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Hobby Lobby apologizes, announces some stores to carry Jewish holiday items

Published: Monday, Oct. 7 2013 11:45 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2012 file photo, customers walk to a Hobby Lobby store in Dallas. Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby says the chain will start carrying Jewish merchandise in some of its stores after a New Jersey blogger complained about a lack of Hanukkah items.

Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

Hobby Lobby will begin carrying Jewish holiday items after receiving criticism last week for not selling such merchandise, according to the Associated Press.

The arts-and-crafts chain store will add Jewish holiday products to select locations, including those in areas with a high Jewish population, according to the AP. Hobby Lobby president Steve Green didn’t reveal what products would be sold, but he said they should arrive by November.

"We do not have any problems selling items that celebrate Jewish holidays," Green told the AP. "We have in the past and have decided we would try it again in some of the markets where we have Jewish population."

In accordance with Green’s announcement on Friday, the company released a statement that announced the selling of Jewish holiday products.

“Due to overwhelming demand in the Northeast, we are pleased to announce that we will begin offering Jewish holiday items in a number of stores to test the market in New York and New Jersey,” read the statement, which was released a week after the company started receiving criticism.

The controversy began Sept. 27, when Ken Berwitz blogged about Hobby Lobby's lack of Jewish items in a Marlboro, N.J., store. He wrote that a friend asked about specific products but was told by one retail worker, "We don't cater to you people."

Berwitz went on to write that he would never step foot in a Hobby Lobby again after the company pushed its values on consumers in that manner.

Green said he talked to Berwitz for about 20 minutes on Friday. "Berwitz called the conversation 'pleasant' and said the situation should be '(defused),'" according to the AP.

Though Hobby Lobby apologized for the recent controversy, one writer at Tablet Magazine, Yair Rosenberg, opined that Hobby Lobby isn’t completely wrong in not selling Hanukkah items. He said Green wasn't totally to blame for not selling merchandise that directly opposes his faith.

“For a traditionalist Christian like Green, that Judaism denies Jesus is no trivial matter — it is the very heart of his religious faith,” Rosenberg wrote.

The Anti-Defamation League, which aims to fight anti-Semitism, accepted Hobby Lobby’s apology. The ADL explained it has heard concerns in the past about the store’s lack of Jewish products and said not selling Jewish products doesn’t infringe on anyone’s rights.

“We have no reason to believe that Hobby Lobby has refused to stock Hanukkah items because of hostility to Jews or anti-Semitism,” ADL said in a statement.

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

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