01 November 2017

Balancing our Secular Lives and our Religious Lives

Written by Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

This year Halloween fell on a cold and snow-flurry filled evening. But despite the cold, many of us celebrated in our own ways. Some went out Trick-or-Treating while others of us opened the door to greet children dressed as fairies, witches, transformers, superheroes, and more. As I opened the door to hand out candy, I found myself thinking about what it means to be Jewish and still go trick-or-treating. Many people have asked if its “ok” for Jews to celebrate Halloween. As with everything else, I explain that this is a matter of personal choice. For many American Jews, Halloween is a secular holiday – a fun filled evening spent with friends and fun costumes. But it once again reminded me about this delicate balance we always seek to strike between our secular lives and our religious lives. Each and every day, we navigate that road – how do we live our lives as Jews, and how do we live our lives as part of the wider American culture? Many times these two pieces of our identities overlap and intersect, but other times, we find places where they diverge. Sometimes Jewish holidays fall on work days, sometimes our children’s sporting events fall on Shabbat. How do we choose? The truth is, there is no one “right” answer. Each of us has to find those answers within ourselves as we consider what is best for our families. But at the end of the day, I think it is important to remind one another that there are many, many “right” ways to be Jewish.

About the Author

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Berezin - Assistant Rabbi

Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. For the past two years, she has served as the Rabbi Educator at Central Reform Congregation, a vibrant congregation of 780 households in the city of St. Louis. Rabbi Berezin attended HUC-JIR in Los Angeles. She earned a Master of Arts in Jewish Education and was ordained in May of 2014. In addition to student pulpits at Temple Beth Torah, Temple Beth Shalom, Beth Knesset Bamidbar, and at the China Lake Naval Air and Weapons Station, Rabbi Berezin served as the Harold M. Schulweis Rabbinic Intern at Jewish World Watch, an organization that promotes education, advocacy and action around issues of genocide and mass atrocities. She had a second rabbinic internship at Our House Grief Support Center, providing pastoral care to both children and adults. Prior to her enrollment in rabbinic school, Rabbi Berezin attended Indiana University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies and a double minor in Hebrew and Psychology. Rabbi Berezin married Jared Berezin in 2016.

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