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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.
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Discussion (300)
October 12, 2015
The problem with this reasoning is that I don't know of any city or town, especially not a small town like the one we live in, that has a Purim celebration. If I were to attempt to celebrate Purim rather than Halloween with my children then they would miss being able to go out with their friends for Halloween and we would look rather silly being the only ones dressed up for Purim trying to celebrate a holiday that no one else recognises.
July 21, 2015
This is to Joel who commented about his son and celebrating veterans and memorial day. I don't know if you'll ever see my comment, but avodah zarah means "strange service". What we're talking about here is serving idols. Celebrating veterans who have served and perished, and those who have served and are still with us is a honorable tradition that has nothing to do with serving idols or other deities. My husband is a 1st Iraqi War veteran and I'm proud to celebrate his service on these beautiful days that we have to recognize their sacrifice. You should never cease to do that for your son, and never compare that honor to that of celebrating avodah zarah.
July 20, 2015
Well-put, Anonymous!
Samantha Leon
February 20, 2015
Good intentions but terrible advice if you are already living in a secular community with secular friends, suggestion tell them to move where they belong, you guessed it "Israel" Chodesh Tov & Gut Shabbos
December 11, 2014
Holloween - come away from that darkness
The word Halloween if you think a bit really means Hallo - ween which is a satanic side track to teach kids to be bad, that tricking people is good. You should ask yourselves the question "Do you want your kids to be Holy, to walk with Hashem or to be worldly and walk down the path of death". Moses said, "choose life and live". Hashem has called you to be a holy people, a light to the nations. You can't be a lite if your swallowed up by the darkness. I am with you Rabbi on this one. Purim is a better thing to teach your kids. I never sent my kids out on Halloween
Bernice Needham
London, Ont/Can
November 14, 2014
Thumbs up Anonymous! Perfectly well-said.
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
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.
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
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