Halloween Hospitality

Image: Candy bars by Alexas_Fotos on pixabay.com. 

There’s a big bag of candy in my refrigerator, so it must be the week of Halloween.

Before I was Jewish, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I loved wearing a costume, and I loved handing out candy at the door. After I became a Jew in my 40’s, it took me a while to sort out what I was going to do with Halloween.

My thoughts went like this:

I love Halloween! I am not going to give it up!

Halloween has its roots in both pagan practice and Catholic practice – it’s not for Jews.

— But I love Halloween!

Halloween is a holiday when we basically license people to do mischief – not very Jewish!

— But I love Halloween!

We have Purim for costumes, without the whole “trick or treat” protection racket.

— But I love Halloween!

… and so on.

I had no problem whatsoever letting go of Christmas, partly because it carried some bad memories, and partly because the religious aspect of it was quite real to me. Halloween was a lot harder to give up, because I had a lot of great Halloween memories, both as a child and as an adult, and its religious content was not as immediate to my experience.

However, I could not escape a simple fact: It isn’t a Jewish holiday, and there are things about it that are simply not right from a Jewish point of view.

After a lot of years of study and thought, I’ve decided to celebrate Halloween as a time for hospitality. I don’t dress up. I don’t decorate. But the kids who come to my door know that they can depend on me for some really high-quality candy – stuff that they like, or can trade to others for things they like more.  And I let my non-Jewish friends know that they are welcome to bring their children by for a safe treat. I admire their costumes, I hand out the goodies, and it’s a day of goodwill all around.

Come Purim – look out! You never know what crazy thing I’ll wear!

Who IS this guy?


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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at http://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

6 thoughts on “Halloween Hospitality”

  1. I love Halloween too. I may have said this here in previous years, and if so I apologize for the repetition, but what I love most about it is it’s the one day of the entire year when we as a society seem willing to put aside our suspicions and just open our doors to one and all, and ooh and aah over the cute costumes and greet each other in ways that it’s all too easy not to do the rest of the year. I don’t even mind the older ones who show up on the late side, carrying pillowcases and dressed in their everyday garb as disenfranchised urban youth. I get that anyone who grew up in a place where egging and TP-ing and other nasty pranks were commonplace wouldn’t have the same reaction.

    1. Oh, Patti, so true! What makes me happy about this “solution” to the holiday is that I found a way that I could still enjoy this aspect of it, the open door, without engaging in the parts that seem to me to conflict with my Jewish convictions.

      You are so wise!

  2. My friends dressed my up as a Boxer to hand out goodies. A neighborhood with 500 children and me handing out kewl stuff wearing boxing gloves. The children laughed and loved it. To see the children smiling was an uplifting experience. Shalom

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