I read this story about seven years ago for a college class, and while I remember most of the plot, I cannot recall the title or author.

In this story, there is a colony of orthodox Jews and one of conservative/reform Jews, along with the native population. There is a ghost floating around who is giving the native alien population problems (I think the title is a reference to this? It might be the word for a malignant ghost in Yiddish?). At the end, the aliens want to convert to Judaism; the orthodox say no, but the conservatives/reform welcomes them in. I think the narrator's kid was getting having their mitzvah with some alien kids.

  • 1
    Since it was for a college class, is it possible that the short story was actually written way before you read it?
    – Jenayah
    Sep 28, 2018 at 23:11
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    goodreads.com/book/show/892303.Wandering_Stars - Possibly one of these?
    – Valorum
    Sep 28, 2018 at 23:11
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    I read that sometime in the last year. Can't quite recall the context, though. Sep 28, 2018 at 23:52
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    It is! The dybbuk of mazel tov IV, thank you.
    – linballina
    Sep 29, 2018 at 0:45
  • @linballina You should post that as an answer, then accept it.
    – Laurel
    Sep 29, 2018 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


linballina, feel free to crib some or all of this for your answer, but I want it present for posterity's sake. This is "The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV" by Robert Silverberg

Here is text from a review:

The planet known as New Israel, or Mazel Tov IV, was colonized by two groups of Jews (reformed and Hasidic) fleeing certain destruction on Earth. They coexist with the centaur-like natives peacefully for many years until something unexplainable happens: the spirit of a dead Jew appears in the body of a native, much like the dybbuk of Jewish folklore. The natives are not terribly surprised—this sort of thing happens to them from time to time—but their exorcism ceremony doesn't work this time. The Hasidim come to the rescue, however, and the ceremony is so successful that the natives want to convert. One of Silverberg's religious-themed stories, this one quite amusing, though not critical or condescending to any parties concerned. Also note that no effort is made to explain the possession scientifically.

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