Hobby Lobby Boycotts Chanukah and Pesach

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hobby_lobbyChanukah 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 Chanukah 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 Chanukah 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 Chanukah 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.

The Hobby Lobby Chanukah controversy began when Berwitz learned that on a recent shopping trip his wife’s friends could not find anything related to Chanukah at their local Hobby Lobby store in Marlboro, N.J., though it was stocked with X-mas 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 Chanukah, 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 Chanukah and did not give a reason. When he asked whether the company carries Pesach 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 Chanukah items, and everybody else has the right not to shop there. His advice for people looking to buy Chanukah 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 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.”


{Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. To #5: you read too fast. There is no suit against Hobby Lobby, just a boycott. Only lawsuit mentioned is the one where HL is suing Obama for forcing him to pay for employee abortions.

  2. If he doesn’t want to stock jewish items that his choice ( and of course a loss of profit too), this is a free country, its no russia of the 1930s where evryone was told what they could or could not sell.

  3. This is totally false. I (a frum looking Yid) own a company that has been selling to Hobby Lobby for many years. I have met the buyers and Mr. Steve Green many many times at Trade Shows, etc. and they are ALWAYS EXTREMELY FRIENDLY AND RESPECTFUL TO US.
    I don’t believe that these comments were ever made
    by any HL employee.

  4. This year at Amazing Saving Brooklyn get your artificial X-mas tree only $14.99, Santa costumes (can be used purim) $12.99 and all the X-mas light you could ask for (can be used in the sukkah) only $8.99.

  5. Dovid:

    There is no lawsuit and businesses can legally sell whatever they choose. Customers have the right to make choices based on corporate decisions.

  6. I don’t really see why we would want to try to force anyone to display our Jewish ritualistic items. There is a time and place for everything, and this is not it. I wouldn’t carry not Jewish ritualistic items in my store if I had one, and I doubt that in Williamsburg or Boro Park they would even consider doing so. Chanukah is observed at home, in shule and in my personality.

  7. the rabbi of the reform temple has it right. There is nothing wrong with what Hobby Lobby is doing. Those who are insecure about their Judaism may suffer. No one else.

  8. Amazing Savings recognizes that we live in a Christian country, and sells Xmas merchandise in season. (Of course, they get double mileage by putting out the same stuff before Sukkos…)

  9. Seems like Berwitz has earned himslef some good marketing through this. It has also earned a place amongst those who have hurt us. This is hisgarus be’umos. Let them sell whatever they wish to in their own stores. The owner has every right to choose to only sell certain items. Mr. Berwitz is complaining for a very different reason.

    Mr. Berwitz is hurt that the Goyim aren’t interested in him. Its quite ironic how he chooses to take Chanuka for his game. Chanuka is in celebration of purity – the pure oilve oil – when rid ourselves of Hellenisim. What is this dude seeking?

  10. I agree with number 20. HL doesn’t sell olive oil? Christians don’t use olive oil? Are HL’s doughnuts not Cholov Yisroel? What is the issue?

  11. That’s it.
    For now on I am doing all my
    Xmas shopping at
    Amazing Savings.
    I will not patronize Hobby.
    It seems to me that he is missing
    a “K” and an “O”, perhaps he can
    pick up the missing letters at
    Amazing Savings!

  12. •I spent an hour at the Marlboro store trying to help them and spoke to corporate. I do not believe they are anti-Semitic and believe certain people are trying to destroy their reputation. I have suggested sources to obtain Chanukah items and how to fight the bad press. The president has apologized. If there was such an employee, he or she should be fired sap.. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  13. In a recent statement from the owner of Hobby Lobby, there was an apology for any offensive statements and an agreement to stock stores in Jewish neighborhoods with Jewish holiday merchandise. They also stated that they donate to Holocaust memorials and fully respect the Jewish faith.

  14. I can easily believe they had no cards in stock, I can also believe a foolish employee making an unpleasant comment, I hardly believe it being the business’s deliberate policy (as it has nothing to do with ritual items, only with holiday cards and decorations), I think it is more likely that the employee tried to shift the blame “higher” after realizing the comment was way out of line. Anyway who cares. If it were true, I agree with the advice of the reform temple leader.


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