Growing up, Halloween was never something I celebrated. My Orthodox parents didn’t think it was appropriate for their children to go around trick-or-treating, and since most of my friends’ parents felt the same way, it was never something I felt I was missing out on. (Besides, we had Purim, which to me was just like Halloween, minus the spooky stuff.)
My husband, on the other hand, grew up trick-or-treating and loved it as a kid. So last year, when my son was almost 2, we decided to take him trick-or-treating, and he had a blast (even though we confiscated the vast majority of his candy once we got home, as we weren’t about to give him free reign over his stash). I know Halloween is one of those gray areas for a lot of folks who are Jewish—after all, celebrating Halloween is not the same thing as celebrating Christmas or Easter, but it doesn’t seem to be as accepted a holiday as Thanksgiving, which many observant Jews celebrate without hesitation.
I happen to appreciate Halloween because I’m a lover of all things fall-related, and can also see why it’s fun for children, but this year we’re going to do things differently—because while I do think it’s OK for Jewish families to participate in Halloween, since it falls out on a Friday night this year, I don’t want it to overshadow Shabbat in any way. So rather than ignore Halloween, I’d prefer to put a Jewish spin on it.
Instead of going trick-or-treating, we’re going to stay home and have Shabbat dinner that Friday night. But, we’re still going to put out candy for other children to enjoy, and we’re going to spin it to our son as a form of pre-Shabbat tzedakah, which is something we’ve recently tried to incorporate into our daily lives. We’re also going to let our son wear a costume to greet visitors— only, as opposed to last year’s pumpkin get-up (I know, cliché), we’re going to encourage him to dress up as a character from Purim or Hanukkah, such as Mordechai or Judah the Maccabee. Sure, the kids who come to our door might get confused, but they’ll get over it once they see our impressive selection of candy. And since we typically close out our Shabbat dinners with something sweet, my son won’t even have to miss out on the sugar factor.
Maybe this plan is silly, and some might find it pointless or unnecessary. But for us, it’s a great way to give our son a taste of both worlds. He’ll get to giggle and marvel at our visitors’ costumes and enjoy wearing one of his own. At the same time, he’ll get a delicious Shabbat dinner and a sweet treat afterward without all the legwork of going door-to-door asking for candy. All in all, we’re really looking forward to this year’s Shabbatoween. And if all goes well, perhaps we’ll make a point of incorporating Jewish traditions into every Halloween going forward, no matter which night it happens to fall out.