Contributed by Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis

"horseleech." A blood-lusting monster. The earliest reference to a vampire appears in the Bible, where it is called an alukah.1 She has two daughters who continually cry, "Give, give." Jewish traditions about vampires vary over history. Sometimes they are regarded to be demonic spirits, other times they are described as a type of witch.

The best description appears in the Sefer Hasidim, where the creature is understood to be a living human being, but can shape-change into a wolf. It can fly (by releasing its long hair) and will eventually die if prevented from feeding on blood for a long enough time. Once dead, a vampire can be prevented from becoming a demon by being buried with its mouth stuffed with earth.

Article copyright © 2004 Geoffrey Dennis.