Hobby Lobby is under fire from the Jewish community for not carrying Hanukkah decorations or Bar-Mitzvah-related cards.
The outrage began after blogger Ken Berwitz wrote about a Jewish friend’s recent experience in a Marlboro, N.J., Hobby Lobby store. The friend allegedly asked an employee where they kept their Hanukkah goods and Bar-Mitzvah cards. The employee responded, “We don’t cater to you people.”
Angered by the story, Berwitz phoned the Marlboro store and asked if they planned to stock any Hanukkah merchandise. The store representative allegedly said no, they did not, because “Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.” Berwit’s outrage rippled into the blogosphere, where writers questioned whether Hobby Lobby was discriminating.
In a blog post titled, “Is Hobby Lobby Anti-Semitic?” crafter and blogger Abbey Wolin wrote that although she understood a store’s right to stock whatever it wants, “If they want to sell all over the nation then they must include all people within that nation.”
Hobby Lobby responded with a public apology and a promise to re-evaluate what it carries in the future. According to a statement company representatives gave 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.”
But even though its stores don’t stock Jewish holiday items, the Green family has been supportive of Jewish causes. Hobby Lobby CEO David Green unveiled the world’s oldest Jewish prayer book last week. The Jewish Daily Forward wrote that the tattered volume is likely hundreds of years older than the oldest known Torah scrolls. In Green’s apology to the outcry over Jewish-themed merchandise, he said he is a “proud contributor” to holocaust museum Yad Vashem, in Israel, and other museums and synagogues.
“Our family has a deep respect for the Jewish faith and those who hold its traditions dear,” he said.
He said the company does “not tolerate discrimination” and apologized for “any employee comments that may have offended anyone, especially our Jewish customers and friends. Comments like these do not reflect the feelings of our family or Hobby Lobby.”
Green went on to say that the stores once carried Jewish-related merchandise but the company bases its selections on customer demand.