Once again we are faced with the annual dilemma of what to doabout Halloween. Should we let the kids "trick or treat" or not? Weknow that Halloween is not a Jewish holiday; that is not the problem.We celebrate Thanksgiving and Presidents Day, both American holidayswhich reflect good values. Halloween, on the other hand, does notreflect a value system that we would like to pass on to our children.It focuses on taking, greed and violence, not to mention theconsequences, a nasty trick, played on those who refuse to give.
My children attend a Jewish day-school where no attention is paidto the holiday. But we still experience the holiday in our suburbancommunity where party stores are transformed into haunted houses,street corners are dawned with pumpkin patches and everyone istalking about what they are going to be on Oct. 31.
In our home, where we believe the influence on values isstrongest, we play it down. No pumpkins or carving, no decorationsare displayed and very little attention is placed on costumes. Weeven relate the collecting of candy to the value of tzedakah(righteousness) by having the kids donate ten percent of their candyto a charity.
To counterbalance, we make a huge deal of all other Jewishholidays, particularly Purim. While we will spend money on a Purimcostume, anything laying around the house will have to do forHalloween. We give gifts, have lots of treats and host Purim parties.
Another subtle message is found in the garage. There, you can finda box designated for each Jewish holiday filled with paraphernalia.The boxes overflow; Passover and Hanukkah require two boxes each. Themessage is clear: we have a Purim box, but there is no box forHalloween.
And yet, we still struggle. I admit, although we move closer andcloser to our yiddishkeit, we are still assimilated.
This year presents us with something that can compete withHalloween -- Shabbat! The perfect solution. The children loveShabbat. It's our favorite time of the week -- family, friends, goodfood, yummy desserts! What could be better? They'll never missHalloween. So here is the plan: We are having a Shabbat Party. Theinvitation goes like this:
It's a Shabbat Party
You'll want to be there
But, regular clothes you mustn't wear
Come dressed in a costume
be creative and fun
At the end of the dinner
We'll pick the best one
The theme is of course JEWISH
be it hero, holiday, or food
Base your costume on your mood!
We'll do the dinner, dessert,
treasure hunt, the whole thing
there's just one thing you can bring --
A can for SOVA
will make us all smile
So come on October 31st
and party a while!!
At 5:30 p.m...
please knock on our door
We'll light candles and a whole lot more.
Well, the response so far, a big hit! They can't wait. My8-year-old daughter has announced she wants to dress as Hava, thedaughter in "Fiddler on the Roof." Would this have been her firstchoice for a Halloween costume? It took Shabbat to help us through.
Risa Munitz-Gruberger is associate director of The WhizinInstitute.