Is it possible to move to the Jewish State and feel less Jewish?
Yes. Yes, it is.
Even when you’re acting a lot more Jewish than you did when you lived in the Non-Jewish Jewish state. (Not, no the Vatican. New Jersey.)
Even though I moved to Israel and live in a community that is considered (by secular and pluralistic Jews here, at least) to be religious, I still often feel as goyish as a ham sandwich on white.
Take my Halloween post on the Times of Israel yesterday, for instance.
Of course, I knew I might ruffle a feather or two. Religious Jews don’t celebrate Halloween, not even in America. And I knew the Times of Israel attracts readers that tend to be a little on the, let’s just say, fervent side.
But I didn’t expect the commenters to go all Esmerelda on me.
On the one hand, I’m curious about it. In the same way I might be curious about a colorful school of clownfish swimming in a tank at the pet store.
I knew that observant Jews in America didn’t let their kids participate in Halloween festivities, though I never really understood why. Not the historical reason why; but the “why is it still relevant today” kinda why.
Halloween in America today is far, far away from idol worshipping. Unless, of course, you consider Smarties to be idolic. Why be so vigilant about keeping your kids off the streets and out of costume on October 31?
But of course, I fall into the camp that thinks kashrut as a means of humane slaughter is also outdated…especially when you take into consideration inhumane mass slaughterhouses like agriprocessor. Tells you what kind of Jew I am, and also shows you very clearly my stand on taking a more modern approach to tradition.
Yikes! I just wanted my kids to enjoy some cake and candy. I just wanted them be amused and impressed by my polished witch cackle.
Heck, I just wanted a reason to be able to work my polished witch cackle into a sentence.
Is that so wrong?
Look: Halloween has nothing to do with my “traditions or values or way of life.”
Kids get dressed up and go beg for candy. When they get older, they throw eggs at my house.
Who would claim that this “holiday” has anything to do with their “traditions or values or way of life?”
Not even satan worshippers or pagans, I imagine.
And yet, somehow in her tone, this commenter implies that by recognizing a secularized American tradition I am somehow passing on bad values to my Jewish children. My Jewish children who go to Beit Knesset every Friday night for kabbalat Shabbat; my children who go to a Tali school and learn Tanakh; my children who — during play amongst themselves — will sometimes sit on the couch and daven with their dolls.
I’m not kidding.
I have video to prove it.
Maybe, the commenter is right. Maybe someday my kids will grow up to be idol worshipping pagans who dance naked in the moonlight at Stonehenge.
Personally, I think Halloween is more likely to turn kids into toothless fat old people than pagans.
And dancing naked in the moonlight at Stonehenge? Sounds fun.
But then again, I’m that kinda Jew.
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/
She first posted this blog on 10.31.12.