top of page

what is a dybbuk?

In Jewish Folklore, a dybbuk is a wandering spirit that possesses the body of a living person. In early biblical and Talmudic accounts they are called "ruchim," which means "spirits" in Hebrew.​

A 1914 play by S. Ansky, titled The Dybbuk, tells the story of a young bride possessed by a dybbuk. It is considered a seminal play in the history of Jewish Theatre.

Footage from Der Dibuk​​, 1937

Hanna Rovina, from the 1937 Polish film, Der Dibuk​​

Hanna Rovina, from the 1937 Polish film, Der Dibuk​​

theatre dybbuk's hell prepared feat. Diana Tanaka and Jonathan CK Williams. photo by Taso Papadakis

In our 2019 production hell prepared: a ritual exorcism inspired by kabbalistic principles, performed within a dominant cultural context, the character Moshe defines a dybbuk with the following language:

"So, here is what a dybbuk is not.

It is not a demon

Nor is it a devil.

Nor an angel that has lost its holiness.

It is a ghost

A spirit

A now lifeless thing which invades a living body and clings to it.

It relies on this living being, this servant, to have any say in this world."

Diana Tanaka (Dybbuk, in shadow) and Jonathan C.K. Williams (Moshe), from hell prepared. Photo by Taso Papadakis.

bottom of page