On Purim, a Jewish holiday commemorating Ester and the rescue of the Jews in Babylon, people often recount the story of Ester, by reading it, reenacting it, or telling it. In many cases, performers get creative, telling the story with a theme or adding jokes. This particular Purim story was provided by Michelle Khazaryan, 19, a student at USC. Michelle is a self-identified Jew, and she performed this monologue in front of a group in our apartment on Purim. She learned this particular version of the story from the youth rabbi at her synagogue.
Hi! I’m Harry Potter and I am going to tell you all about the secret meaning behind all my adventures. Those of you who have been reading about me no doubt have noticed that there is a deeper story going on that has yet to be told. Today, I am going to reveal all. All the wizards out there already know, but we may have to lay everything out for the muggles among us!
Let’s see if you can guess my secret. My parents are dead, I was raised by family, my true identity was kept secret. I went to live in an old castle where someone with great power protected me and watched over me. My arch enemy is: He Who Must Not Be Named….(boo, hiss!) Sound familiar to anyone? There were those who felt sorry for me, pitied me even. Every time I passed they would whisper, it must be ‘ard to be ‘arry. Poor ‘im, poor ‘im. But I was proud of who I was and what I did. I just did what I knew was right. In the end, everyone thought I was a hero. So I even got my own holiday—Poor ‘im!
Yes it is true. I must confess to you in all sincerity that my real name is not Harry Potter; it is actually Herschel Pottransky and I am a Jew. All of us wizards are Jewish. But my gruesome family who raised me, the Durslesteins, were embarrassed to be different from all of their neighbors. They assimilated and forgot who they were. They stopped being Jewish and they hoped they could prevent me from knowing all about my rich heritage too. They even changed my name in order to hide my true identity. But their evil plan couldn’t work for ever.
When I was eleven, the most exciting thing to ever happen to me took place. I received an air-mail letter. And when I say air-mail, I mean air-mail. This letter came by bird. Some say that it was an owl, but actually it was a Segal, a very Jewish bird, what else? I was invited to go to cheder and attend the most prestigious and famous of Jewish institutions of higher learning: ChazerSchwartz Academy of Jewish Wizards. Where all the students were geniuses, at least, according to their mothers. Naturally, it was time for me to start preparing for my Bar Mitzvah. To do it in only 2 years, I really had to be a wizard to master all those strange Hebrew incantations and the deepest secrets of the Jewish people. I was ready for the challenge. I knew that it was my destiny. Besides where else could I go to play that amazing sport, Quidditch, on my trusty Fire Bolt and where the greatest grand prize was a Quiddish Qup! [holds cup up for all to see]
I went on to discover that I was a Torah Wizard. Those who really follow my career will understand me when I say that I am truly a “seeker” at heart. What I didn’t count on was that I would have to struggle mightily to foil the evil plot of the dastardly He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, who was out to destroy all the other wizards because we were Jewish. I knew it was dangerous, but I had to make the world safe for people who were different, who believed and practiced in ways that weren’t like everyone else. Most people are happy to just muggle along. But I knew that we Jews had a responsibility to make the world a better, happier place!
In the end, good triumphs once and for all! For you see the evil He Who Must Not Be Named could not harm me because I was protected by the deep and true love of my mom. Now, if that’s not a Jewish story, I don’t know what is! Of course, I had a little help from that old stone. No, it wasn’t a Sorcerer’s Stone, but it was an ancient stone, a chip off the original 10 commandments, the stone tablets brought down by Moses. For you see, it is the love of family and our tradition, the love of our heritage, the love that comes from being proud of who you are that is the only thing that can save us in the end.
As for old, He Who Must Not Be Named, see the secret name HMN, [pauses] get it? H.M.N, Haman. Well, he was rendered powerless, a useless shell of his former self. A pastry shell, in fact. We served him up full of delicious jam. Mmm-mmm-mmm! We called them H.M.N.-Taschen. An old wizarding word that means “just desserts” and he sure got his!
So now the Katz out of the bag, so to speak. They used to say “Poor ‘im,” but now I feel pretty darn happy to be me. So Happy Purim is what I say to all of you! Won’t you join me now in the celebration of our great victory over evil. They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!
This story tells the Ester story through the lens of Harry Potter. It has often been commented that the villain of the Harry Potter series displays a form of racism not unlike anti-semitism. Consequently, this story plays on that idea and expands it into another area of Jewish history. Cross-references abound in this monologue. For example, “Poor ‘im” is a homonym for the holiday name, Purim. Furthermore, Ester, like Harry Potter in this story, was an orphan raised by more distant family. When the king decreed that he wanted a new wife, Ester was brought to his castle, but kept her identity a secret. The Qup is a special cup used on Purim, and the abbreviation HMN sounds like Haman (the villain from the Ester story) when said out loud. This story keeps most of essentials to the Ester story while making it more modern. However, it still encourages the listeners to be proud of their heritage and celebrate this particular victory. Since the story is handled very loosely, it is arguably not mythology, though the story of Ester is part of the canonized religious texts.
Rowling, J.K. The Harry Potter Series. New York: Scholastic Inc.
The Book of Esther