September 3, 2013

FISCHER: My Harry Potter Bar Mitzvah

Print More

Hello everyone, welcome back to the Hill! My name is David Fischer. I’m a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences and when I was 12 years and 11 months old I became a man.

For all of you who haven’t attended these middle-school frat party equivalents, a typical, modern Bar or Bat Mitzvah is broken up into two very different components. The first consists of a service led by the lucky 13-year-old, complete with an excerpt from the Torah (a scroll written entirely in Biblical Hebrew) that must be read and discussed by said 13-year-old. The second portion of this coming-of-age extravaganza consists of a party in which the newly christened man or woman awkwardly lights candles, greets half-remembered relatives and stands on the opposite side of the dance floor from members of the opposite sex. Essentially, the entire thing, in all of it awkwardness, is the manifestation of middle school crammed into one day.

So, after that gripping summary of a typical Bar or Bat Mitzvah, you may be wondering why I would write about mine in my first column of the school year. Well, even years after my Jewish coming-of-age, I find myself still gleaning important life lessons from my ceremony — lessons that continue to shape me today.

Throughout high school I would never divulge the theme of my Bar Mitzvah to my friends. Frankly, it didn’t come up in conversation that often (for some reason “What was your Bar Mitzvah Theme?” isn’t a popular conversation starter) and I was also a bit embarrassed about it. However, Cornell community: I feel comfortable enough with all of you to confess that the theme of my Bar Mitzvah party was “Harry Potter.” A “magician” named “Merdwyn” presided over the festivities. Everyone in attendance was seated at four long tables and sorted into the four Hogwarts houses. Like I said, it was the manifestation of my middle school years — you can maybe see why I didn’t mention it during high school.

The Bar Mitzvah years were clearly one of the more awkward phases in my life — I don’t think even the harshest Sun website trolls can argue with that (in fact, I’m sure it will be great fodder for comments on future columns). However, these years were instrumental in my transition into the (mostly) socially-adjusted person that I aspire to be today.

Freshmen, I can bet that for the two short weeks that you’ve been in the lovely “City” of Ithaca, New York, you have had more than 18 people encourage you to become involved on campus. I would argue that isn’t the most important thing that you should be focusing on. While you are in the midst of this oasis of activity, I charge you to not only remember your past but also to embrace it. There was no reason that I needed to relate the tale of my faux coming-of-age.  I could just pretend that I had a “Sports” or an “Around the World” themed Bar Mitzvah, but my love of the Harry Potter series (which is still going strong, by the way) has shaped my interests in inexplicable ways. So, freshmen: Don’t forget who you are and why you’re here and you’ll have the best four years of your life.

David Fischer is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at dfischer@cornellsun.com. Fischy Business appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: David Fischer