Backlash Prompts Nordstrom To Pull “Chai Maintenance” Hanukkah Sweater

chaimaintenance2‘Tis the season — and by that of course, I mean the holidays can prove to be tricky for the retail industry to maneuver: from security breaches to product delays, layaway debacles to shipping mistakes, we’ve seen all kinds of incidents that turn shoppers against brands and stores. In the latest brouhaha, Nordstrom found itself apologizing to customers for a Hanukkah sweater some called offensive.

The blue sweater from brand Faux Real is emblazoned with a menorah and the phrase, “Chai Maintenance” across the chest. Chai is the Hebrew word for life, and sounds somewhat like “high” when pronounced. Some on social media called it an unfair stereotype of Jewish women.

“I’m disappointed to see that Nordstrom is selling such an offensive item that perpetuates negative stereotypes of Jewish women,” wrote one Facebook user. “I hope you remove it from your inventory.”

“Very disappointed that Nordstrom’s would sell such a degrading item, that makes fun of Jewish Women,” another wrote.

There is a version for men, as well: it says “Mazel tov” on the top front and “Oy vey” on the back, and Happy Hanukkah on both sides.

“Cute and kitschy is one thing but perpetuating negative stereotypes as supposedly cute or fun holiday wear is disgusting,” another post read. “I expect more of a large high end retailer such as Nordstrom. Especially when the version for men is just cute, why is the version for women derogatory?”

Not everyone found the sweater’s message offensive, however.

“I don’t see the problem with this,” one customer posted. “Chai maintenance T-shirts have been around for years!” She added, “there are more serious issues to be concerned about… move on!

“Really how is this offensive? We have been sporting the Chi Maintenance fashion for years!” another person wrote. “And we have given ourselves the acronym Jewish American Princess! So now that some manufacture is making money off it, it suddenly offensive? ”

Amid the controversy, Nordstrom announced today that it would pull the sweater, and issued an apology to customers who were offended by it.

“We made a mistake by not looking more closely at the words on the sweater before we posted it — had we done so, we wouldn’t have offered it,” said a Nordstrom spokeswoman. “As soon as we heard from customers, we removed it from our site right away. We’re terribly sorry for offending people and sincerely apologize.”

Nordstrom isn’t alone in feeling the heat from shoppers this holiday season: Target recently came under fire for selling a Christmas sweater reading “OCD — Obsessive Christmas Disorder,” which some said made light of mental health issues. Target apologized, but said it plans to keep selling it.

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