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  • Traditions

  • Urgently, H&M Asks, 'If Not Now, When?'

    If Not Now

    Amid Zara's 'concentration camp' shirt debacle, Swedish retailer's sold-out T-shirt is more homage than exploitation.

    Hannah Dreyfus for The Jewish Week

    What do H&M and Jewish Voice For Peace have in common? Mishnaic sage Hillel, of course.

    Both the Swedish retail giant and the far-left political group are using “If not now, when?” the rhetorical question found in Chapters of Our Fathers [Pirkei Avot]: H&M as a T-shirt slogan and JVP as a hashtag.

    A large billboard in Times Square features Hillel’s urgent question, the third in a series after “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I?” written in oversized black letters on a slinky tank top selling for $9.95. But the t-shirt isn’t in the store.

    “That’s been one of our most popular items this summer,” said Kiera Elliott, H&M saleswoman in Times Square, who explained the shirt’s conspicuous absence from sale-racks. “We sold that item out weeks ago, but people keep asking me about it. It obviously made a lasting impression.”

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