By Laura Seymour
The holiday most Jewish organizations do not celebrate (Halloween) is over and if you haven’t gone out to buy your Purim costume at a good price, you are missing the best opportunity. Every year on Oct. 31 we hear false warnings and this year was the same, yet different. Fear is in the air and it even affected trick-or-treating. However, kids still love dressing up and adults still love the candy, so the night went on.
Always the one looking for deeper messages (that’s what we do when we read Torah!), I heard and saw the costumes that were the favorites this year. I don’t have all the answers, of course, but the questions lead to great conversations. What is our fascination with scary costumes? There is so much “scary stuff” going on now — does the costume help us feel that we have some control or maybe help us laugh or even worry less about the “real stuff” going on? Does dressing up like a princess take us to another place and time? And my favorites are the superhero costumes which help us imagine we are brave and can save the world. Are we hoping that the costume gives us the powers?
The creation of comic books and superheroes is filled with Jewish “heroes” or rather non-heroes, regular guys looking for someone to come and save the day. The origin stories of most of the superheroes are fascinating and creative but the real story is our need for these heroes. That need continues today and we really need a superhero or two (or more) to come and help the world. Preschoolers love the costumes, older children love the movies (very few read comic books today) but it is our adult interest and need for Captain America to return to fight the Nazis as he did in World War II that we are all feeling today. Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and so many more knew what was needed to inspire the world to stand up. Today we need to be the superhero — we cannot wait for Superman to take off his glasses and come to save us. Having a costume helps with the transformation and a shield gives us a sense of being protected. Maybe it is enough to wear our Star of David proudly? Just know we have a history of superheroes from the Torah to today — we must find the strength inside to do our part.
Laura Seymour is Jewish experiential learning director and camp director emeritus at the Aaron Family JCC.