Target Keeps Missing the Mark with Lack of Jewish Greeting Card Options [OP-ED]
The following editorial was written by Democratic District Leader (District 65 Part A) Caroline Laskow.
If I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to celebrate a loved one’s 100th birthday, I know I can find a card for them at my local Target store on the corner of Grand and Clinton Streets. The odds of that occurring are admittedly low, and honestly, if I’m celebrating someone’s 100th birthday, I would probably choose something handmade. But I could also shop cards for a whole host of occasions: anniversaries, all the other birthdays (specific and generic), sympathy/grieving, Grandparents’ Day, christenings, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, multi-purpose “Congratulations” messaging, and of course Christmas.
But what I can’t find at my Target – situated on the Lower East Side (in Essex Crossing) – is a card for a bar or bat mitzvah. For those who don’t know, this is the life cycle event marking a young person’s entrance to Jewish “adulthood.” It’s typically observed around the 13th birthday, for which they study a Torah passage in depth, and lead a shabbat service. It’s a joyful occasion that is observed by Jews across the many different movements (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, etc), and non-Jewish guests are included in the event. Because b-mitzvot (one of the gender-neutral plural terms used in place of “bar” (male) or “bat” (female) mitzvot) are timed to birthdays, they occur all year-round. Unlike, say, Mother’s Day or Easter, b-mitzvot cards are season-less and non-perishable.
There isn’t a coherent, consistent “no religious/no specific cultural observance cards” policy at Target. This year’s Christmas display went up just after Halloween and there are usually Quinceanera cards. Since they opened up down here in August 2018, I have Tweeted at Target about their shameful underrepresentation of Jewish holidays in the card section. It seemed like a dumb mistake at first, but years later, no change.
Regret to inform you that my @target on the Lower East Side of New York has ZERO b’nai mitzvah cards. These are season-less, non-perishable items (and yes there is a giant Christmas card section already on display). Do better @target— Caroline Laskow (@claskow) November 5, 2021
The Lower East Side is rich in Jewish history, of course, and also actual living Jewish people, like me. But as the old Levy’s rye bread commercial famously touted, “You don’t have to be Jewish…” to celebrate someone’s b-mitzvah. This is one of many crowded, diverse neighborhoods in a crowded, diverse city, and to assume that none of its residents would ever know a Jewish kid to whom they would want to send a b-mitzvah card is offensive and dim.
I want to be able to rejoice and sympathize and connect with my friends and family in accordance with whatever religious, cultural, or social affiliation is appropriate, and I know there is room for more representation at Target.
Keep the Happy 100th Birthday cards (yes, there is more than one), AND make space for, let’s say, 3 b-mitzvot versions: one for a bar mitzvah, one for a bat mitzvah, one gender-neutral/inclusive. I’m not dreaming so big as to imagine they might offer a broader selection of cards, just that Target acts like Jewish people and our celebrations actually matter.