IKEA apologizes for woman-free catalogue catering to haredi Orthodox

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Swedish furniture giant IKEA has apologized for publishing a catalogue for Israel’s haredi Orthodox community that does not include any photos of women.

A spokeswoman in IKEA’s headquarters in Sweden told Israeli and international media outlets that the catalogue was produced by its Israel branch, which has three stores, and that it is “not something that has gone through us.” The spokeswoman also said that “we have been very clear that this is not what the IKEA brand stands for.”

The catalogue features furniture that would be in demand by large-sized haredi Orthodox families. There also are no photographs of women, in keeping with the community’s strict tradition of modesty.

“Due to requests we received, we decided to launch an alternative and special catalogue, which allows the religious and Haredi communities to enjoy thumbing through our products and the solutions that IKEA offers in accordance with their lifestyle,” IKEA’s Israel headquarters said in a statement when it released the catalogue earlier this month.

Over the weekend, Shuky Koblenz, chief executive of IKEA in Israel, said in a statement: “We realize that people are upset about this and that the publication does not live up to what IKEA stands for and we apologize for this. We will make sure that future publications will reflect what IKEA stands for and at the same time show respect for the Haredi community.”

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All IKEA outlets in Israel have kosher restaurants and are closed on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays.

Other Israeli companies and institutions have excluded women in advertisements geared toward the haredi community. The haredi community comprises about 10 percent of Israel’s population.

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