An Open Letter to Dumbledore and the Hogwarts Community:
Hogwarts needs a Hillel House. A Hillel House would provide space for Jewish witches and wizards to engage with, study, and advance their relationship with magical Judaism. It would serve as a place of academic and spiritual discourse for magical Jews to explore their faith and understand how to worship God in a society where we can materialize or transform whatever we want, traverse thousands of miles in an instant and make a jelly bean of any flavor. But above all, it would help fight the rampant anti-Semitism on this campus.
For too long, the school’s magical Jewish community has existed at a status of invisibility and marginalization. The placement of Care of Magical Creatures excursions on Saturday mornings makes it impossible for magical Jews to both keep Shabbat and learn outside of the classroom. Hogwarts’ Autumnal Feast always seems to be scheduled on Yom Kippur, a Jewish day of fasting. The school’s kosher options are few and far between, normally consisting of just swamp cabbage and pumpkin bread. Not to mention the “only available worship space” on Jewish Holidays just happens to be right next to the Womping Willow.
On top of these institutional obstacles, Jewish students seem to encounter another bias incident every day. In my Charms class, one girl keeps turning my yarmulke into a bat. And whenever I eat in the great hall, I have to sit next to the potion’s master or else students slip pork’s bane into my swamp cabbage.
The attacks are not just directed at me. One of our brightest young Jewish wizards, Herschel, can barely show his face in class. Every time he goes to Defense Against the Dark Arts, one or two jokesters turn his pais—or as the students so lovingly call them, “Jew curls,”—into gilly-worms. Do you know how many charms it takes to retransfigure gilly-worms? A lot of charms.
Our ability to practice our rituals has even come under fire. Last year’s Passover service was interrupted with a hail of dungbombs, the ark that holds our torah was filled with pixies, and this winter, our Hanukkah menorah’s candles were replaced with Shrieking Shirley fireworks purchased from Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Requests for an investigation were ignored.
We, the Jewish witches and wizards of Hogwarts, need refuge from these patterns of intolerance. We don’t need to be constantly harassed over the fact that a burning bush can be summoned by any competent third-year with a simple fire incantation. And we shouldn’t have to feel unsafe. One Jewish first-year loves quidditch and is a talented seeker, but is too afraid to continue playing on her house team after receiving anonymous threats that she would soon get a bludger launched at her “ugly Jew face” This cannot go on.
Once a student spat at me and said her patronus was a swastika. That’s not even an animal.
These incidents are not the cause of isolated bigots, but rather part of a widespread, toxic environment. That’s why we so desperately need a Hillel House. We have already found a Jewish house ghost, Mortally-Maimed Moishe, who is completely on-board. We have designed robes—blue and white—and we think we would name the house Hirschenbaum after Chaim Hirschenbaum, the first Jewish wizard to serve as secretary of owl postage in the ministry.
A Hogwarts Hillel would be a necessary source of refuge from the storm of anti-Semitism, but the storm itself must be stopped as well. Dumbledore, you cannot allow Hogwarts to continue to be a home for such vicious attacks and hatred. If the school does not make any steps towards progress and inclusivity, we will report the abuse to the ministry. We have powerful friends in Gringotts.
Brindlebarb is a 5th year Herbology Major