I spent last week roaming around Harry Potter’s Wizarding World in Orlando, Florida with two of our kids over spring break. Let me just get this over with: I’m a heathen muggle. For the non-Potterheads what that means is that not only did I stop reading the series after the second book, but I caught up with Harry’s life on Wikipedia. Don’t hate me. Also I didn’t see a single movie and I don’t even remember the name of the second book.
But I do know what a muggle is. It’s anyone who’s not a witch or wizard.
The whole time we were there we were surrounded by believers. Kids in the Florida heat walking around in long black cloaks. Insider terms like “Gryffindor” and “Knight Bus.” People walking around waving wands at random storefronts. It kind of reminded me of… the Jewish people.
I know that everyone sees their own cause in the Potter series. That’s a testament to JK Rowling’s genius. But hear me out.
Harry Potter is basically a misunderstood boy who belongs to a chosen nation with a unique purpose. He’s come from a long history of discrimination and abuse. And he doesn’t even know the extent of his own power.
He needs to be taken under the wing of wise and caring scholars who will teach him his own potential and the rules of the game. He needs to understand that his special powers are not a liability or weird but an honor. He comes to know that with privilege comes responsibility.
As Jews we often have a sense of otherness. Understandably, that sometimes makes us feel proud, but often uncomfortable. We all have wanted to just blend in. But we are essentially different. We have a Jewish soul which is historically compassionate, philanthropic, and impossibly stubborn. There’s no use pretending you’re a muggle when you’re not. Why would you want to?
I too walk around in the summer heat in long sleeves. When I come out of the restroom in a public space I whisper the prayer to God thanking him for all my organs functioning properly. I too have insider terms from my rich education blending Hebrew, Yiddish, and Talmudic Aramaic. Yes, I’m weird. Weird and proud. I’m an HP (higher power) fan in a muggle world.
Dumbledore said it best: “It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
So I will use my Jewish chutzpah to love my Judaism unapologetically and uncompromisingly. I will channel my stubborn streak to be my best self. I will wave my magic wand, in all its phoenix feather glory, and live my true me.