‘Tis the season of Hanukkah misfires and chastened retailers

This year, major retailers are responding quickly to customer complaints about Hanukkah products they say are culturally inappropriate or misinformed.

Leni (blonde hair) and Tali lighting the last candle of Hannukah, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Leni (blonde hair) and Tali lighting the last candle of Hannukah, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

“Deck the halls with matzo balls”? Hanukkah menorahs with 12 candles?

Products with misfired Hanukkah messages have been drawn gripes for years, but this year major retailers are responding quickly to customer complaints about Hanukkah products they say are culturally inappropriate or misinformed.

It took just one day from when the Instagram account Hanukkah Fails posted about Target’s Hanukkah “Countdown Calendar” before the major retailer changed the product description to “Happy Hanukkah Wall Hanging Menorah.”

The Instagram account, which is dedicated to pointing out culturally inappropriate Hanukkah-related products or product descriptions, posted about the product Sunday. The original product description — which suggested a connection between Hanukkah and Advent calendars that count down the days until Christmas — was altered by Monday to remove any reference to counting down.

A decorated spruce tree, traditional in the Novi God (New Year) celebration, seen at a Russian-Israeli home in Jerusalem, on January 1, 2016. Novigod is a Russian tradition of celebrating together with family on New Year's Eve, and new year's day. Novigod celebrations take after Christmas festive sy (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)A decorated spruce tree, traditional in the Novi God (New Year) celebration, seen at a Russian-Israeli home in Jerusalem, on January 1, 2016. Novigod is a Russian tradition of celebrating together with family on New Year's Eve, and new year's day. Novigod celebrations take after Christmas festive sy (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Bed, Bath and Beyond removed a Hanukkah product altogether after customers pointed out that its message mixed up two different Jewish holidays. The product, a pillow printed with the words “Why is this night different from all other nights? Happy Hanukkah,” used perhaps the most iconic phrase from the Passover seder.

After images of the pillow went viral — and after Alma, JTA’s sister site, wrote about the “worst Hanukkah pillow of all time” — Bed, Bath and Beyond removed the product from its website.