The Swedish clothing chain H&M is getting flak on social media for selling this scarf, which is strikingly similar to the Jewish prayer shawl (or tallit).
The scarf is on sale online for $17.99, and its existence was first pointed out by the fashion blog Racked.com. Some social media users heavily criticized H&M for selling the item, with one writing, “I’m not Jewish, but think it’s wrong to use an item of religious dress as a fashion statement.”
Another user tweeted that it is ironic that a Swedish store is selling such an item while “a Jew cannot walk in Sweden with a tallit (or a kippah) without risking himself.”
I understand the irritation some people may feel over this given several recent cases of items like these being sold by clothing chains. But in this case, yes, the item looks like a tallit. Maybe it was accidental and maybe it was intentional. But so what? Who cares? I’m Jewish and I say to everyone: “Lighten up!” We all secretly think it's nice looking anyway.
At least it’s not another concentration camp shirt. Let's save our battles for that.
Incidentally, for those looking for a more upscale religious look, H&M is selling this poncho that also looks like a tallit for $34.99.
UPDATE: On Friday H&M issued the following apology, according to Women's Wear Daily (WWD):
“We are truly sorry if we have offended anyone with this piece. Everyone is welcome at H&M and we never take a religious or political stand. Our intention was never to upset anyone. Stripes is one of the trends for this season and we’ve been inspired by this."
PC culture can really be unbalanced sometimes. Why do we feel compelled to apologize for every nonsense these days (just in case we offend some silly people who look for something to be angry about because they have too much time on their hands)?
Advice to H&M (and others like it): Don't fall for it. It makes makes apologies for things that actually merit atonement far less meaningful.