Hobby Lobby To Jews: We Don’t Cater To You People

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hobby_lobbyChanukkah comes early this year. But it apparently never comes to Hobby Lobby.

The national craft store owned by conservative billionaire Steve Green seemingly refuses to carry merchandise related to Chanukkah because of Green’s “Christian values,” and some Jews are taking offense.

“I will never set foot in a Hobby Lobby. Ever.” wrote Ken Berwitz, the New Jersey blogger who brought the Hobby Lobby Hanukkah flap to light in a Friday (Sept. 27) blog post.

Berwitz’s outrage has spread to other bloggers who are taking Hobby Lobby to task as a store that courts the general public, but refuses to stock anything related to Judaism — even in communities with significant Jewish populations.

“If they want to sell all over the nation then they must include all people within that nation,” wrote a Jewish visual artist named Abbey on a blog post entitled “Is Hobby Lobby Anti-Semitic?”

In response to questions about its lack of Hanukkah items — no paper dreidels, menorah-making kits, greeting cards — Hobby Lobby emailed the following statement to Religion News Service:

“Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is currently working with our buyers over our merchandise selection. Our customers have brought this to our attention and we are currently evaluating our Holiday items and what we will carry in the future.”

Green owns more than 550 Hobby Lobby stores nationwide, all of which are closed on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath. He is also known for his lawsuit against President Obama’s health care law, which he says tramples on his religious liberty by forcing him to insure employees for medical services he objects to on religious grounds. Many legal experts agree the case has a good chance of landing at the Supreme Court.

He’s also known for holding one of the country’s largest collections of ancient biblical artifacts, including what’s believed to be the oldest known copy of a Hebrew prayer book. In unveiling the book on Thursday, Green dated the item to 840 C.E., declining to use the more Christian-sounding 840 A.D. so as not to offend Jews.

The Hobby Lobby Hanukkah controversy began when Berwitz learned that on a recent shopping trip his wife’s friends could not find anything related to Hanukkah at their local Hobby Lobby store in Marlboro, N.J., though it was stocked with Christmas items.

According to Berwitz, one of the women asked about bar mitzvah cards, and a Hobby Lobby salesperson replied: “We don’t cater to you people.”

That story prompted Berwitz, who own a market research company and writes the “Hopelessly Partisan” blog, to call the Marlboro store and ask why it seemed to be ignoring Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights, which begins on Nov. 27 this year. He wrote that he received the following response:

“Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.”

Berwitz told Religion News Service that he then called Hobby Lobby’s corporate headquarters in Oklahoma City, and the company confirmed that it does not stock items for Hanukkah, and did not give a reason. When he asked whether the company carries Passover merchandise, he was again told no.

“As someone with a great many Christian friends and acquaintances,” Berwitz wrote, “I can honestly say that I don’t know even one who would see the intentional exclusion of Jews as having anything to do with their religious beliefs.”

Rabbi Donald A. Weber of Marlboro’s Temple Rodeph Torah says Hobby Lobby has the right not to stock Hanukkah items, and everybody else has the right not to shop there. His advice for people looking to buy Hanukkah goods: Start with the congregation’s sisterhood group, which sells Judaica.

“Then try any of the local stores which recognize and respect our traditions including, believe it or not, the Christmas Tree Shops in Freehold,” he wrote on the Reform synagogue’s website. “And if you want to buy items that are sold in Hobby Lobby, it’s your choice whether to go there or somewhere else. Personally, I’ll go somewhere else.”

Hobby Lobby’s Vince Parker, who said he “takes the owner’s phone calls and e-mails” at the company, also sent the following to Religion News Service:

“Alleged comments made by employees are currently being investigated and will be addressed accordingly. These comments are in no way indicative of Hobby Lobby culture, the owners and the operators.”

He added: “Marlboro is a great city and has wonderful people and we are blessed to be a part of the community.”

 

(Source: HuffingtonPost.com)




19 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, such nonsense! What happens when they ask why in our stores we don’t sell Christmas goods or other Avodah Zarah pieces?! Watch what we say Am Yisrael! It only comes back to bite us!

  2. Now that I’ve read the article a little more closely, I’m not sure this is a big deal at all. It isn’t clear who said the “those are not his values quote.” Maybe it just isn’t profitable to carry Chanukah items. Considering I’ve lived in Jewish communities all my life, and have never seen or heard of a Hobby Lobby, that’s probably the case.

    As long as the guy didn’t actually say anything anti-semitic, this is stoopid.

  3. Where’s Al Sharpton to lobby for us? If this were a racial issue, there would be deonstrations and boycotts.
    Just don’t shop there and they’ll get the message@

  4. While I understand why a secular Jew would be upset at a Christian-owned store not carrying Jewish items, I don’t see how any Orthodox Jew can be upset. Not one Orthodox Jewish-owned store would ever carry any Christian items, of course for religious reasons.

    Why should we give ourselves more rights than we allow to others?

    If this Christian is guilty of anti-semitism, we are guilty of anti-goyim. And there isn’t any difference between the two.

  5. I don’t understand, why should he be pushed to sell something he doesn’t want to???

    If you want to sell Chanukah stuff open your own store!!!!

    Dosed any one compel a Jew to sell Christian stuff? I hope not!!!

  6. “You People” are forgetting: A Judaica store is just that. It’s not expected to carry items of other denominations. It’s not a generic hobby store, that professes to cater to the “general” public.
    Would you go to a lumber yard to buy a sandwich? Therefore you don’t go to a Judaica store for christian stuff.
    Unless you want to go back to their roots and say that christian was really Jewish……

  7. This isn’t a Christian store; it is a general hobby store.

    And Hobby Lobby’s attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act is despicable.

    That said, this story which has gone viral on the internet is based on a single account. Can anyone go check out the facts by visiting one of their stores?

  8. Yes, it is true that no store MUST carry Jewish items for their Jewish clientele, but as a businessman, I say it makes sense to carry them, since there are Jewish customers everywhere, religious ones and non-religious ones.

    That being said, Amazing Savings Stores, owned and operated by orthodox yidden, carry items for Christmas, Easter, Halloween, etc. They may not carry a tree, but decorations and other items, etc. Also, one of their main suppliers,who use the name Seasonal Greetings, is owned by rabbonim and roshei yeshivas, and they manufacture items for Chanukah, Christmas, and more.

    One last thing, for all those who may be interested, Christmas Tree Shops is owned by Bed, Bath & Beyond.

  9. This is such a non issue. And as rabbi donald from temple rodeph kavod said they have the right not to stock, you have the right to shop elsewhere.

  10. I couldn’t help but remember a joke from my girsa d’yankusa: Remember the white bearded Santa who sat a cute yingele on his lap and asked what he wished for and then whispered in his ear “Nem Tzvei”? It’s all commercialization of religion.

  11. i think its a davar yaduah that Hobby Lobby is a right wing Xtian owned business. I see it no different than the poster above who stated how ridiculous it would be to force Eichlers to carry xmas decorations. (although they already do, I just bought them two weeks ago!!!!)

  12. This man deserves our unequivical support for the law suit against obama care,let’s put aside petty issues andmake a kidush hashem.