October 12, 2009

Jews at Hogwarts?

While housecleaning recently, I found a letter from one of my cousins in England. She must have sent it a few years ago, when I told her I was a huge Harry Potter fan. LS

No one makes a big deal out of it, but there have always been Jewish kids at Hogwarts. Not many, and not any of the famous ones, but still there are students from the entire U.K. there and from some of the former colonies, so it shouldn't be a surprise that I attend.

A huge effort is made to keep the wizarding world secret, so only my immediate family knows. It hasn't been easy keeping that secret from the extended family who seem to know every single religious school in the world, who attends it and who has graduated from there. But I got a letter when I was almost eleven, just like every other muggle-born wizard in England. My parents in Golders Green assumed it was some advert and tossed it, but a few more identical letters arrived and they finally took a look. I was attending the local Akiba Day School and was intending to go the same Bais Rivka that all sisters and cousins and aunts had attended.

Haha. Now I know better. Hogwarts does not take NO for an answer. I never got to meet Headmaster Dumbledore. That would have been something! He spoke over sixty languages, including Hebrew and a good bit of Yiddish. Some of the Jewish alumni told me that he would astonish their families with his linguistic ability and that would soften them up for the Hogwarts pitch. Professor McGonagal doesn't have quite that ability, but she did win points with my mum when she said that faculty and housemates would be "mispocheh" while I am at school. That didn't impress my dad though. What kind of Jewish kid goes to a school called Hogwarts?

In the end, they relented, although I found out later that all muggle parents do. It's part of the process and Hogwarts headmasters and headmistresses have the recruiting and convincing game down pat, thanks to a bit of harmless magic.

However, I think my mum is the first muggle mother to ever inspect the Hogwarts kitchens. Professor Mc had to relent on that. My parents weren't going to allow me to go anywhere that didn't provide kosher food. Believe it or not, she trained two house elves and made sure that my dishes and silver and cooking utensils are kept separately. Becher and Benscher even got special tea towel uniforms with the London Rabbinical Kashrus seal. I thought they'd complain about all the extra trouble but they are very proud of their special status.

Hogwarts: A History mentions a bit of Jewish history at Hogwarts. All the Jewish students there have been muggle-born, and they have all been in Ravenclaw House. In the whole recorded history of Hogwarts, there has only been one Jewish student on the Quidditch team, but lots of notable Gobstones players.

So that's it. I guess everything thinks that English boarding schools are totally goyishe, but I just want to put a word in that the most famous one isn't, completely.


JFS in IL said...

Could this be shared at Mugglenet? It is very well written (well, of course it is also true! ;-)

runciblespn said...

Sure, as long as you don't use Sora's last name. Her attendance at Hogwarts is still on the downlow!

Lynne Arons said...

Love this! HP is the theme of Kallah this year.
would i be able to share it? If we keep her name a secret, of course!