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December 19, 2014 2:52 pm

The Jew in Harry Potter and What it Means About Religion in the Beloved Book Series

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avatar by Alina Dain Sharon / JNS.org

The author of the Harry Potter book series J.K. Rowling. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Hey, Jewish Harry Potter fans! In case you haven’t yet heard, J.K. Rowling has just announced that there is a Jewish character in the beloved magical series. His name is Anthony Goldstein and he is a member of the Ravenclaw house.

The Jewish wizard was revealed in a Twitter question-and-answer session on Tuesday, when Ben Roffman tweeted that his wife had said that there were no Jews at Hogwarts, which means she is the only who could be “magical” in his family. But J.K. Rowling quickly responded with the tweet, “Anthony Goldstein, Ravenclaw, Jewish wizard.”

The Harry Potter Wiki page further explains that the Goldstein character was a classmate of Harry Potter and had fought in Dumbledore’s Army. Ironically, Rowling later also tweeted that the only people she “never imagined there are Wiccans.”

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Having grown up with this book series since the first novel was released, I’ve always wondered about the role of religion in the series. The practice of religion or the belief in God are not explicitly mentioned in the books, although there are multiple mentions of Christmas and Yultide parties, and Hogwarts goes on a Christmas break every year.

I do understand why Rowling chose not to delve into religion too deeply, given the magic-related content and the fact that the books, even as they are now, have actually been often banned by ultra-religious and conservative groups.

But, if magical people celebrate Christmas, then it’s only fair to wonder how their magic fits into their religious belief system. Maybe one day Rowling will feel comfortable with elaborating on the subject.

Meanwhile, in case wizards also celebrate Hanukkah, Chag Sameach from us muggles.

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