Request of Jewish Group,
Target Pulls Kabbalah 'Red String'"
stopped selling bracelets made popular by pop icon Madonna and
other celebrities after a Jewish group said the item commercialized
a sacred religious tradition.
Society for Sephardic Progress (ISFSP), a Florida-based advocacy
group for Jews of Spanish descent, protested when the Target Corp.
began selling a red string bracelet it called "Kabbalah Red
is believed to ward off evil. It is literally wrapped around what
is believed to be the tomb, in Israel, of the biblical matriarch
Rachel, who is seen as a protector and mother figure to adherents
of Jewish mystical philosophy. The string is then sent to the
United States to be sold under the auspices of the Kabbalah Centre,
a Los Angeles-based organization.
in Orthodox Jewish circles for teaching that Kabbalah is not a
Jewish philosophy but available to all people, the Kabbalah Centre
sells a length of red string that makes between eight and 10 bracelets
wear the bracelets until they fall off, a period of time that
they believe depends on the amount of evil the person is exposed
wrote to Target in early August, asking the company to halt sales
of the product. The group noted that the U.S. government had denied
the Kabbalah Centre a patent and trademark for "Red String"
because of its religious meanings.
with a letter that stated the string had been removed from the
stores and Web site and is no longer advertised or offered for
sale. Target did not respond to a request for public comment,
but the ISFSP celebrated the decision.
Jewish people should not allow the corporate exploitation of their
religion," wrote Shelomo Alfassa, executive director of the
ISFSP, in a statement lauding Target's decision.
as well as Kabbalah, which is an inherent part of our sacred tradition,
is not for sale, period."
Centre co-director Rabbi Michael Berg said the commercial aspect
of his center's work is not a detriment to the ideals of the Kabbalah
because all proceeds of the sales benefit the nonprofit organization.
of it goes into my pocket," Berg said in an interview. He
said proceeds go to a "Spirituality for Kids" program,
which provides free after-school programs in a dozen cities and
operates two day schools in the United States. Bracelet revenues
also go toward courses offered at Kabbalah Centres worldwide and
even telephone lessons for people who do not live near a center,
that anyone who cannot afford books, red string bracelets or other
products his center sells will be given one for free.
ISFSP Press Release