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Jewish Journal

To Trick or Treat…That Is The Question

by Mihal Levy

October 30, 2009 | 1:38 am

To trick or treat, that is the question…and one of the biggest Jewish dilemmas.  Do we celebrate Halloween?  Do we let our children celebrate it?

I remember this dilemma when my brother and I were little.  One year we would be allowed to celebrate it, the next year our parents would get Jewy on us and we weren’t allowed.  When we got older, I think my brother and I celebrated it in spite of our parents (well, at least I did, anyway). 

When I became too old for trick or treating, I made sure to find a party to go to.  I just hope my son doesn’t have the same reaction in his adolescent years towards me, as I question this holiday.  It is a little spooky, I must admit.  We have even avoided Universal Studios (with our annual pass) for the past month due to all the cadavers hanging around, sawed off body parts and whatever else is lurking there, just not to give my son nightmares (or myself).  What’s so fun about witches, ghosts, and skeletons?  I know - the candy.

So, when we were actually allowed to celebrate Halloween at my folks’, when they were in their paganism-is-O.K.-for-our-children mood (or when they were less Jewy), they would take my brother and I to Toys ‘R’ Us (for some reason we always bought our costumes there) and let us choose our “unscary” costumes.  I remember I chose Holly Hobbie (this was long before the era of Hannah Montana).  We didn’t have many choices; it was Holly Hobbie or some superhero, and I didn’t want to wear my Underoos (superhero underwear) out in public.  I can’t remember what my brother was that year…probably a superhero.  So, we got our costumes and huge Costco-like sacs o’ candy, enough to feed a small country.

On Halloween night, we would dress up in our costumes and wear them in the comfort of our own home, as we greeted the other children at the door trick or treating.  Even though we were just kids ourselves, we actually had to “work” that night.  We did get to eat our own candy as well, so that was a major perk, without the door-hopping.  My mom’s excuse for not allowing the door-hopping was always, “Why do you have to go begging for candy, I’ll buy you all the candy you want, it’s safer.” 

And the guilt still lingers…thanks, Mom.  Do I let my son “beg” for candy this year?  But, just for the record, my brother and I did trick-or-treat one year.  We lived in a condominium complex and were only allowed to trick or treat at our friends’ homes.  I think that made a total of three.

The following year, the trend of slipping razor blades in childrens’ candy was quite popular, so we were never allowed to trick or treat again.  “But Mom, why would our neighbors put razor blades in our candy?”  I don’t remember her answer, but I am sure she had one.

In spite of all of Mom’s warnings, I took my son trick or treating in the mall last year; he was a little guy and I could dress him anyway I wanted to (this year he chose what he wanted), and it was cute.  It was probably more for me then it was for him.  The whole time there, I couldn’t help but think that Macy’s or the Gap may have put razor blades in my son’s candy.  Phew, we were safe.  There weren’t any…last year, anyway.

This year, we are going to a party and I am still pondering the trick or treating at the mall part.  Regardless, I can’t say that I’m really into this holiday.  It is a little too creepy for my taste…or maybe that is just the way I was programmed.

And just today, my mom asked if I am going to take my son trick or treating.  I told her I was still unsure.  She responded, “Why does he have to run around for candy?  I’ll just bring him some.”  The quote may have changed, but the sentiment stayed the same.

And I responded, “That’s ok, I already bought him a bag.”

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