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Kids Zone

Do Jews Celebrate Halloween?

Do Jews Celebrate Halloween?

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Question:

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.

Answer:

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 Chabad.org, 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.
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Discussion (295)
November 14, 2014
Thumbs up Anonymous! Perfectly well-said.
BETH
November 12, 2014
Halloween and Purim
There is no reason to compare Halloween and Purim, unless it is to say "Look - we are just like Christians - we have a dress-up day, too!"
We grew up Habad traditional in America and went trick-or-treating (except on Shabat). We got to stay up and watch a Boris Karloff movie. There was no religious connotations to it. And it had nothing to do with Purim.
Having to justify everything in a Christian context is a worse message than whether or not to give out candy to kids.
Do not teach your children that Purim is the Jewish Halloween. Teach them that every culture and every religion and every nation has celebrations. We as Jews do not worship other Gods, nor do we partake in rituals that involve other Gods. Long ago the Church corrupted Halloween, which was a Druid harvest day, and we do not keep it as a religious day. However, being scary and scared once a year is fun. Our G-d is jealous, not stupid.
Incidentally, it is more common in Israel, too - just another excuse for a part
Anonymous
November 5, 2014
Hi Randy, Thank you for your response. Sharing in the remembrance of a fallen jewish American soldier on Memorial day and Veterans Day here in the U.S. is similar to Israels Memorial Day. It would be my dream to have all Shuls across America say Yizkor for our fallen Jewish American soldiers. Many shuls recognize the IDF in the Yizkor service, but not our own American Jewish soldiers. Yizkor is never missed, but has nothing to do with sharing our loss with the people of our Country and don't need to justify this any further.
Beth Agami, Goldstar Mother
November 4, 2014
Beth Agami, that is why we have yizkor.
Randy
Flint, MI
November 3, 2014
Joel, does Avodah Zarah include recognizing Memorial Day and Veterans Day? My son obm was killed in Iraq, therefore, I should not acknowledge these legal holidays to memorialize the memory of my son?
Beth Agami, Goldstar Mother
November 2, 2014
this article does not answer the question of "do Jews celebrate Halloween"! Yes we have Purim... And that's great... But why not answer the question asked instead of telling people they can celebrate Purim... No kidding!!

The question is simple... Is there any harm to letting your kids not stand out as "different" when all their friend go out for a night of fun??? Do kids really know what Halloween is about? Shouldn't it be more important to have kids feel included in a community vs. singled out?
e. Epstein
new york
November 1, 2014
halloween?
the celebration of any secular holiday is avodah zarah, is it not?
joel beck
mequon
November 1, 2014
Well said!
Anonymous
Musina
October 31, 2014
Please don't forget about Halloween--------Realistically Purim does not hold a Pumpkin to the community , mystery , laughter , and suspense of Halloween. Don't be so quick to have Jewish people dismiss the fun of this " holiday ". As a Jew , I don't mean to dismiss the significance of Purim; but in your zeal to discount goblins and ghosts you have damped the spirit of togetherness we should share with our Chritian brethen---not to mention the fun. Come on Rabbi---attend that Halloween party.
Dr. Larry J. Powitz
October 31, 2014
Allhallowtide
So, just because a lot of the posters seem to misunderstand the origin of Hallowe'en, or All Hallows Eve, as it was originally known: It was a time dedicated to remembering martyrs, saints and departed believers. In other words, very different from the demon-worshipping orgies y'all seem to be picturing. All Hallows is just Day 1 of a three-day remembrance and worship cycle.

True, it was originally based on an older Celtic tradition of year-ending and harvest celebration, but over the course of the Middle Ages was very thoroughly Christianized. This was partially because renaming and remythologizing older pagan holidays was a great way to convince pagans to convert to Christianity (see also: Christmas (solstice) and Easter (Beltane)). So. As an observant Jew, I could see avoiding it because it's a Christian holiday, but not because it's somehow worshiping demons.
Anonymous
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