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Why Halloween rocks in Israel

Trick-or-treat night went from being a fabulously fun excuse to dress up like Madonna circa 1984 to being a big fat pain in my butt -- until I made aliya

I had a better blog post planned.

It was about Hurricane Sandy. And fear and acceptance. About climate change and transition.

It was going to be a doozy.

But I got smacked with a doozy of my own — first a bad cold. And then a migraine.

'Screw the environment. This hurts like hell.'
‘Screw the environment. This hurts like hell.’ (headache image via Shutterstock)

So instead, I bring you Halloween in Israel.

My Israeli friends are laughing right now because they get the joke.

Most of my American friends don’t.

Honey, in Israel, there ain’t no Halloween.

No candy corn. No Milky Ways. No Target-bought costumes that smell like plastic. No cozy life-sized polyester teddy bears from Old Navy or Land’s End. No homemade Raggedy Ann dresses that make me feel like the worst mother in the world because my kid is sweating bullets underneath polyester or plastic.

Nope. No Halloween.

No plastic pumpkins or recycled sustainable reusable bags filled with candy… and a handful of pennies. No wooden doors with brass handles to knock. No darkened streets to avoid.

Nope. No Halloween.

And the truth is — I don’t know why.

It’s something Jewish.

I could Google it. But so could you.

Okay, fine. Here.

Just kidding. Here.

It has to do with something about paganism and worshiping graven images. But for me to give you more specifics than that, I would have to go look up what graven means.

Instead, I will tell you a secret.

I only miss Halloween a teency weency bit. Hardly at all.

Because somewhere after I started having kids, I became a Halloween Grinch. A scrooge. A buzz-kill.

Halloween went from being a fabulously fun excuse to dress up like Madonna circa 1984 (a photo I’d show you if it weren’t at the bottom of a trunk in my mom’s basement in New Jersey, which I hope and pray is still dry) to being a big fat pain in my butt.

When I became a mom, Halloween became yet another item on my to-do list. I always wanted to do something extraordinarily creative for my kids, but as working mom, I never felt like I had the time and energy to put into making the holiday as fun and special as I would have liked. You know: Styrofoam tombstones lining the driveway; homemade orange-frosted cupcakes with gummy worms baked into the center.

As a mom, Halloween made me feel kinda like a failure.

Then my son developed a nut allergy, and Halloween became yet one more national holiday in which I had to worry about his safety and he had to feel like an outsider.

Finally, when I got more wise to wellness, Halloween turned into just one more reason for you not to like me. I got annoyed with all the attention put into a holiday which was no longer special, now that kids suck down Hawaiian Punch every day of the year, not just October 31. I became the crazy mom who rationed her kids’ booty.

Living in Israel, surprisingly, allows me to once more appreciate Halloween.

I don’t have to compete with any Super Moms. At least, not until Purim.

I don’t have to worry (today) about my son’s friends plucking from his sack and peeling open a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup before he gets back to his own house.

I don’t have to remind my kids of their very low tolerance for junk. And how that low tolerance often translates into vomit. That I have to clean up.

(Dear God, please no vomit. The migraine is enough.)

Instead, I get to surprise my kids.

With a yummy homemade cake.

And some funny signs.

And put on a wig, or some fake nails, before I greet them at the door today.

Be the mom who remembered Halloween.

And feel for a minute like a mom… who is… extraordinary.

About the Author
Jen Maidenberg made Aliyah to the Lower Galilee with her family in 2011. A published writer and author, she chronicles her life in prose and poetry at www.andyaddayadda.com