Collecting Candy on Halloween

Though many Jewish children go trick-or-treating, this writer (among many others) believes the practice runs counter to Jewish law.

Print this page Print this page

  2)  The conduct of the individuals "celebrating Halloween" can be rationally explained independent of Halloween.

  3)  The pagan origins of Halloween or the Catholic response to it are so deeply hidden that they have disappeared, and the celebrations con be attributed to some secular source or reason.

  4) The activities memorialized by Halloween are actually consistent with the Jewish tradition.

I believe that none of these statements are true.

Conclusions

Applying these halakhic rules to Halloween leads to the conclusion that participation in Halloween celebrations--which is what collecting candy is when one is wearing a costume--is prohibited. Halloween, since it has its origins in a pagan practice, and lacks any overt rational reason for its celebration other than its pagan origins or the Catholic response to it, is governed by the statement of Rabbi Isserles that such conduct is prohibited as its origins taint it. One should not send one's children out to trick or treat on Halloween, or otherwise celebrate the holiday.

The question of whether one can give out candy to people who come to the door is a different one, as there are significant reasons based on darkhei shalom (the ways of peace), eva (the creation of unneeded hatred towards the Jewish people), and other secondary rationales that allow one to distribute candy to people who will be insulted or angry if no candy is given. This is even more so true when the community--Jewish and Gentile--are unaware of the halakhic problems associated with the conduct, and the common practice even within many Jewish communities is to "celebrate" the holiday. Thus, one may give candy to children who come to one's house to "trick or treat" if one feels that this is necessary.

The article above explores many of the most common objections to Halloween. While many rabbis would not state their opposition in as stark a way as Rabbi Broyde does, his opposition to Jews trick-or-treating is not uncommon.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Rabbi Michael Broyde

Rabbi Michael Broyde is an associate professor of law at Emory University and the rabbi of the Young Israel of Toco Hills, Atlanta.