Hobby Lobby, Whose President Has Oldest Jewish Prayer Book, Refuses To Sell Jewish Items

Hobby Lobby, whose President owns the oldest known Jewish prayer book, refuses to sell Jewish items because the store favors "Christian values."

The odd dance that has developed between conservative American Christians and the Jewish community at large in the last few decades underscores a certain tension between them, due to religious beliefs causing Christians in the past to murder, maim, and torture Jews rampantly over the centuries.  After all, Jesus Christ was a Jew, but was killed (in part) by Jews with help from the Romans.  Sometimes, you see just a few missteps in the dance, and they show that not everything is in sync, or in full standing.  Consider the "Christian values" chain hobby store, Hobby Lobby.  Despite its President Steve Green recently acquiring the oldest known Jewish prayer book as part of his collection of Biblical artifacts, the store recently told a couple of Jews that they refused to sell Jewish items because "we don't cater to you people."

Ken Berwitz, a Jewish man based in northeast New Jersey, noticed how the two local Hobby Lobby stores around the area, which has a high Jewish concentration, were not selling any Hannukah goods.  Due to an incredibly rare instance in how the Jewish lunar calendar works, Hannukah is being around the same time as the American Thanksgiving holiday in late November 2013, so people were obviously shopping for stuff early. 

However, when a friend of Berwitz's asked why there were no Hannukah goods, they were told "We don't cater to you people."  Berwitz himself spoke to the local Hobby Lobby stores while looking for a bar mitzvah and the company's home office, and got similar responses, with the addition that company President Steve Green is a "Christian, and those are his values."  This also implies that Hobby Lobby also does not sell items for Passover or Jewish New Year celebrations.

This comes as a bit ironic, given Steve Green's recent history.  Steve Green is indeed a Christian, but he is also an avid collector of historic Biblical items and artifacts, especially those not explicitly associated with the Catholic or Orthodox Churches.  Given the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) consists of most of the books in the Old Testament of the Bible, Green's collection includes Jewish artifacts.  These artifacts include the recent acquisition of the oldest known siddur, or Jewish prayer book, which dates from the year 4600 (840 CE).

Hobby Lobby, for its part, is trying to protect itself from the impending Jewish boycott by ordering an investigation into the employees that made these remarks, and Steve Green himself just offered an apology in the past hour.  But still, it is rather fascinating to see the cracks show in the relationship between Jews and conservative Christians.

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