Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Boy Who Narrated: What the Harry Potter Movies Got Wrong

WARNING: MASSIVE HARRY POTTER SPOILERS AKA I'm not even going to try to keep this spoiler free because it will

I want to talk about how the movies got it wrong, specifically with regards to some of the concepts in Harry Potter that really shaped my life when I was a kid. This is primarily because the books were from Harry's perspective, and the movies seem to be produced from the perspective of an omniscient narrator. This whole post was inspired by the podcast Witch, Please, which is a nuanced, progressive, and incredibly amazing Harry Potter podcast that I have gotten quite addicted to lately.

I watched all of the Harry Potter movies for the first time in the month before I came to camp which is where I am when you are reading this. The first thing that I noticed, which is slightly irrelevant to the point of this post is that these movies are scary, even for me as a 19 year old. I am so happy that I didn't see them while I was reading the books.

Harry, in the movies is greatly simplified, which I believe does a disservice to the viewer. For example, in Chamber of Secrets, there is a large amount of Harry wondering if he is going crazy because he is hearing things in the walls, and in Order of the Phoenix, he is having random pangs of anger towards Dumbledore and within his mind. These feelings that your mind is betraying you os something that greatly comforted me as an anxious child. They taught me to ask for help (harry eventually spoke to Dumbledore) and that everything would work out in the end.

Another thing that was lost in the movies was some of the lessons about friendship. For example, in Order of the Phoenix, Ron and Hermione both become prefects and Harry tries to reconcile his feelings of being left out and his desire to be happy for his friends, something that every child has had to deal with. This contributes, in my opinion to his self doubt when it comes to his leading of Dumbledore's Army. Every single person, including myself, doubts themselves at points.

My point is that the books were written to teach lessons and the movies try to simplify these lessons and end up losing some things. I think this is also why people who have only watched the movies don't get how crucial Harry Potter can be in peoples' lives. So read the books if you haven't yet. Please.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Rebellion and Gratitude: My Bat Mitzvah Portion Six Years Later

Six years ago, I read from Korach at my Bat Mitzvah. This portion is not a pleasant one and I did and do not enjoy re-reading it. It involves a bunch of people, led by Korach, starting a rebellion against Moses and it all results in a bunch of people getting swallowed into the earth because God wants to teach them a lesson. I'm not going to say that Korach, nor God was right in this situation; I know better than to wrap myself up in that debate, but I think the idea of challenging what is happening in the world and challenging leadership(to a certain extent) is an important thing to do.  We need to, at least occasionally, question what we are told by the ones who lead us, and to do this, we may have to risk ourselves for the rebellion--  I'm not expecting anyone to get swallowed up into the earth anytime soon, but you know what I mean.

On a more encouraging note, I have evolved a lot in terms of Judaism over the last six years. I improved my Hebrew through  seven weeks of immersion at camp. and then more so through a year of college hebrew. I planned four Youth Group services, and led countless others alongside my former cantor. I attended over 20 regional youth group events and even more temple youth group ones. I spent six more summers at camp(if you count the one that we are in the middle of).Judaism has saved my life over and over, from the singing of Od Yavo at my Israel Trip orientation in 8th grade after months of devastating friend drama to the arrival at every NFTY event.

When I planned to write this post, I had no idea that it would be so hard to express how thankful I am for the Jewish experiences that I have had since my Bat Mitzvah. I would like to extend my thanks to every single advisor in NFTY who hugged me when I was crying or taught me to play a song on guitar, and to my regional advisor who I hadn't met at the point of my Bat Mitzvah, but would change my life for the better in so many ways. To all of the clergypeople who have taught me tidbits of knowledge and served as sounding boards, thank you especially to Rabbi London who has been there for me since before my Bat Mitzvah, Cantor Luck who taught me  for my Bat Mitzvah and became my role model and teacher for the six years between my preparation for my Bat Mitzvah and my Confirmation year,  and thank you to Rabbi Winick who has been so incredibly supportive this past year. Thank you, BESSY, for becoming my forever home and teaching me that acceptance and social justice are two of the most important things in the world. Thank you to Hillel at Brandeis (I already have a whole post on this). Thank you to all of the random people who have made me smile and taught me that kindness is truly the most important thing. Faith is wonderful, but in my personal opinion, faith is nothing without community, and Judaism has given me that and all of the people and organizations I just mentioned have as well.