A Black & White Halloween Shabbat Tablescape
Let me start by saying that the whole “Halloween Shabbat” thing was never part of the plan.
I never actually intended to dress up my table in black and white.
I was never going to bake a googly-eyed challah (!).
I had no intention of placing teeny witches brooms all around my apartment or draping a “challah-ween” banner on the empty wall or whipping up a batch of pumpkin hummus.
But I have learned that one does not choose the haunted Shabbat life. The haunted Shabbat life chooses you. And once it does, you kinda just have to go with it.
Still, my initial reservations had nothing to do with Halloween being a “pagan holiday”—an argument, by the way, that I’m not even sure makes sense with modern context.
I just didn’t see it as a particularly Jewish one, so it wasn’t really on my radar as I began mapping out blog content for the fall.
…until, that is, I watched the new Fiddler on the Roof documentary back in August (highly recommend, by the way) and was reminded of the MOST EXTRAVAGANT / HILARIOUS / TOE-TAPPING HALLOWEEN-ISH SCENE OF ALL TIME: Tevye’s dream.
You’re familiar, I hope.
Basically, Tevye wakes Golde up with a completely fabricated dream involving a purple-tinted graveyard and a whole lot of fake spiderweb action, and every last one of their dead family members comes to party, and, of course, toward the middle of the number, Lazar Wolfe’s dead ex-wife Fruma Sarah arrives by, uh, popping out of a BED OF DEAD LEAVES while wailing like a banshee, and, oh yeah, she’s dressed as the most stereotypical depiction of a ghost you’ve ever SEEN, and it’s just a wild ride all the way through.
Fruma. Sarah. Who could forget?
Apparently, I could.
The point is, all of this popping-out-of-dead-leaves business goes down in Fiddler on the ROOF!
Which is based on Tevye and his Daughters by none other than Sholem Aleichem!!
Who, I might add, wrote the tale in the late 19th century!!!!
So. C’mon now.
Thus, the Halloween shabbat was born out of the idea that if Sheldon Harnick, Sholem Aleichem, and Tevye himself could all agree that ghosts are fair game, so could I.
No, Halloween and Shabbat don’t actually overlap this year; October 31 falls on a Thursday. But next year they will!
And anyway, you can totally host a Halloween-themed Shabbat on the first of November this year. In fact, I recommend it. I can’t think of a more fun way to get your kids excited about sitting down at the table on Friday night than with a few candy eyes and spiderweb-inspired black and white cookies.
As for the nay-sayers out there…
It might be time for your next Fiddler viewing.
Halloween Shabbat Decor Ideas
Black and white is a sophisticated alternative
to all that orange you typically see.
I’ll admit that I’m just not a huge fan of the color orange in general, but I grow especially tired of it around Halloween time. It’s everywhere, for starters. It’s also glaring, bright, and loud, which isn’t really my style—both when I’m entertaining and more generally, with my apartment decor. A black and white color scheme rids you of all that excess color.
But more importantly, when you tone down the crazy colors, you’re giving yourself a chance to re-use anything you buy specifically for the event. Would I re-use orange napkins? Probably not. Will I re-use the black ones you see here? Yeah!! I can even see myself using that black runner again for a dinner party later in the season.
You can even see a bit of my black-and-white rug in the corner of some of these photos…clearly, I’m alllll about this look. 😂
While you’re at it…Opt for black candles!
This is such an easy idea, but has such a huge visual impact. I actually took a few minutes to add plastic spiders to mine, which you can read all about in my DIY Halloween Shabbat Candles post.
Add Halloween-inspired matches.
It’s all about the little details! Particularly if you’ve got kids involved. I’m sure they’d be excited to use new, themed matches for the occasion (with your help and watchful supervision, of course!). I’ve had these owl matchboxes for a few months now, and only realized as I was setting the table that they fit beautifully with the whole Halloween theme. Worked perfectly! Cute and spooky.
Signage, signage, signage!
I’m bummed I didn’t get a chance to print a few menus for this dinner, nor did I put out any little explanatory signs next to each dish. I was planning on it, actually, and just sort of ran out of time at the last minute. But that would’ve been a fun way to highlight all the puns within the menu (the “egg s-creams” in particular could have benefitted)!
Still, I did throw together the banner you see on the wall behind the table using this and just a few pieces of tape. Easy! It just helps to bring together the entire theme and “wow” your guests as soon as they step in the door.
Grab a few white pumpkins at the grocery store.
Whole Foods is full of them right now—you can find them at the entrance of most stores, or in whatever section you normally find plants and flowers—but I’m pretty sure you can find them at just about any supermarket or grocery store in early autumn. That’s true on the east coast, at least. It’s just another way to keep things un-orange.