Halloween in different Jewish homes

I have a friend who is an Orthodox Jew and her favorite non-Jewish holiday is Halloween. She loves the colors, the decorations, the candy, the spiders, etc. She could choose to be Reform and go with the whole, “It is just an American holiday. No big deal. It’s just letting kids have fun and eat candy.” But that doesn’t express her beliefs. Because she is traditionally observant she does not take her children trick or treating, but she, like her rabbi, leaves candy out in a bowl for those children to arrive at her house seeking a treat.

What do you do when you like something, a lot, that doesn’t fit into your idea of who you are and how you live? First, she acknowledges the truth: Halloween isn’t Jewish. It’s a mix of pagan and Christian elements. And I love it. In my mind it is like someone saying, “I love chocolate, but I prefer not to eat candy so I won’t have any, thank you.”  Have you noticed that people don’t like for others to make decisions that they themselves wouldn’t? It as if someone else NOT eating chocolate or NOT observing Halloween is a personal affront.

My friend can still enjoy looking at decorations, reading ghost stories, and she can even wear orange. But she chooses to draw a line. Is that allowed? In America, especially in the liberal bay area, we tend to act as though, “We are totally accepting of everyone… except people who don’t make our same choices.”

If you are among those who make your kids an awesome costume, take them trick or treating, or hand out candy in a costume, enjoy! Honestly, I’ve sown many a costume, dressed up, made graveyard cakes, and handed out candy to loads of cute kids. But I understand my friend’s decision and I respect her right to see life through her own lens. In turn, she accepts the way I live.

Have fun; be true to yourself and patient with those who differ from you.