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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 .
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Discussion (317)
November 1, 2015
Great response!
I enjoyed this article. It's a great reminder and a great response to people who are concerned. Thanks.
Sioux Falls
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.
Jon Dabach
West Hills, CA
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.
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!
Chuck Ross
Bradenton, Fl.
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
Cappi Lucas
October 30, 2015
Thanks for the insight.
Adelaide, Australia
October 30, 2015
Outstanding article and VERY true! Baruch HaShem!
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.
October 29, 2015
I agree that Halloween is based in demons and Purim is so much fun and has a great teaching message but when you live in such a secular society and go to school or live on the same streets as your friends who go trick or treating it is hard to say no to your child I think this could sour a child on judaism
October 29, 2015
Halloween vs. Purim ?
While I don't think that Jewish children need to be trick or treating, I do not think it necessary to compare Halloween to Purim. The reason to choose to not celebrate Hallowren is not because we have a more virtuous holiday. It is not about comparing and elevating one over the other. Purim is not the alternative to Halloween. Purim is its own meaningful and unique celebration of a victory for peace and the right for all people to live their own religious and other beliefs side by side. We are not better or more Righteous than anyone else, nor are our holidays. I will happily open my door to any smiling child, as I do for Elijah on Passover and as I hope any person, Jewish, or not, would open their door for my child.
Lisa Rosenstein.