Why do we give out candy? Becky does it to be neighborly. I suspect she would love it if we could actually take Aaron trick or treating, as she would love to get him dressed in costumes. I, in my usual crumdgeonly way, grouse that giving out candy only encourages dependencies and cavities and that instead of candy we should give out something more useful -- perhaps a form for commenting to the FCC on the digital television transition. (Harold's Halloween Costume -- Big black piece of fabric with white spots "I'm your analog TV after the "hard give back date" of April 1, 2009 (Senate version)).
But my friend Greg asked me why we give out candy at all. Isn't it participation in a pagan or Christian practice, and thus contrary to our religion?
For which I had two answers. First, the kids marching up and down the street are not terribly interested in religious ritual. It is, as John Stewart observed, the worship of Nestle and Hershey. whatever religious context existed for Halloween disappeared a long time ago. thosefollowing a religious impulse, either pagan or christian, are either at mass or dancing naked or something.
[O.K., then, why not let Aaron trick or treat? Mere peer pressure from the Orthodox community).
The other answer, somewhat facetious but somewhat serious, is this. After 1935 years of persecution in Europe, the instinct not to piss off one's neighbors where one can help it runs pretty deep. A generation or two ago, Jewish parents dressed their children in dress up clothes on Sunday so they would not stand out or give offense to Christians on their Sabbath. Or, as I said to Becky "our tradition is to give them candy and hope they won't egg our house anyway."
Occassionally I wonder if we will produce a generation that does not feel the impact of centuries of persecution. At the same time, I encounter enough random antisemetism in my life to make sure _I_ will never forget my oppressed minority roots.