Monday, September 30, 2013

Is Hobby Lobby Anti-Semitic?

Yesterday, I was perusing my Facebook timeline when I noticed that a friend of mine had shared a status about Hobby Lobby written by Larry Tepper.

You can read the full status here, but in a nutshell Larry explains that when his friends visited the Marlboro Hobby Lobby store in New Jersey they were told that they would not be stocking any Chanukah (Hanukkah) items because the store did not cater to "You People." and when Larry called the Marlboro store himself he was told verbatim "Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he's a Christian, and those are his values."

UPDATE: After some careful research it seems that the original post came from a political blog written by Ken Berwitz  entitled "Hopelessly Partisan."

Since then it's started to create a buzz. All over the Hobby Lobby facebook page people are wondering what's the deal? Is Hobby Lobby anti-Semitic? And it's not just Facebook it's on Etsy too. Crafters all over are taking a stand for and against Hobby Lobby's decision to carry Hanukkah items.

Being the ever questioning Jew, I decided to call the corporate offices of Hobby Lobby this morning myself. I wanted to know what their official stance or take was. I first spoke to a very nice man who then transferred me to the Customer Service center - I think I might have taken him a little by surprise.

The next man I spoke to explained in his very thick Southern drawl that Hobby Lobby used to carry Hanukkah items, but they were selling poorly on a National level and so they pulled the items from their shelves and they are no longer carrying any Hanukkah items. I then asked him, if that's the truth, then why did the Marlboro store say that it was the Christian values of Mr. Green that Hobby Lobby doesn't cater to the Jewish crowd. He told me that they are “looking into it.”


So here's what I'm wondering....
Is this a prepared statement from Hobby Lobby or the truth?
Was the Marlboro store telling the truth or assuming something of the corporate office?
Did in fact Hobby Lobby carry Hanukkah items in the past?

Here's what I know....
- David Green (The founder of Hobby Lobby) is listed on Forbes with a net worth of $5 Billion as of September 2013.
- The Green's own the largest collection of ancient Bibles and religious artifacts in the world. They have just purchased the earliest Jewish Prayer book dating back to the 9th century.
- Mr. Green has built his company on biblical principles and puts families first. Their store is not open on Sundays the Christian day of rest.
-Hobby Lobby has been front and center in the news recently for their stance on Obamacare and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because of its inclusion of the provision allowing access to the morning after pill. Listed on the brief are a few Jewish Organizations including Hadassah.
- Mart Green (David Green's son) supports the accusation that Israel is racist.

The bigger issue becomes...
How important is the Jewish market within the craft world?

I sometimes feel like the only Orthodox Jewish crafter out there.
Last January when I went to the Craft and Hobby Association Trade Show, I felt like the odd man out. Over and over again I met crafting companies that took one look and me and said, "Jews don't craft" - "There aren't any Jewish crafters."

Between launching the FIRST EVER Jewish crafting magazine jCreate  and crafting up a storm with Not 2 Shabbey, or filming crafting videos with  I am trying to get the word out that - we Jews LOVE to create!!

- We are a large community - 1.54 million Jews in NYC alone!
- Spread throughout the US - 6.5 million Jews coast to coast
- Affluent consumer with the time and money to invest in projects.
- Heavily populated, tight knit communities hold great word of mouth power.
- We are a niche group of stay at home moms, educators, homeschooling parents, or moms with small children.
- There's always a reason to craft! Holidays (almost every month), learning the weekly Torah portion, Celebrations (births, weddings, Bar/Bat Mitvahs)
- The Jewish mom is always looking to buy new products and share the info with her friends. Her purchasing power is mighty.
- Since many Orthodox Jews don't have TV or other electronic entertainment, crafting is a big activity that we turn to. At almost every birthday party my kids go to or host, they do a craft as the main activity. 

We are pretty important.
Hobby Lobby and other crafting retailers and manufacturers should start to take notice.

Here's the deal.
Some people argue that it's their right to not carry Jewish items. Why should they? It's their store.... let them do what they want. If this was a mom and pop shop I would agree with them. There are many local craft and gift stores that only sell Christmas related items and there are Judaica stores that only sell Jewish related items. However Hobby Lobby is a craft store that sells nationwide. If they want to sell all over the nation then they must include all people within that nation. What would happen if they only sold stickers of white children? Believe me; we would be having a completely different conversation.

I don’t think that the company should go out of business, selling items that no one wants to buy. If you look at the facts or if you read Larry's original facebook post you would know that 1/3 of the population near the Marlboro store is Jewish. If Hobby Lobby was unsuccessful in the past selling Judaica items, it might behoove them now to start carrying Hanukkah items in areas near Jewish communities.
Do I think that the founder David Green is anti-Semitic? I'm not sure.
I know that you can't control the people that you hire. The workers they attract are strong in their Christian faith. Could the Marlboro store alone be anti-Semitic? Sure. Are they reflecting the ideas of the corporate offices? Maybe, but not definitely.

As Rabbi Don Weber writes in his blog post  "The same freedom that allows Hobby Lobby to ignore Jewish interests also allows us to ignore Hobby Lobby. OUR freedom includes the right to vote with our feet, and with our money. Why support a company that doesn't want our business?"

What I do know is that that this type of behavior is very dangerous.
Their anti-Semitic language is offensive.
The "You People" phrase is ignorant and insulting.

A Facebook friend commented yesterday.....
"I'm glad we live in a country where businessess are free to choose what they will or will not sell, and where customers are free to complain, boycott, publicize, or otherwise "lobby" for a change." 

And it seems for now Hobby Lobby is backing down and considering stocking Jewish Holiday decorations. The internet is a powerful tool. 

I just don't understand how someone so deeply rooted in their Christian faith could neglect to realize how much their religion is rooted in Judaism. Wasn't Jesus a Jew?


Sunday, September 29, 2013

1 Year Later

This past Simchat Torah my family and I marked the first anniversary of our new life together. It sounds kind of strange to say that, but it's true.

We are living a completely different life then we did last year.

My hubs has a new job.
My immediate families dynamic has changed since my step fathers passing.
My children are growing bigger and more independent every day.
I launched jCreate this past May and I am no longer teaching, but focusing on Not 2 Shabbey full time.

I remember crying and lying in the bed at the hotel room.
I knew, deep down that this was all a good thing and that everything would be fine in the end.
But I was mourning the loss of what had happened.
Of losing my old life in a blink of a moment.
I wasn't given any warning.
I came home to find my home destroyed
And a new life waiting for me.

We spent the holidays in a house we moved into less then 2 months ago.
Base boards still need to be finished.
Tiling still need to be put down and grouted.
Painting and sheet rocking are still not complete.
But we are home and that's all that matters for now.

My house is beautiful and my husband and I stand in the kitchen on most nights thanking God for this blessing in disguise wondering outloud...."Is this really our home?" We are just so thankful to be home at last.

This Sukkot, all I wanted was to be home and to feel at home.
Because there was no time to plan
Between shipping orders and painting them
Between kids home and having no school
We decorated our Sukkah in all it's "kitschy" glory.
With Christmas lights and colored foil decorations.

The only thing that I wanted this Sukkot was a green top.
I grew up in LA where we always had palm and for the past 8 years since moving to the East Coast I had been looking for green Schach. I saw on Facebook someone advertising that they were selling evergreen schach and I quickly called and reserved my bundles. The night before I was set to go to Brooklyn to get them, I mentioned to my husband before heading to bed that I was going to get them the next morning and I hoped that I had room in the car. He then pointedly said back to me, "Are you trying to relive your father's glory days picking up the schach in his big red truck?"

The famous tale that is told over and over again in my family goes like this.......
My father had a big red truck.
He used to go around before Sukkot getting palm leaves
And delivering them throughout the neighborhood.
One year there weren't any palm leaves to be found.
I'm not sure why, but he went searching and searching all over the city.
He ended up finding a bunch
But only after he had to jump a fence to retrieve the leaves headed for the dump.

I know this doesn't seem like a big deal.
But the story made a lasting impression on my sisters and I.
Bamboo mats were not so prevalent in those days.
I only saw them once I moved to the East Coast.
There would be no sukkah without those palm leaves.
My father had a truck
People needed the leaves
And so he went searching.
Little acts of Chesed - That's what's important in life.
That's what he taught me.

I just wanted to feel safe this Sukkot.
Perhaps I was seeking old memories.
But when I saw that green schach in my Sukkah this year
I was truly very happy.
Though my husband wasn't too happy with me.......
He kept telling me the Sukkah would cave in.
That the ceiling was too heavy.
He had to buy wooden supports....
The lists go on and on.
But you know what?
He did it for me.
Because he knew it would make me happy.
And I love him for that.

I ended the last days of Sukkot with my immediate family.
My brother from Israel came in.
My brother - in - law was here too.
My brother and his newly minted Kallah came as well.
And to top it off my mom spent 3 glorious days with my children.
Not only was it special for my family,
But it was wonderful having them around.

I guess you can say that there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from my experience this past year ........
- Appreciate what you have because you never know when it will be gone.
- The most important things in life are the items that can't be bought -

But the one lesson that I learned long ago - the one that I live by everyday is....
You don't get 2 lives,
You don't get 3 lives.
You only get one life to live.
So you better make it good.
Don't live in sadness.
Don't look back.
Stop crying and do something with your life.
Because all of your experiences.
Everything that happens to you is for a reason
And makes you stronger.

Till next time,

Monday, September 23, 2013

DIY Flower Arrangements

It is a familiar sight to see men bringing home a bouquet of flowers before Shabbos, or women purchasing them at the super market when they do their weekly shopping. Fresh flowers are a staple in most Jewish homes on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

My dining room is the first thing you walk into when you come into my home. It can be a little awkward, so I have tried to create a very homey ambiance. I always try to have a nice fresh vase of flowers sitting on my dining room table. I also have fresh flowers in my bedroom and powder bathroom off the kitchen. 
Flowers make me happy.
Just looking at them lifts my day!
They are so so pretty.
Every week I buy whatever is available to me and the least expensive at the store. 

I am very particular about my flowers. 
- How I like to arrange them 
- How I want them to be arranged by someone else
- The colors that are used
- The size and dimension of the bouquet 
-The fullness of the flowers
All of these things come to play when I am putting together my flowers for my table. 

Please note:
I am not a florist, nor do I claim to be.
I'm just a creative junky that has learned these tricks and tip on my own. 
I could be offering you the totally wrong advice, but it works for me :) 
So read on at your discretion.....

Here are some simple tips to make arraigning your own flowers a little easier...

#1 - Choose a vase that works for you. 
I personally like low vases. I do not like tall ones. The ONLY time I will ever use a tall one is if there are smaller vases flanking on either side of  the larger one.

Mason jars make fantastic vases. Use 3 of them in a row, or get larger fatter ones and just use 2.

#2 - Cover the outside or inside of your vase so you can't see the stems. 
- The easiest way to get an opaque vase is to paint them. I painted all of my mason jars and distressed them. That simple tutorial can be found here.
- You can also wrap burlap around your vase and tie it with some raffia.
- Fill up a hurricane vase with apples and hide the stem inside them.
- Wrap very large leaves around the edge on the inside of the vase. Then add your flowers.
Photo Credit : jCreate Magazine
Papaya Events - Chana Blumes Photography 

- One of my favorite things to do is to fill up a vase with pebbles or coffee beans. Watch the video below - It's soo easy! 

#3 - Choose a variety of flowers in the same color family.
That means they are in the same shades and hues. You can add a pop of a complementary color to add dimension.
Photo Credit : jCreate Magazine
Papaya Events - Shayna Punim Photography 

#4 - Use a variety of heights to add shape to your tablescape. 
If you are planning on having a few different vases on your table then I recommend them being a variety of sizes and heights. It will add a beautiful dimension to your overall tablescape.

Photo Credit : jCreate Magazine
Papaya Events Chana Blumes Photography

Photo Credit : jCreate Magazine
Papaya Events- Shayna Punim Photography

If you are planning on just having one vase in the center of your table then add some height inside of the vase by using some taller flowers or vines. I used eucalyptus leaves in mine, but myrtle can work too.  

#5- Make your arrangement look full and lush
You want your vase to look full NOT overcrowded. The trick is to buy a couple flowers that will give you the right coverage. I LOVE hydrangeas. They are my favorite. I will usually buy 3 stems along with another bunch of flowers like the Peruvian Lilies pictured above. 

#6 - Treat Your Flowers Well
I cut my stems every other day and change the water adding some of the flower food powder that they give you. I find that my flowers last a full week till I go to the grocery store again to buy new ones. 

#7 - Find Flowers on a Budget
The best place to find flowers on a serious budget is Trader Joes. They bring in fresh flowers daily and they are always the gorgeous and lush. I can get 3 stems of hydrangeas for $5.99 and bunches of other flowers from $3.99 to $4.99. Bunches of roses are normally $7.99 

My other favorite place to go is Fairway. Although they are a bit more expensive, not much more, they always have a good selection and their flowers always last longest. 

If you don't live near any of these stores, I would recommend you find a place locally that sells fresh flowers, life a florist or farmers market. Make really good relationships with the owners. The more you come by their store the more they will get to know you and your needs. If I don't have time to make my own flowers I always head out to Papaya Events, my local flower shop in Passaic. Devorah can always make me the most  beautiful arrangements on my budget. Not only does she work locally, but she does event planning and floral designing throughout the tri-state area. I highly recommend them for your Simcha needs. 

I hope these tips not only come in handy this week with the holiday coming, but adding color and beauty to your weekly Shabbos tables! 

Till next time!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sukkot - Simchat Torah Edible Crafts

You asked for it.......... So here it is! 

There is nothing better in this world then crafting with your kids! 
Here are (3) Edible craft ideas that are great for little hands to make as well as eat!

#1 - Torah Winkies

All you have to do is print the labels by clicking here. Cut them out and attach around 2 winkies. So perfect for the kids to pass out to their friends in Shul (Synagogue). 

#2 - Torah Barakas - Potato Pockets 

#3 Torah Apple Pie - 
Pretty Simple. Just cookie cut pie dough int he shape of torahs and lay them on top of your apple mixture. Yum-o! Enjoy! 

Hope you get inspired to make these delicious kid friendly treats! 
Please share with me your edible creations, I would love to see how they come out :) 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Rosh Hashanah Project Round -UP

I thought it would be great to include a nice selection of Rosh Hashanah projects going around the blogosphere. I think you guys will love......

#1 - Hand Painted Lace Jar
Check out the full tutorial at Joy of Kosher 
#2 - Hand Painted Apple Napkins 
See the full tutorial at Busy in Brooklyn 
#3 - Sweet Honey & Cake Jars 

See the full tutorial at Chana's Art Room 
#4 - jCreate Magazine 
The latest issue of jCreate Magazine has a crazy amount of Rosh Hashanah crafts and projects for you and your children to make! To see all the go to

#5- Color and Cut Rosh Hashanah Mobile

Scribble Town 

#6 - Free Rosh Hashanah Placecards
Download them FREE at The Bold Edge

#7 - Rosh Hashanah Mobile 
From the Jewish Homeschool Blog
#8 - Loads of Preschool Crafts at Challah Crumbs
Add caption
#9- is the best place to get lesson plans for Rosh Hashanah just check out this link 

#10 - Check out my latest videos with and how to make these awesome hand painted ceramic honey plates and bowls using the latest in Martha Stewart paints.

Visit Jewish.TV for more Jewish videos.

Hope these help you create lasting memories this Rosh Hashanah season!