25, 2004; Page B09
Corp. has stopped selling bracelets made popular by pop icon Madonna
and other celebrities after a Jewish group said the item commercialized
a sacred tradition.
Society for Sephardic Progress, a Florida-based advocacy group
for Jews of Spanish descent, protested when Target began selling
a string bracelet called "Kabbalah Red String."
is believed to ward off evil. It originates in Israel, where it
is wrapped around the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, spiritual
protector and mother figure to adherents of Jewish mystical philosophy.
The string is cut into pieces and sent to the United States to
be sold under the auspices of the Kabbalah Centre, a Los Angeles-based
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 eight to 10 bracelets
for $26. Adherents wear the bracelets until they fall off, a period
of time they believe depends on the amount of evil the person
is exposed to.
wrote to Target in early August, asking the company to halt sales
of the product. Target responded 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.
did not respond to a request for comment, but the society celebrated
the decision. "The Jewish people should not allow the corporate
exploitation of their religion," Shelomo Alfassa, the society's
executive director, said in a statement.
In an interview,
the Kabbalah Centre co-director, Rabbi Michael Berg, said the
commercial aspect of the center's work is not a detriment to the
ideals of the Kabbalah because the sales benefit the nonprofit
organization and its programs, including free after-school spirituality
programs for children in a dozen cities.
ISFSP Press Release