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Keith Brooks
International Business Executive Living and Working in Israel

Halloween in Israel explains the election

A Facebook post by a US car manufacturer with an R&D site in Israel started my day two days ago about their trick-or-treating at their offices here in Israel.

On the one hand, I could argue they were following a US Human Resources mandate to all their worldwide offices to celebrate the Christian or pagan holiday, depending on how you see the origin. But on the other hand, did not one person in the Israel office let them know that we are a Jewish country, and this is not what we do here?

No one?

I posted in a WhatsApp group of friends here about it, and many said this is how it has been for a few years. Like me, they were upset by it, but as the common phrase said in Israel אין מה לעשות, which in common terms means there is nothing you can do.

I was amazed but understood how they felt. Other people I know also took their kids to a Halloween party here, people who go to our synagogue.

Think about that last line for a minute.

In the US, it is not uncommon to find children of nonobservant Jews trick or treating, and why not? They want to be like everyone else. It is hard to fit in when one is Jewish in the Diaspora, but why is it hard to fit in as a Jew in Israel?

If you asked any olim who have come from any country of the world if they moved to Israel to celebrate the goyish holidays, they would look at you like you are from mars.

And yet, here we are.

Thanks for the current situation goes to the country’s founders, that decided that the Law of Return worked for all Jews. The Law of Return defines someone with at least one Jewish grandparent and their spouse as having the right to relocate to Israel and acquire citizenship, which is contrary to the halachic viewpoint.

Globally, we have reached an era of the individual. Every man, or woman, is for themselves, and this does not work for religions. Religions worldwide need help keeping people involved, especially since COVID.

I understand that the nonreligious Israeli crowd sometimes goes out of their way because they want to be like every other country. They want to be known as Israeli, like people from different countries who are just called French, Germans, or Americans, anything but Jewish. As if this will stop people from being antisemitic to them. To use another local phrase, Who lives in the movies now?

Thanks to their idealism, which is the opposite of Zionism, or at least the Cultural Zionism ציונות רוחנית that Achad Ha’am had proposed, they conveniently ignore our collective Jewish history. If they think this is what it means, they should think again. He was trying to shape a Jewish cultural state that was Jewish, albeit without the religious part. I seriously doubt he was trying to make us all Christians or pagans.

With the elections done, some of you are bothered by the fact that Itamar Ben Gvir’s party gained many seats in the Knesset. Is there a correlation between the two? Maybe there is, and only time will tell how this plays out.

The whole Halloween thing in Israel is still bewildering to me. Still, maybe it is just ignorance, like how Israelis will use curse words in everyday discussions because the on-screen translations make it sound like they are just alternative euphemisms.

I don’t think Halloween is lost in translation.

About the Author
Keith Brooks made Aliyah in 2014 with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog. Keith writes about his Aliyah, Israel and Jewish life in general. Keith advises B2B companies on how to approach their potential clients regarding pricing, marketing and sales pitches. Keith is a MassChallenge Israel mentor, an HCL Master and an IBM Champion.
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