Purim is NOT the Jewish Halloween!

I’m afraid I have to vent about something.

This year, the Jewish festival of Purim (commemorating and celebrating the events of the biblical book of Esther) falls on Sunday February 24th. If all goes well, I will be in Israel then and for the first time (hopefully) will avoid the subject matter of this blog post.

megillas-esther(A Scroll of Esther)

Many non-Jews, in an attempt to wrap their well-meaning minds around Jewish concepts, ideas, holidays, customs, food, themes, etc., often try to compare or connect them to things with which they are familiar.

“OK, now… Hanukah. That’s like the Jewish Christmas, right?”

“Mezuzahs? Those are good luck amulet things on your doors, right?”

i-am-not-a-jew(Yeah, I kinda figured that one out on my own)

“Passover… is that the one where you sit around eating crackers for a week?”

G-d bless their little cotton socks. This is normal. This is to be expected.

This is also a bit tedious yet kinda tiresome, usually. In a way.  Well… it depends, really.

I’ll try to explain.

In the interests of multiculturalism and understanding (not to mention peace and love) between ethnic groups, I try to be sort of an ambassador for Judaism and the Jewish people, if you will, whenever I can. Most people who ask questions like this above genuinely mean well, generally. They just need a bit of Jewish education. I am happy to help put them in the picture… if for no other reason that to stop even one more person saying that Hanukah is the Jewish Xmas.

If the person is asking a sincere question and wants to know something about Jews and Judaism, believe me, it’s my pleasure. If they are genuinely interested… I am there with both feet.

But… every once in a while, we get the wise guys with their smarmy, smarty pants questions.

pipe-smarmy-grin(“I’m just sayin’… [that I think you’re a moron]!”)

“Why do you spell it ‘G-d?’ Is it because you’re afraid you’re going to hell if you get Him mad? If it’s ’cause you’re not supposed to say His name… umm… you know that G-d isn’t His real name, right?” <insert self-satisfied smirk here>

“Kosher laws were like ancient biblical food health and safety regulations from before you guys had refrigerators, right? So… why do you still do it?” <unsaid: It’s because you’re an idiot who blindly and unquestioningly follows outdated customs, isn’t it?>

“Do you seriously think an ‘almighty deity’ cares if you turn on a light switch or scribble a note on Saturday?” <add raised eyebrow and/or condescending sneer>

These aren’t really questions. These are statements (e.g. “you’re stupid!”) masquerading as questions.

Because they’re not really questions I don’t really answer them. I just give the person the patient sigh and the pressed smile. It’s not all that difficult ignoring the non-questioner. They’re annoying but… that’s all. Just annoying.

I don’t engage with these types of people for the same reason I don’t play chess with pigeons. They knock over the pieces, crap on the board and then strut around like they’ve won the game.

angry-man(Psst… Saying it loudly doesn’t make you right)

And I won’t even get into the whole hostile evangelical questioner thing! [1] [2]

So… bottom line. Purim is not the Jewish Halloween. Hanukah is not the Jewish Xmas. Passover is not the Jewish Easter.  Moses is not the Jewish Jesus. If you want to know the real authentic answer to your questions, as your friendly neighbourhood Orthodox Jew. [3]

In a few days, I will be flying to Israel for two weeks. I’ll let you know if any secular Israelis or born again tourists ask me anything!


[1] The loud, arrogant and downright rude biblethumper who points his finger an inch from your face or chest and says, “You Jews rejected your Messiah!” (No… we rejected YOUR Messiah. BIG difference!)

[2] I had one enthusiastic born-again preacher literally walk over a picnic table and run out to me on a sidewalk in Hot Springs, Arkansas, in order to pick a fight with (aka ‘witness to’) me. I must have stuck out like… well… a Jew walking along the sidewalk in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

[3] NB: ‘Messianics’ or ‘Hebrew Christians’ (e.g. Jews for Jesus) do not practice Judaism. That’s because what they believe in is Christianity. The answer you’ll get from them is basically no different than the one you will get from any other born again evangelical fundamentalist Christian.


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