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Zara’s Holocaust Shirt

August 28, 2014 | by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith

The fashion faux pas is offensive, but save your indignation and focus on more critical issues.

What was Zara’s thinking? A Nazi-chic, concentration camp shirt with yellow Jewish star -- for your baby? This is supposed to be high fashion? Putting aside the anti-Semitic overtones for a moment, who would buy something so ugly?

To their credit, Zara’s immediately apologized and yanked the product from their stores after the Twitterverse went ballistic. A spokesperson for Zara’s parent company said, “The garment was inspired by the classic Western films, but we now recognize that the design could be seen as insensitive and apologize sincerely for any offence caused to our customers.”

A stupid mistake? Could be, but unlikely. Three Holocaust-related elements went into the design of this shirt: the six-point start of David, making the star yellow, and putting it on a striped shirt. No one noticed what it resembled?

The fashion faux pas is offensive, but save your outrage. This is not a battle worth fighting no matter how loud the blogosphere screams. In today’s instant messaging world, everything gets screamed aloud in order to have its one minute of spotlight. If everything demands our moral outrage, we become desensitized to the incidents that truly deserve our outrage. Suffering from Outrage Fatigue Syndrome, we tune out all the noise.

There are enough atrocious things going on in the world, and to the Jewish people that warrant our ire and involvement. It is a disservice to blow things out of proportion. Anti-Semitism around the world is bad enough; we do not need to inflate it by characterizing it as another Holocaust on our doorstep.

All the clatter can also obscure incidents that should truly alarm us. The disappearance and possible kidnapping of Aaron Sofer, an American yeshiva student learning in Jerusalem, who inexplicably went missing while hiking with his friend in the Jerusalem forest, is perhaps a case in point. It has galvanized the Orthodox hareidi world to unite in prayer around the world, and search parties in Jerusalem. But I do not get the sense that the same urgent response is being felt amongst all sectors in Israel and the Jewish world.

Just as the Jewish world united when Naftali, Eyal and Gilad were kidnapped, with everyone feeling that these were “our boys,” the entire Jewish world needs to feel the same way about Aaron Sofer. He is our son, our brother. We should be losing sleep. Perhaps the somewhat muted response is due to not knowing what has happened, but the fact of the matter is that a precious Jew is missing. Watch the video of Aaron’s parents (see below) and feel their pain. Imagine it was your son feared to be kidnapped by Arab terrorists.

The Zara Holocaust baby shirt is nuisance. Let’s direct our energies to doing what we can to help the Sofer family. That means praying for Aaron ben Chulda’s well-being (yes it does make a difference), and making an effort to get out of our pettiness and care about our fellow Jew, no matter what kippah he may or may not be wearing. We experienced that unity 50 days ago. Let’s come together again and may it be a merit for Aaron ben Chulda.


Seven hours after posting this article, the body of Aaron Sofer was found in the Jerusalem area of Ein Kerem. We are shocked and saddened by this terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

Readers can express their condolences in the comment section below.

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