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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 (321)
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.
Houston, Tx
September 16, 2016
Grown Ups Worry too!

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.
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.
Kansas City
September 8, 2016
Thank you
Thank you for putting this in such a positive and simple light. Brought me great comfort!
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