of mourning don't turn our focus to death; that happens naturally. The rituals turn us back towards life.
And at any rate, compared to most - if not all - the world's other major religions, our death and afterlife focus is so small as to be negligible.