Hobby Lobby Apologizes for Alleged Anti-Semitic Incident

October 10, 2013
BY Marc Shapiro

After customers in a New Jersey store were allegedly told that Hobby Lobby doesn’t cater to Jewish customers, the company issued an apology and said it is re-evaluating its merchandise selection and investigating the incident.

New Jersey blogger Ken Berwitz reported that family friends went to a Hobby Lobby in Marlboro, N.J., which was stocked with Christmas merchandise but had nothing Chanukah-related. When they asked about Chanukah merchandise, they were reportedly told, “We don’t cater to you people.”

When Berwitz called the store and was told they would not be stocking Chanukah goods, he reported that the employee on the phone explained that “because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.”

Hobby Lobby released a statement from owner Steve Green on Oct. 3 after expansive media coverage made news of the incident go viral.

“We sincerely apologize for any employee comments that may have offended anyone, especially our Jewish customers and friends,” the statement said. “Comments like these do not reflect the feelings of our family or Hobby Lobby.”

Hampden resident Jessica Krasnick, who gets concert posters framed at the Hobby Lobby in Columbia a couple of times a year, said it sounds like they’re trying to cover up a mistake. She thinks the company realized after the media attention and outcry of posts on the company’s Facebook wall that they needed to respond to the concerns.

She hasn’t had a hostile experience at the store but said she may shop around for a comparable framing option.

“I had my ketuba framed there, and they said it was beautiful and said all these nice comments about it, and I didn’t feel nervous at all to hand them something Jewish,” she said. “At the same time, it’s in their mission statement … it’s in there about following biblical principles. They need to make clear to their employees what that means.”

The company’s website says employees are committed to “honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles” and that the company believes that “it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future.”

In the company’s statement, Green said Hobby Lobby has a deep respect for the Jewish faith and contributes to Yad Vashem as well as synagogues and Jewish museums in the U.S. and Israel. The company has previously carried merchandise for Jewish holidays.

“We select the items we sell in our stores based on customer demand,” Green said in the statement. “We are working our buyers to re-evaluate our holiday items and what we will carry in the future.”

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