Friday, October 28, 2005

Conservative 'Rabbis' on Halloween

Jewish Ledger asked a few Conservative 'Rabbis' if jews should take part in Halloween:

'Rabbi' Robert L. Tobin The Conservative Synagogue:

...Halloween has become one of the most colorful and friendly of American communal observances. Personally, I am more than a little uncomfortable with my family directly celebrating it, because of its pagan origin and the abundance of violent and ghoulish costumes and designs. On the other hand, it is one of the last moments in American neighborhood life when families walk out across their lawns to see the neighbors, instead of driving out of the driveway towards their own private pursuits...

'Rabbi' James Rosen, Beth El Temple, West Hartford(Conservative):

...A better path: emphasize Purim to be sure. Yet, come each Halloween let children gather in their favorite costumes, play games and raise money for a much needed children's charity. Keep out the witches, gremlins and the candy -- they teach nothing positive. Fun and tzedakah are always a winning combination

'Rabbi' Daniel J. Satlow, Congregation Beth ElFairfield(Conservative) :

Yes, please participate in Halloween with a joyful heart and a clear conscience.
First of all, for whatever its pagan origins, Halloween has no religious message today that any average person thinks of consciously. And even if it once did many centuries ago, Jews borrowed lots of rituals from the Romans (such as reclining during the Passover seder), and no one seems to mind their tainted roots today.
Second of all, we do not want to teach our young children that Judaism is frivolously punitive. There are enough restrictions in our tradition that we observe for good reasons; as Rambam said, are these not enough? And if the complaint is spoils our kids or teaches gluttony then you would have to levy the same accusation against virtually every other Jewish holiday as well.
Finally, as Hillel taught in Pirkei Avot (2:5): Do not withdraw from the community....

Is Hillel referring to non jews?

With the varied approaches, I wonder what is the Jewish Theological Seminary's opinion.
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 12:23 PM

3 Comments:

Blogger BrooklynWolf said...

I'm kind of curious if Rabbi Satlow also has a Christmas tree for the same reasons...

The Wolf

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's probably more efficient to be a Christian than a Conservative Jew.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stopped celebrating halloween when someone Jewish I know says they have a christmas tree at christmas because there's nothing religious about it. And you know what? I feel like the grinch who stole halloween, as I am the only person (jewish, orthodox or not, or not-jewish) that does not celebrate it. So I keep my opinions to myself.

I remember when I was in Hebrew school and our Israeli Hebrew teacher asked us kids if we thought she should take her kids out for Halloween and I remember saying "definitely". I wish I could go back and tell her I was wrong.

Oh and coincidentally Rabbi Satlow used to be the rabbi at one of the shuls in our town and substituted for our hebrew class once or twice.

11:38 PM  

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