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There shall not be found among you a soothsayer, a diviner, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a necromancer, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord… (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

If Yehuda Goldstein had gotten to design the calendar, he would have never ever arranged for his eleventh birthday to fall right before Pesach, so that he could be on his knees on the kitchen floor, scrubbing and scrubbing at some stupid gunk on the floor of the fridge. His mother and Esti were baking a cake, Adina was washing the windows, Tatty was learning with Sholom, and Brochie and the baby were getting in the way of his cleaning. He was willing to bet none of them even remembered it was his birthday.

Esti leaned over him. "You missed a spot."

"Go away!" he growled.

She pointed a toe at the gunk spot he had spent the last twenty minutes scrubbing. "Me and Mummy are trying to cook the whole Pesach menu from scratch! Boys!Can't you even get the fridge clean?"

"Go away!" His voice was drowned out by the mixer. She didn't even hear him. He could scrub it all day, probably, and Esti would just say can't you do anything? He scowled fiercely at the dirt.

It disappeared.

He rubbed his eyes and stared where the gunk had just been a second ago. Something must be wrong with his eyes.

"YEHUDA!" Esti yelled over the noise of the mixer. "Get the DOOR!"

"I'm going!" he shouted. It was his birthday; bad enough he was spending it scrubbing the fridge, you would think Esti could answer the door instead of making him do everything.

He scrambled to his feet and stood on tiptoe to look through the peephole, still holding the dishtowel. Tatty always told him to look first in case there was a dangerous person there. It was an old woman who looked vaguely non-Jewish. Probably someone to speak with Tatty or Mummy.

He opened the door. "Hello. Can I help you?"

"Good afternoon," the woman said. She didn't look dangerous, she looked about his Bubby's age, but she was definitely a goy, wearing trousers. "Are your parents home?"

"Tatty? Someone's at the door for you." Yehuda opened the door wider. "You can come in if you want. What did you say your name was?"

"Minerva McGonagall," the woman said. "If I could speak with your parents…"

"Yehuda, who was at the door?" His father appeared.

"Good morning, my name is Minerva McGonagall." She extended her hand.

His father looked flustered. "I-I…I'm sorry, I can't—"

"He doesn't shake hands with girls," Yehuda explained.

"Yehuda!" His father regained composure. "I'm sorry, it's a religious thing, nothing personal. Are you here on behalf of an organization?"

"Of sorts," McGonagall said. "I represent a school for children with special gifts, and I'm here about your son Anthony."

His father was already speaking before the guest finished her sentence, ushering her toward the door. "My son is perfectly happy in his school, thank you for your time, and have a wonderful—"

"Special gifts?"

They turned. His mother stood in the kitchen doorway, still in an apron. Potato starch dusted her snood. "Meir, maybe we'd better invite her in."

His father raised his eyebrows quizzically. An unspoken communication seemed to pass between his parents. Finally his father stepped aside. "This is probably better done in private."

Yehuda led the way to his father's study, a small room lined with bookcases full of sefarim that his father knew all the names of. Yehuda wasn't usually allowed in the room, but today seemed to be special. He opened a folding chair for the guest and waited for his father to tell him where to go.

"Sholom, please go help Adina; Mummy and I need the study now." His father gently pushed Sholom toward the door and gestured for McGonagall to sit. Sholom gave Yehuda a curious look as he shut the door behind him.

His mother sat in his father's office chair and took Yehuda onto her lap. For once, he did not protest that he was a big boy. He felt a little scared.

"My name is Minerva McGonagall," McGonagall started again. "I am the deputy headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and I have come to inform you that your son Anthony has been offered a place in our school."

All three Goldsteins flinched as though they had been slapped. "Witchcraft?" his father said.

McGonagall turned to his mother. "You seemed to understand what I meant about special gifts. Has your son ever shown…unusual, supernatural abilities? Maybe caused things to disappear, or change color, or to act strangely around him—"

"I don't want to go to some goyish school for witches." Disappear. He squirmed, avoiding his parents' eyes.

"There was that time…" his father said slowly, "Yehuda, do you remember when Moshe Meyerson said you lit his peyos on fire?"

Yehuda flinched, burying his face in his mother's shoulder. "I told you I didn't!" he cried. "I don't know how it happened, he was trying to steal my lunch and I just wanted him to go away, I didn't do anything!"

"That's quite typical for a young wizard," McGonagall explained. "The magic acts out in times of stress."

She was calm, she wasn't screaming, she wasn't suspending him for bringing fire to school. He sat up straight, emboldened. "I did it just now, you know. Just before you came."

His parents looked at him. His mother's mouth made a small, silent O.

"I was scrubbing the fridge and I was really annoyed at Esti and it was my birthday. And the thing I was scrubbing—well—it just…disappeared," he finished lamely. Fast cleaning. Was that some kind of magic power?

But McGonagall nodded. "Exactly."

"So you're telling us," his mother said, "that our son has magical powers, and you want him to come to a school we've never heard of—I'm sorry, but how come we haven't heard of this school for witchcraft and wizardry?"

"Statute of Secrecy," McGonagall said promptly. "The wizarding community does its best to conceal the existence of magic from Mug—from non-magical people such as yourselves."

A knock at the study door made all of them jump. Adina stuck her head in. "Mummy! Brochie's trying to eat the cake you and Esti were making, and the baby needs a diaper change!"

"Ask Esti, please," his father said. "We're having a private conversation with Mrs. McGonagall here."

"So why does Yehuda get to stay in and not me?"

"Adina, please listen to Tatty," his mother said. Adina slammed the door. They could hear her stomping away.

McGonagall was now holding a large square envelope. "If you were a wizarding family, he'd have received his acceptance letter by owl. Our policy for children from Muggle families is to deliver it by hand and explain what it means." She placed the letter in Yehuda's hands.

By owl? Muggle? A million questions swarmed in his mind as he turned the envelope over. It was heavier than he'd guessed, thick and shiny soft beige paper, with a seal of deep red wax embossed with the letter H. The front was printed in swirling black calligraphy:

Mr Anthony Goldstein

The Boys' Room

10 Finchley Road

Golders Green


He bit his lip, feeling a spot of hope. "My name's not Anthony, so maybe you've got me mixed up with some other Goldstein?"

"No," McGonagall said firmly. "The Book of Acceptance records every magical child born in Britain. There is an eleven-year-old boy named Anthony Goldstein residing at this address, with a place reserved for him at Hogwarts."

"We all call him Yehuda," his mother explained. "Anthony is only his legal name."

His father shot her a look.

"It's okay, Ta. There's no way she's faking this just to get my legal name," Yehuda said slowly. "Look what this letter's addressed to. The Boys' Room. How did you know?"

Without waiting for an answer, he opened the envelope, pulling out two sheets of a strangely soft paper that felt like klaf. Then he realized why the texture felt so familiar. It was parchment.

He read the first page aloud. "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore, Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sork, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards. Dear Mr. Goldstein, we are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July. Yours sincerely, Minerva McGonagall, deputy headmistress." He looked up at her. "This is nutters."

"Yehuda," his mother admonished.

McGonagall handed him the next page. "This is a list of the supplies you'll need."

His eyes grew wider and wider as he read.


First-year students will require:

1. Three sets of plain work robes (black)

2. One plain pointed hat (black) for day wear

3. One pair of protective gloves (dragon hide or similar)

4. One winter cloak (black, with silver fastenings)

Please note that all pupil's clothes should carry name tags.


All students should have a copy of each of the following:

The Standard Book of Spells (Grade 1), by Miranda Goshawk

A History of Magic, by Bathilda Bagshot

Magical Theory, by Adalbert Waffling

A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration, by Emeric Switch

One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, by Phyllida Spore

Magical Drafts and Potions, by Arsenius Jigger

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander

The Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection, by Quentin Trimble


1 wand

1 cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)

1 set glass or crystal phials

1 telescope

1 set brass scales

Students may also bring, if they desire, an owl OR a cat OR a toad.


Wands, cauldrons, broomsticks—Yehuda folded the page very slowly, avoiding his parents' eyes. This was rapidly devolving into the strangest birthday he had ever had. "It can't be. There's no such thing as magic."

"Do you need proof?" McGonagall asked.

"If you had any, I might ask for it," his father muttered.

"Please don't scream," McGonagall requested. She turned into a cat.

They all screamed, Yehuda loudest of all. Footsteps pounded down the hallway and Sholom burst into the room. "What happened?"

"That woman, Mrs. McGonagall, she…" His father clutched his chest.

"What?" Sholom looked around in confusion.

Yehuda gasped. McGonagall sat calmly on the folding chair as though she had never disappeared. There was no trace of a cat.

"It's okay," he told Sholom. "We just got surprised." He got up and closed the door in his brother's face. "How did you do that?"

"Magic," McGonagall said simply. "You're a wizard, Anthony. You could learn to do it, too."

"But I can't go to Hog…to your school," he said desperately. "All my friends go to Torah Temima, and your school doesn't have Mishnayos or any of that. It's not even Jewish!"

"Listen to me, Anthony—"


"Yahooda, then." He was too distraught to giggle at her mangling of his name. "You set a boy's hair on fire without meaning to. Unless you learn to control your magic, that can happen again. It may even get worse as you get older."

Yehuda shivered. He glanced at his parents.

"Look," his father said finally. "If I accept that all this is true, we'll need to ask our rabbi what to do about this. Sending our son off to a non-Jewish boarding school to learn witchcraft is not a decision we can make lightly."

"The Statute of Secrecy—"

"Let us assume that the Statute of Secrecy was created by wizards," his father said, dipping his thumb in Talmudic sing-song. "We are not wizards, so it follows that we are not bound by your statute of secrecy."

McGonagall opened her mouth, twitched, and closed it, looking annoyed. "What do you intend to ask your rabbi, if I may be so bold?"

"You'll find out."