Walmart Gets Into The Haredi Purim Costume Biz

This post first appeared as “Play Dress Up at Walmart” on The Shmooze blog at The Forward.

Screenshot_1_9_13_9_20_AMIt seems we’re barely past Hanukkah, and it’s already time to think ahead to Purim (and of course, to Tu B’Shevat in between). This year, however, there is no need to fret between now and February 23 about where to buy unmistakably Jewish kids’ costumes.

You’d think you’d have to seek out a specialty shop in a certain neighborhood (say, Boro Park or Crown Heights) to find something fitting the needs of Haredi children. But, no, that will not be necessary. Neither will you have to check Israeli websites to try ordering something from a supplier in the Holy Land. Actually, all you need to do is turn to the world’s third largest public corporation. Yes, that would be Walmart.

Believe it or not, the ubiquitous big box store is offering for a reasonable price to dress your child up as a Jewish High Priest from Temple times, or a Jewish Grand Rabbi, with one of the biggest shtreimls you have ever seen. There’s also a Jewish Rabbi costume with a plainer kapote and a smaller fur hat than for the Grand Rabbi. We guess Walmart isn’t aware that there aren’t any Grand Rabbis — or rabbis, for that matter — who aren’t Jewish.

Also available are biblical Matriarch costumes. Rivka (Rebecca) clearly gets the better treatment, with a long white silk dress with golden fringe and snazzy camel appliqués. The Rachel outfit has more of a nun (!) or folk dancer vibe to it, and the image of Rachel’s Tomb on the front of the dress simply can’t compete with the camel cute factor.

Walmart is not marketing these frummy costumes on a special Purim or Jewish section of their website. They are actually part of the “Dress Up America” line. Does this mean we will see hordes of little Grand Rabbis and Rachel Imeinus trick-or-treating all across the country next Halloween?

© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

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