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Oct 31 2012

What Do Jews Think About Halloween?

By at 9:27 am

Halloween is kind of a tough one for Jews. Less openly Christian than, say, Christmas or Valentine’s Day, but not as ecumenical as Thanksgiving. There’s scary costumes and candy, and a vaguely pagan-y narrative. So how does it play out for Jews?

Here at Kveller we’ve given you a few different perspectives on this issue.

The Jewish Take on Halloween:
A summary of different Jewish positions on Halloween

Mayim Bialik tells us why Halloween isn’t for her, but how she still makes it fun.

Carla explains why she doesn’t like Halloween, but still does it up with her family anyway.

Feb 6 2012

Tu Bishvat in Candyland

By at 10:47 am
Tu Bishvat Candy

No time to plan a 15-course fruit seder for Tu Bishvat? Try candy.

The holiday of Tu Bishvat, a.k.a. the birthday of the trees, starts at sundown tomorrow. Tu Bishvat is a field day for all environmentally-conscious families: an ideal ground from which to explore, celebrate and protect all things ecological. Kabbalists gave it a 15-course fruit seder of its own back in the 16th century, which is still observed in some fashion today. But if you want to make this tradition more tangible for your kids, we have some candy recommendations for you.

To read the rest of Joanna’s piece, click here.

Oct 28 2011

Hello, We’re Talking About Free Candy

By at 9:14 am

Man, Carla is a Halloween scrooge! Our perspective on Halloween could not be more different. The fact that her post didn’t focus on FREE CANDY absolutely blows me away. Don’t Jews love free stuff?

I remember as a child we watched Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin while my mom “checked” our candy (for poison, so she claimed). In doing so she picked out all of her favorites – she liked those gross honey candies with the bee wrappers and Almond Joy so I gladly gave her the runt of my loot.  My brother’s and I carefully planned our costumes and wore them to the school parade and I remember being sad when I was too old for beggars night and had to stay home and hand out the candy.

Pre-children my husband and I were Halloween crazy. We have four Rubbermaid tubs of spooky (no slutty) costumes and decorations. Every year we decorated our entryway up like a haunted house with scary music and spiders and my husband would answer the door in a scream mask wielding a plastic bloody machete. Every few minutes or so we’d glance past the black curtains hanging over our front porch to see how many ladybugs and princesses were crying in the driveway (usually there were at least six) and I’d go out in my trusty pumpkin costume  and give them all extra candy. The only downfall to our fun was that we were too old to trick-or-treat, although we did take pride in buying WAY too much candy and polishing it off ourselves afterwards. We usually ordered pizza too, which pretty much made us the coolest non-breeders on the block.

The ironic thing about our holiday celebration, other than the fact that we didn’t have children, was that my husband and I are TOTAL WIMPS. We are scared of EVERYTHING. We don’t go to haunted houses, ghost tours, or watch scary movies.  We can’t even watch an episode of CSI because we both have nightmares for a week. Once our children are old enough to request these types of activities they’ll have to find some cooler parents.

Last year was our first Halloween as a family of three and we didn’t decorate a single thing, we were lucky to have left the house in between nap #3 and baby bedtime. I pulled out my pumpkin costume and my husband was a man, and he wore a yellow hat (rendering him “the man in the yellow hat”). Our son was a dragon and hated every minute of it. We live in a Jewish neighborhood, so there isn’t any door-to-door begging and I think our jaws dropped to the floor when we found out. Here we are finally with a genetic tie to free candy – and we were living on a street of dark porches.

It was actually the first time I realized that Jews don’t celebrate Halloween, and I immediately told my husband that Halloween, much like my Britney Spears Christmas Album, we not something I’m giving up. Thankfully, the business district gives candy to kids who parade up and down the street and it’s actually more efficient than walking up to doorsteps.  Last year, our little dragon scored a pumpkin full of candy, mostly chocolate, that my husband and I gladly polished off.

I love Judaism and the meaningful traditions excite me, but I am not about to tell my child that he cannot partake in yet another glitzy fun American candy-fest.  Like Carla, I do not see Halloween, pumpkin patches or hayrides as a threat to my son’s Jewish identity. I see them as fall traditions that our family will look forward to with great anticipation. I love it when our house smells like pumpkin bread, I love seeing my kid dressed up as adorable creatures and I love eating his snack-sized Snickers bars that he isn’t old enough to partake in yet. I’m sure the day will come when he is embarrassed that his parents wear costumes and he counts his candy before heading to bed, but we have many years to enjoy Halloween before that happens.

Even if you are a Jew who doesn’t celebrate Halloween please tell me you go to the store on November 1st to get half-priced chocolate and cheap Purim costumes?

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