Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
A new online course
Starting January 22nd
Register »
Contact Us

Do Jews Celebrate Halloween?

Do Jews Celebrate Halloween?



Do Jews celebrate Halloween? I know its origins aren't very "Jewish," but I'm worried that my kids will feel left out if they can't go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood.


Let me tell you about a wonderful Jewish holiday: once a year, our children dress up as sages, princesses, heroes and clowns. They drop by the homes of our community, visit the infirm and the aged, spreading joy and laughter. They bring gifts of food and drink and collect tzedakah (charity) for the needy.

You guessed it—it's called Purim, when it's customary to send mishloach manot--gifts of food—to one's friends and even more gifts to those in hard times.

Flip it over (October instead of March, demanding instead of giving, scaring instead of rejoicing, demons instead of sages, etc.) and you have Halloween. There you have it: a choice of one of two messages you can give to your children. I call that a choice, because one of the beautiful things about kids is that, unlike adults, they don't do too well receiving two conflicting messages at once.

I know how hard it is to be different, but as Jews, we have been doing just that for most of our 3,800 years. Since Abraham and Sarah broke away from the Sumerian cult of gods and demons, we have lived amongst other peoples while being very different from them. And we dramatically changed the world by being that way.

That's a proud and nurturing role for any child: To be a leader and not a follower, to be a model of what should be rather than of what is.

Make your kids feel that they are the vanguard. They belong to a people who have been entrusted with the mission to be a light to the nations—not an ominous light inside a pumpkin, but a light that stands out and above and shows everyone where to go. Forget about Halloween and wait for Purim to turn the neighborhood upside down!

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Andrew October 31, 2017

Actually most of the pagan rituals were incorporated into Christianity to help the church convert non-believers. But today all these have become so commercial that they have lost their religious identity. Even Santa Claus is a marketing ploy that was dreamed up by a guy in NYC working for an ad agency to sell more gifts. There are Jewish alternatives to most holidays and we should be celebrating those instead. Reply

Maggie Stonell Sundridge On Canada October 28, 2017

I'm not Jewish, although I very much support them. I love what you have posted here.
In line with what you are saying, true Chritians shouldn't keep it either, because it's not, or shouldn't be a Christian celebration either Reply

arthur yanoff October 26, 2017

halloween discussion When I was a kid, my mother, alava shulim, would not let me trick or treat. I had to stay home because she was afraid that someone would give me treif. Actually we used to put on costumes during Purim and had a party at the cheder. Because we are not the prevailing culture, we can't simply ignore what the majority do, however this does go to show that a strong jewish education is important for jewish children. it stays with us. Reply

Anonymous Florida October 26, 2017

That's kind of like saying you're afraid that your children will miss out because they don't celebrate Christmas! Reply

Sam November 1, 2016

Although some of the costumes are pretty creative. Like the girl who dressed as Optimus Prime with Amazon Prime boxes. Reply

Abraham Tulsa November 1, 2016

To Anonymous, who points out that Muslims have a lunar calendar Thank you for your support!!!

Yes, we have much in common.

Your plan for Hallowe'en sounds excellent.

That leaves the neighborhood. If there are childen going "trick or treat" I want to be home for them so as to be a good neighbor. These are my children's playmates! We don't have a solidly Jewish neighborhood here, even near the synagogue.

So I have a bowl of nickels and dimes for them to take a handful. Then I don't have to worry about eating leftover candy, or about buying candy that makes children sick (or worse). And I stay home and leave the porch light on, but I do not set out spooky lawn decorations. Instead, I decorated my sukkah, which was a lot more fun!

If the synagogue had a "play evening" on Hallowe'en, I would drop of my kids, but one of us parents would stay home to hand out the coins to "trick or treaters". Reply

Maggie Stonell On Canada October 28, 2017
in response to Abraham:

Good for you! I don't have children any more, but I want to be friendly towards my neighbours. For this reason I have some small toys etc that children will like, and I'll. try to get some change for older children who collect for charity. I don't have any spooky lawn ornaments either. Reply

Anonymous Reston, VA October 31, 2016

For Brother Daniel in the last comment I feel your pain. I'm Muslim and we go through the same process. Our holidays are based on pure lunar, so every year the dates are different. To make it even complicated, it changes season over the years. Further, we have infighting if the moon was sighted, making it unsure if the holiday is tomorrow or day after.

We have Halal rules ( similar to Kashrut). And Halloween is a challenge. Our local mosque has arranged a fun night for kids and families so kids feel part of community and don't feel left out. Just returned where they had games, magic show, food etc. Maybe the local synagogue may support this effort too?

However, as the Rabbi said in the article, there is a choice. And you should choose wisely. Reply

Anonymous Sharon, MA October 31, 2016

Thank you!
Yesterday at children's museum my older daughter was asked if she wants to decorate a bag to go trick or treat, and she didn't know what it was all about.
True that there are silly traditions in the US, but candy at Simchat Torah makes more sense to us than knowing on random houses... Reply

Daniel Houston, Tx September 18, 2016

We have a different calendar. We can't even tell our non-Jewish friends when the Jewish New Year is, unless it's on their own calendar--on the solar calendar (the Christian calendar) it's a different date every year. Purim too.

A school superintendent was approached with the request that major school testing be on some day other than Rosh HaShanah. He promised. The following year it was on Rosh HaShanah again! The community leaders approached him again & he said, "I especially avoided having it on Sept 27. Why do you keep changing the date!!!"

Nobody warned him that we have a different calendar, a solar-lunar calendar. Nobody had given him a copy of the Hebrew calendar. Poor man had no way to comply.

As for us, we're constantly swimming upstream just from having such a different calendar--& a different "sabbath" (although Shabbat is far more than a mere "sabbath").

Then if you throw in kashrut & how we can't eat with non-Jews...! It's difficult, living in the wide world. Reply

Anonymous September 16, 2016

Grown Ups Worry too! b"H

As I become more religious I notice how hard it is to be different, when it comes to religion. Jews do things a certain way, and it is different. That doesn't mean that every time we are made to feel uncomfortable it is about hatred or malice - although of course it can be. When things flip to the scary, goblin side of difference is when people resent us or attack us (verbally or physically) for not fitting in. Being different can be good, though - like ear-shaped cookies filled with poppy seed filling or fruit. Reply

Stephen Kansas City September 8, 2016

Hamentashen are Ha-mohn-taschen and Mohn means If they are made with fruit they are Ha-fruit-taschen.

If you want real ha-mohn-taschen you want them made with Mohn.

Poppyseed filling. Yum. Reply

Esther Nyc September 8, 2016

Thank you Thank you for putting this in such a positive and simple light. Brought me great comfort! Reply

Scott Sioux Falls November 1, 2015

Great response! I enjoyed this article. It's a great reminder and a great response to people who are concerned. Thanks. Reply

Jon Dabach West Hills, CA October 30, 2015

What Halloween is good for... I will say though that the best time to buy your Purim costumes is the day after Halloween. All the temporary costume shops that pop up in September liquidate their inventory on November first. Reply

Anonymous October 30, 2015

most children and even adults do not think of Halloween and associate it with religion, only with a fun time and dressing up. I guess its all in how you see it. Reply

Chuck Ross Bradenton, Fl. October 30, 2015

Do IT all... I love Purim, the Magilah, the noise-makers, the hamentaschen (I want da' apricot), the giving; all of it.

I also love da' Halloween, da' costumes, da' giving & getting, da' candies (I especially love da' MelloCreme Poompkins and Candy Corn), and all of that shtuff.

So, I'm going with Do-It-All; embrace da' LOVE! Reply

Cappi Lucas California October 30, 2015

I wish that JewIsh people would do that. It is a beautiful thing..I never realized that was done. Thank You for opening my eyes about giving if not food or money but to give my time
Thank you Reply

Lynnette Adelaide, Australia October 30, 2015

Thanks for the insight. Reply

Beth McKeesport October 30, 2015

Outstanding article and VERY true! Baruch HaShem! Reply

Anonymous October 29, 2015

What a terrible argument this article makes. It's not a Jewish holiday. That's all. We don't have to turn it into a competition of whos holiday is better than who's. We also don't have to make ourselves look better by putting other cultures, communities, religions, down. It doesn't matter that we have a similar or comparable holiday to "compete". That has little to do with whether or not we should celebrate any holiday. Purim is Purim and Halloween is Halloween. Reply

Josh Israel October 26, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I don't think this article came to convince people why they should observe Purim, but rather (like any careful and thinking person) analyze the aspects and customs which define Halloween. After seeing the dark/not child friendly aspects, one (if grown up in a semi-affiliated Jewish home) naturally will see the good and healthy aspects of Purim.

If we're looking for truth and goodness, it's not hard to see which day offers more. Reply

Related Topics