For the last few years, I’ve posted this photo to Facebook to wish people a Happy Halloween (on the Our Jewish Community Facebook page).
And, every year some people love the photo and some people hate it.
This year, a lot of the negative comments about this photo were in Spanish – so that meant relying on my high school Spanish (and Google Translate!).
The comments went something like this:
“One should not participate in the works of Satan. Read the Torah – do not be ignorant.”
“How can one say Shabbat Shalom and relate it to this awful celebration?”
“haloween is paganism. G_d doesn’t like this, it’s not of Him, but false gods.”
“How stupid is that? Anyone who thinks that God is one cannot celebrate this satanic crap [chickenshit?]“
“Shabbat is a holy day! How can they mix it with such an abomination?!”
“This post is an oxymoron.”
“How dare you put together Shabbat Shalom & Halloween!!!??? This is very insulting.”
So, yeah, rather negative.
A few reactions –
1. I don’t participate in the works of Satan. I am fairly certain that most people who celebrate Halloween are not actually into Satan.
2. I do read the Torah. And yet, I do not derive my actions based on any set of “rules” in the Torah. For this, I’ll turn to my favorite YouTube clip from the West Wing. There, the president points out that if one were to live his life according to the Torah, that would mean: selling one’s daughter into slavery is okay, putting people to death who work on Shabbat is required, playing football is prohibited because touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, and planting different crops next to each other is forbidden as is wearing garments of two different kinds of thread. So, yes, I read the Torah, and I celebrate it, and I learn from it. But, no, I do not live my life according to a set of rules outlined in an ancient document.
3. Halloween is not paganism. It’s possible it has pagan roots, as do some Jewish holidays. Holidays, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, morph over time. Halloween may have originated as a celtic holiday, and yes at some point it was incorporated into the Christian calendar. But, today, for me, and I think for most people, Halloween has become completely secular.
4. In response to “G_d doesn’t like this” – I say, that’s pretty audacious of you to think you know what God likes.
5. In response to “anyone who thinks that God is one cannot celebrate [Halloween]” – again, I think you can celebrate it if you see Halloween as secular. And I would add that while some Jews celebrate God as one – there are a variety of God concepts within Judaism – and one can be Jewish even without belief in God.
6. In response to “how dare you…?!” I say: let’s make a deal. I won’t exclaim “how dare you?” about your religious practices if you promise not to about mine. Thanks!
My only complaint about Halloween is: so. much. candy.
Other than that, I think why not celebrate this festive and fun holiday?