I just looked at the JTNews for the week and read the article about Halloween by Rivy Poupko Kletenik (“A treat that does the trick,” Oct. 19). I have two sons, 21 and 24, and my older son’s birthday is on Halloween. I was supposed to tell him that his birthday was a pagan/religious holiday? No way. What I did was stress that it was a harvest festival, like Sukkot. We often celebrated them together. We have done charitable things for the homeless and the underprivileged. Both my sons spent years attending religious school and have not abandoned their Judaism. I think if I had been more rigid and said “No Halloween,” they would have just rebelled against their identity with Judaism. Halloween is okay. It’s not like Christmas or Easter or St. Valentine’s Day, which we ignored.
We have a family tradition of going to the zoo on Christmas. Do your readers know that zoos everywhere are open every day of the year? You see lots of Jews and Muslims at the zoo on Christmas!
My younger son’s birthday is on Dec. 20, just before that big materialistic holiday. And there was the question one year: “Can we have a tree?” The answer to satisfy that was, “No, you can share your friends’ trees and they can share our Hanukkah candlelighting.”
No problem. I think the less we make of this dilemma, and the more we fill our children’s spaces with great celebrations, the less they miss the “traditional, materialistic” holidays. My sons were not deprived, and never felt that way — and they can say that now that they are young, articulate men.