Stories of golems are widespread. Often there will be several different versions of a single legend, where the people concerned remain somewhat consistent but the details may vary greatly. Listed below are only a few of these legends.
One legend is of a Rabbi Elias, who shaped the form of a man from clay and inscribed the Hebrew word EMETH, or truth, on the forehead of the clay man, thus granting it life. The golem performed menial tasks, but as its life continued it grew stronger and larger. Elias felt threatened when the golem eventually became overwhelmingly large. Elias ordered the golem to lace it's shoe, causing the golem to bend down low enough for Elias to reach it's head. He destroyed the golem by erasing the first letter aleph from EMETH, making it the word for death, METH. Upon the golem's death, it reverted back to a gigantic pile of clay which toppled, crushing Elias beneath.
The most famous legend of golem creation centers around Rabbi Low ben Bezaleel, also referred to as the Maharal (1525-1609) in 16th century Prague. This story could be a rework of the earlier legend concerning the Rabbi Elias in Poland. There is some suggestion that this story was attributed to Rabbi Low in the 18th century.
Rabbi Low, with possible assistance from his son-in-law Rabbi Isaac ha-Kohen and disciple Rabbi Ya'aqov Sason ha-Levi, created a nine foot tall golem named Joseph from dust and clay. The one-eyed golem patrolled the city streets of Prague, possibly to defend its Jewish citizens. Rumors had abounded that part of Jewish practice involved the sacrifice of children, and a blood libel had been formed.
One Shabbat night, the golem began a rampage. Rabbi Low vanquished the golem by writing the name of God on paper and placing the paper within the golem's mouth. The remains were placed within the attic of the synagogue, the Alt Neu-schul, which can still be seen today.