Hakollel shel Hamerkava
The Secret Names of God
When he was thirty years old and ready to take over the synagogue Ruben's teacher handed him a scroll. It was a copy of a copy of a copy of an ancient scroll that was smuggled out of Judea after the destruction of the second temple. Written on that scroll was a fragment of Hebrew text and an instruction. Go to the site of the temple at sunrise on the fifth year after the people of Israel reclaim the holy land.
On the 14th of May 1953, five years to the day after Israel's declaration of independence Rubin visited the Wailing Wall where he met a crowd of his fellow rabbanim, kabbalists, and other occult scholars, each carried a scroll of ancient Hebrew. There were many duplicates of course but together the Rabbanim had the complete text. For all day and night they stayed up without sleep working to decode riddles formed of Torah lore, the excitement made old men feel like young boys in the yeshiva again.
Following clues hidden in references to biblical places and events the group began to uncover hidden caches of scrolls. Jewish lore hidden from the Romans. Many were destroyed by the ravages of time, when they were hidden no one realised just how long the diaspora would last. Most of the surviving scrolls were returned to their rightful place, museums. It was only the final cache hidden behind the most fiendish riddles, that the Rabbanim kept to themselves for in that cache was a tablet of solid gold inscribed with the names of god. Names that killed the first Rabbi who tried to speak one. Names that the Rabbanim knew must be kept safe.
The Diaspora Returns
The Jewish tradition is a scholarly one, in the two millennia since the Romans first took Judea a whole host of scholarly traditions, both mundane and mystical, had grown up within the Jewish community. Though barely a day old among Hakollel shel Hamerkava could be found members of many orders of oculists, as well as cells of hunters. Many more members were unknowingly friends with someone in one ancient Jewish mystic tradition or another or served as occult advisers to hunters protecting the Jewish community .
Most importantly there was an order of Kabbalists called The Sons of Loew who were formed by the legendary Judah Loew ben Bezalel: The Maharal of Prague. Rabbi Loew inherited one of the fragments protecting the caches and with his connections he was able to gather enough to find one of the hidden caches in the 16th century. He would regret this for the rest of his life, for his occult experiments to rebuild the fragmented mystic knowledge he found within went wrong and the Golem of Prague could not be controlled. The Sons of Loew have been trying to correct that mistake ever since. They came to the Wailing Wall in force and became a sizeable and influential faction within Hakollel.
Rumous of Hakollel's discovery spread from order to order, many found such knowledge irresistible and came to beseech membership. Knowledge kept secret for centuries was offered freely in excahnge. As the orders joined Hakollel shel Hamerkava became the place to be for Jewish mysticism. Whole brotherhoods began to merge; collaborating to peruse some common interest in philosophy, lore, or to promote some ideal on how the names of god could be best used.
Hakollel shel Hamerkava may be young, but it's foundations and lore are ancient indeed.
Welcome to my Household
As a show of good faith, and a shrewd political move, the Sons of Loew formally disbanded and it's members pledged themselves to the newly formed Hakollel. Simultaneously they began recruiting golem hunters and attempting to convince others that Shemot must be protected, but also studied and put to use. The Sons of course wished to use Shemot to hunt Golems, but their political group welcomed anyone who wished to use Shemot against other monsters or for uses unrelated to the vigil. Before long this group acquired the name The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel.
As various cells and small Compacts of Hunters heard about Shemot from their members and friends in Hakollel they quickly become the majority of the House of Judah Loew, eventually splitting to form their own faction. They name themselves the House of Judas Maccabee and remain in agreement that Shemot should be used for good. Together the Houses of Judas Maccabee and Judah Loew win Hakollel's agreement.
Many scholars, including members of both Houses, were concerned. They argued that they joined a scholarly organisation, not a monster hunting army. As the debate swung against them, The House of Judas Maccabee conceded the point gracefully and left to form their own organisation on the understanding that they would be able to send their Rabbanim to Hakollel to master Shemot. The name “The House of Judas Maccabee” is used for the newly formed group as well as for any member of Hakollel who shares their drive to protect the Jewish community, or humanity as a whole, from the predations of monsters.
While the two organisations were intended to be independent, the undeniable miracles created by Shemot turned the hunters into far more devout people. Those who could wield Shemot quickly rose to positions of authority and prestige. The House of Judas Maccabee became a de-facto outer circle of Hakollel with most cells in the House being a Shemot wielder’s personal hit squad.
After a wave of recruitment into both The House of Judah Loew ben Bezalel and The House of Judas Maccabee the number of independent Rabbanim and the membership of various orders had greatly diminished. Entire orders had been absorbed into Hakollel, some intentionally followed the Sons of Loew's example and others simply drifted into Hakollel. Of the orders and independents that remained most fell into one of two groups: The first was interested in helping their community but not in hunting monsters, this group chose to name themselves after one of history's greatest rabbi: Hilel the Elder. The second group was interested in studying and becoming closer to god, they were given the name The House of Israel ben Eliezer, a name they came to embrace.
Hakollel shel Hamerkava grew organically into an ad hoc structure but it works for them.
Sidebar: Brains and Brawn
Typically no one gets into Hakollel shel Hamerkava without dedicating their life to the study of Torah. Preferably they studied both Torah and Jewish mysticism. There's a lot of brains in Hakollel but for a group who's primary purpose is to defend the secret names of God, there's not that many people who know how to swing a crowbar at goyim trying to steal there secrets.
Since most members are Rabbis they typically have Status in the local community which they can use to recruit volunteers. In Israel most people have military training except, ironically, the ultra-orthodox where Hakollel's influence is strongest. Elsewhere formal combat training is rarer but prized where available. Such volunteers usually join The House of Judas Maccabee and can acquire up to Status 2, but they cannot learn Shemot without first dedicating themselves to study, which many do. Most of these volunteers see Shemot as proof that they are following God's will and are extreemly loyal to their Shemot wielder. It is actually harder for most members of Hakollel to recruit from the House of Judas Maccabee than the general population, most of the House are already loyal to their Rabbi.
Though few people ever master the skills to create a golem, even after years of study, the ability to command one is easily taught. A Golem is a four dot retainer, they can't function independently but can follow simple instructions. They are also devastating combatants, A Golem has Strength 7, Dexterity 2, Stamina 8 Size 6. Their unarmed attacks also count as damage 3 weapons. They also have Resolve 5 and Composure 5 to resist being hijacked by magic, but have no Willpower. Defensively they have Armour 3 from being made of solid clay and can gradually recover from any injury up to and including atomisation at a rate of one Bashing a minuet, one lethal an hour and one Aggravated damage every three hours. The word of god says they move, what right do bullets have to say otherwise?
A Golem can be destroyed. Each Golem has the word אמת (emet; truth) written on their forehead. A rocket to the head won't do much, the Golem is still bound by truth and so will reform, however destroying the letter א will create the word מת (met; dead) and so despite an impressive 14 health boxes, a single success on a called shot with a -5 penalty can kill a Golem outright.