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.”

hhhhmmmmmm........

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 Chabad.org  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?


Abbey

26 comments:

  1. i love to craft and half of my packaging is hand made. we need to make a stand and show hobby lobby that we are a population who craft as well.

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  2. To add to your list of reasons to craft - 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.
    Speaking of Jewish crafts, this store has some great kits: http://woodpeckerscrafts.com/index.asp

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  3. Part 2/ Marlboro has a large Jewish population. I think with your "ace investigative" skills, you need to speak David Green. I will post wherever I can if this is truly how he feels, or if it was just an obscene remark from a jerk! If Green is truly anti-Semetic, I will shout it out to the world ( social media is my friend!) & boycott the brand! Tell me what you want me to do. I would like your permission to send this part of your blog to "The Patch", an online news blog that writes specifically for local areas. Please let me know! I have learned lots from you, & yes! We all know Jesus was a Jew!

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  4. I love crafting. I have never heard of this store but I assume it is similar to HobbyCraft in the UK and if so, I am totally going there on my next day off!! Given all your facts, it sounds to me like one anti-semitic worker gave the stupid reason of Mr Green's faith for the reason they do not carry chanukah stuff. I also think they are stupid not to, and especially in Jewish areas such as NJ they should stock Jewish things in their store. It does not have to be in every single store. Also, hanukkah is something that many many reform and even half jewish people celebrate, like Christmas so it does not make sense the hanukah things didn't sell. Maybe not in the Texas store...but NJ, NY, LA, FL??

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  5. You are more then welcome to send this to the patch - Please do! I'm not sure how I could speak to David Green myself. He seems to be a pretty important man :)

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  6. Great site! Thanks for sharing! I agree with you 100%

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  7. i've rarely seen a company refuse to sell something if they will make $$$$ from it.

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  8. I am not asking that the company 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.


    You are absolutely correct that Hobby Lobby owes me nothing. They have every right to carry the merchandise they want to carry. That same right gives me the freedom of choice to shop elsewhere. I don't need to start my own store. There are many other crafting stores out there that carry what I need and are inclusive of all religions and nationalities.

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  9. I am a Reform Jew and I do enjoy crafting (beading) in my free time. I was aware that Hobby Lobby shut on Sundays which was fine with me. What I wasn't aware of was that Hobby Lobby doesn't cater or want to do business with Jews. The Marlboro store is five minutes from my house. Now I will travel twenty minutes but I won't give this store any more of my time and/or business.

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  10. I know a *lot* of Jewish crafters, Abbey. You're not alone. And this is just one more reason I won't do business with HL. I am intolerant of intolerance.

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  11. My daughter texted me about the Hobby Lobby/Hanukkah issue. I am a Christian who loves to celebrate Hanukkah, and Passover. I also live in Oklahoma. I do not know Mr. Green, but I know what most Oklahomans are like. I would expect he is appalled that anyone would be so incredibly rude and bigoted as the NJ employee. I think he is pro-freedom to sell what he wants. I would be surprised if he is anti-Semitic. Christians know Jesus is Jewish; and the Oklahomans I know stand with Israel simply because of that. I think he is pro-Christian and would never want that to be interpreted as hating anyone. Yes there are millions of Jews in the U.S., but most folks here don't personally know any Jewish people (unless they happen to be in a couple of small urban areas) and simply don't understand why a 'southern, Christian' store would even need to think about expanding its product line. Narrow-minded? Not intentionally. Just unaware. I personally believe to not include Jewish holiday decor/crafts in a craft store that promotes biblical themes is ridiculous. I think any business that has this many stores and is expanding into new markets has to have some business savvy . . . so, surely when they say they are checking into it, they mean they are checking into it.

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  12. I am a Jewish crafter and i've been aware of the dearth of Jewish themed crafting supplies for many yrs. i do mostly paper crafts and the companies that make them are primarily based in Utah. They throw a token Jewish icon in now and then but they are few and far between. When a new Hobby Lobby opened about 30 minutes away, my daughter and I went to check it out. We saw the sign abt closed on Sunday and heard the music overhead but what struck us most of all was the wall of large homedecor crosses. We giggled and decided we probably wouldn't be finding too many Jewish things there. I guess i am so used to stores NOT carrying Jewish items that it really wasn't a surprise. I try to patronize stores that carry Jewish things but I can't say I would boycott unless there was documented anti-semitism.

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  13. You would think differently if a store won't sell Christmas items.

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  14. No I wouldn't, I know stores that do so. I don't shop there... see how easy that is.

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  15. "If they want to sell all over the nation then they must include all people within that nation" No they do not. They are a private business in the private sector. If they were a business in the public (government) sector then you might have a point, but they are not. They do not have to do anything if they do not want to. By all means please do not shop there and go somewhere else, that is the correct way and I applaud you for doing so. However, I disagree with the utmost vehemence statements saying that a company must include all people within a nation; they do not. Otherwise what is to stop me from walking into a Jewish Kosher shop and demand that they sell me pork because they must include all people within the nation!

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  16. I am a Reform Jew living in a very Christian, very conservative suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. I just stumbled across your blog - and THANK YOU! As a knitter with two small children, it's nice to know that I am not alone. You have a new subscriber!

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  17. The difference is this. A Jewish Kosher supermarket is only going to sell kosher food since it's specifically a kosher market. Most general supermarkets (many owned by Jews) sell non kosher food as well as kosher ones. If Hobby Lobby described their store as a Christian crafting store no one would be bothered, but according to their website they describe themselves as carrying an exceptional selection of products in the crafts and home decor market.


    Listen, does it bother me that they are not selling any Jewish items? YES. Will I ever shop there? NO. But what bothers me the most is their language. It's not ok to say "We don't cater to YOU people." What is that?? It's so ignorant and so offensive.

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  18. I always correct people when I hear "You People" I smile and respond, no, you me "The People" as in "The Chosen People" :-)

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  19. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228656


    According to ^^ this post Christmas Tree Shops sells a range of Hanuka items. Guess I gotta check that store out!

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  20. It was most likely the employee's words...not the companies words...


    And I also have to wonder if Hobby Lobby wasn't so in the news right now for fighting against Obamacare, would this even be an issue?

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  21. Although you make all the factual correct statements in your original post here, it implies that HL and Mr. Green are anti-Semitic. And now its out there and reading thru the comments, it has several people angry and impassioned against HL. I think joymessage's post summed it up pretty well.

    "Do I think the founder David Green is anti-Semitic? I don't know." Of course you don't without any evidence of it and with evidence to the contrary. So why put it out there? Are Jews secretly anti-Gentile or anti-Christian? Gee I don't know for sure. Who can know the heart of another except God?

    I do know that it has been Christian's, Christian organizations and churches and so-called Christian nations that have been the biggest supporters of Israel. That it was primarily Christians' that hid Jews from the Nazi's in WWII (ref: the lifetime work of Pearl & Sam Oliner in their book The Altruistic Personality). Why not emphasize these things more.

    Finally, every true Christian except possibly a young and new believer, knows and recognizes that Judaism is the root of our faith.

    Thank you

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  22. "If they want to sell all over the nation then they must include all people within that nation" Really? How about Muslims? Oh I forgot, they aren't considered part of this nation to You People.

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  23. "If they want to sell all over the nation then they must include
    all people within that nation. "

    Really? They should carry things for Wiccan celebrations? How about Rastafarian? Muslim? American Indian? Nazis? Those that celebrate Kwanzaa and Festivus? Tell us why they MUST? The only thing they must carry is what the owner says they must carry. And the market will decide whether that's good business or not.

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  24. Here is more about Mart Green (David Green's son) and a movie he produced "Little Town of Bethlehem" I leave the link and you can draw your own conclusions.
    http://www.wnd.com/2011/12/374717/

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  25. I came across your blog while doing research on Hobby Lobby, great site by the way! I am neither Jewish nor Christian, but I respect all faiths and wont give my business to stores that discriminate against anyone. Even if it isnt profitable to keep items in your store, you should know how to order them for inquiring customers. I'm a scrapbooker and a Scout Leader. We teach the kids that being reverent means not only following their own beliefs, but respecting the beliefs of others. I buy a lot of craft materials but they will come from Michaels or Pat Cataans.

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