As a Jewish person, I have a certain amount of bandwidth dedicated to when non-Jews get things wrong about Judaism.
When someone mistakenly mispronounces a Hebrew word? That uses up none of my bandwidth. For those who haven’t studied it, Hebrew is an unfamiliar language with unfamiliar characters! I even mispronounce Hebrew words now and again.
Conversely, when my childhood school district consistently scheduled important events like Picture Day on the High Holidays? That drained my bandwidth. It takes minimal effort to figure out when Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur are falling on the Gregorian calendar, but they chose not to or didn’t care. That signaled to me that the district administration found my faith and culture, and by extension, me, to be unimportant.
But this “Hanukkah” pillow from Bed Bath & Beyond is, well, beyond.
— Ashley ✡️🦁 (@ashleyblair21) October 28, 2021
Yes, that is a pillow that says “Why is this night different from all other nights?” with “Happy Hanukkah” written beneath it. And I just have one question, BB&B: Did you think about consulting one Jew before making this?
The question “Why is this night different from all other nights?” derives from the Ma Nishtana, a song Jews sing at Passover, an entirely different holiday than Hanukkah. In essence, this would be like putting “He is risen. Merry Christmas!” on what I now assume you call your “holiday” decor.
Again, I know that Judaism is an unfamiliar religion and culture to some. We are a minority, after all, and mistakes happen! But for me, the gravity and context of the mistake and the intent of the person (or, in this case, company that approved this design for its shelves) are crucial.
Is there any gravity to this situation? Not really — the design isn’t antisemitic, per se. It’s just deeply uninformed. (Also it looks like a shitty pillow.) What I take issue with is the context and the intent.
Bed Bath & Beyond is a billion dollar company founded by Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein, who are Jews!!! I find it hard to believe that the designers at BB&B had no resources with which to factcheck their Hanukkah decor, especially when, in the past, they’ve proven that they’re capable of making beautiful Judaica. What is most irksome to me is that the group of people who designed, approved and made this pillow clearly attempted to profit off of Jewishness without respect for our traditions.
Smartly, after the image went viral on social media, Bed Bath & Beyond has since made the pillow unavailable to purchase on their website — though it’s unclear if these pillows are still available in their brick and mortar stores.
Bed Bath & Beyond, I’m speaking directly to you: Please do better.
Also, I really, like really, need you to know that Hanukkah is eight nights. That’s kind of its whole thing. Trying to use the phrase “Why is this night different from all other nights?” for a holiday that is famously longer than one night is just embarrassing. Get it together, dude.