Vampires in Jewish Folklore?

Written by Jessica Moreno

Illustrated by Natalie Friedman

According to Dictionary.com vampires are widely thought of as “a preternatural being, commonly believed to be a reanimated corpse, that is said to suck the blood of sleeping persons at night.” Though it is common for vampires to be represented by a male figure, there is a woman in Jewish folklore that proves there is room for females. This figure is Lilith.

Lilith was the first wife of Adam, before Eve was created and came into the picture. Adam  didn’t treat her as his equal, insisting Lilith “lie beneath him.” G-d created both Adam and Lilith from the same earth, and Adam was frustrated by this. He let his ego get in the way. And Lilith didn’t care for this. According to an article titled “Lilith: the Mother of All Vampires” written by Jes Greene, Lilith “declared war against mankind, promising to murder children, torment men and destroy women’s hopes for families.”

Though history portrays Lilith as an “evil spirit” or even a witch in medieval demonology, she also shares the qualities of a vampire. Greene vocalizes that though Lilith’s goal was to “seduce men in the night, steal their semen and produce demon spawn… she would also sometimes suck their blood to make herself stronger.” She shares some aspects of Dracula, who would suck the blood out of young and strong adults, such as Lucy Westenra, a character in the novel Dracula. As a vampire, Lilith would run off into the night, steal children and feed on them. In the Jewish Folklore, according to Jes Greene, Lilith sucked the blood from young men and stole babies in the middle of the night and devoured them, which made her into an “object of fear and loathing.”

In Jewish folklore Lilith is defined as a demoness, yet there is much more to her. In another article, titled “The Goddess Lilith – Reclaiming Women’s Power and Survival,” Kimberly Moore claims that she is a power symbol in modern day society. “She is all women who have been subjugated, humiliated, and cast out from male-defined society.  Her rage is the rage of women who have realized that our natural women’s sexuality has been made dirty by men who fear the power of it and the power of free women.” What Moore is suggesting is that at one point Lilith was put down by a misogynist male and told that her natural sexuality made her into a “tramp.” She releases the rage women hold onto when they’re subjugated, because women shouldn’t be controlled by a man’s wrath. Women should be free to embrace their sexuality, not hide it.

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