I think it was one of my blog readers that recommended I check out “The Morganville Vampires” young adult novels and I finally got around to doing it because the series was sooooo cheap on my Kindle. I barely made it through the first novel in the series because I had a hard time relating to the teenage characters but now I’m on sixth book right now. And by now, there have now been countless appearances by a Goldman family, an entire family of Jews (right down to the grandchildren) who was forcibly converted to vampirism!
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up…unless you’re author Rachel Caine who really DID make this all up.
Whenever I see Jews in pop culture, I feel two things wrestle each other in my heart. The first is an incredible sense of dread as I sit there waiting for the inevitable stereotypes (usually either the “dark” looks with kinky Jewfro hair and a big nose to boot or the neurotic, nebbishy tendencies). The second usually comes when I realize the representation is fair…a sense of pure joy! I feel the same thing when I see Latinos represented well in Hollywood or mainstream culture. It’s a feeling that one is no longer invisible to society at large, a joy at being made visible.
The Goldman family is introduced in the middle of a pretty bloody war between the vampires who have been living mostly peacefully in a little Texas town called Morganville. So far, there are no Latinos in this part of Texas but at least there are Jews (just the Goldmans). There are some African Americans, too, and even an Asian vampire. When we first meet the Goldmans, they refuse to fight on Shabbat during the war saying that they will only take up arms if they are directly attacked. The non-townie vampire, Mr. Bishop, who is leading the attack against the Morganville vampires, is frequently described as being an anti-Semite and it is suggested that this is an anachronistic throwback to the times he’s lived in because well, no one with any sense would be a anti-Semite today!
The Goldmans are mostly minor characters so we won’t get to hear too much about how they live their lives Jewishly in spite of being vampires. So far, all we know is that they are shomer Shabbos but as an Orthodox Jewish reader, I found myself asking all sorts of other questions and I wasn’t alone. When I posted about the Goldmans on my Facebook fan page, here are the responses I got:
Rachel Ann Anolick: ooook, now how did that work?
Hadassah Sabo Milner: hmm wonder what the halachic (Jewish legal) view is on drinking blood? isnt blood treif (not kosher)? or are they “vegetarians”? (only animal blood? Have you read the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series? I cannot get enough of her.
Rachel Ann Anolick: blood definitely is treif, from animals or humans. I guess if you need to eat it to not live?
Hadassah Sabo Milner: quite a conundrum, and can you drink blood on shabbat?
Rachel Ann Anolick: Hmmm, since it involves wounding a living being…ah the problems of a frum vampire. They never end do they?
Aliza Hausman: I’ve done Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris but haven’t checked out the Anita Black series. Also love the vampire series by MaryJanice Davidson.
Hadassah Sabo Milner: KoD (my husband) says I am obsessed with vampires. Laurell K Hamilton writes the Anita Blake series. Lots of erotica in there too, just so you know…
Rachel Ann Anolick: do you like horror in general? If so have you ever read Ligotti? And if you like Vampires did you try the Vampire podcast Underwood and Flinch?
Actually, I’ll read just about anything…except philosophy but there is a special place in my heart for horror, science fiction and fantasy, which like the English classics I read as a child, were able to take me far, far away from the nightmare of my childhood even if only to a place where others were struggling to survive.
Aliza Hausman: But the point is, Rachel that even after being turned into a vampire is that one can strive to be the best Jew they can be. 🙂 Even if it means becoming a “vegeterian” ala Twilight or getting all your blood from a blood bank….