Jul 14, 2014
Brouhaha Over Hijab Photo
A Jewish owned clothing line is responding to criticism over an Instagram photo of a Muslim woman modeling their skirt.
By COLlive reporter
A Jewish owned women's clothing line in Brooklyn, NY, is facing online criticism over a photo of a Muslim woman modeling their maxi skirt.
Mimu Maxi, creators of the "ultimate no-nonsense, canvas wear for the modest femme," shared a photo of the Hipster Hijabis blogger named Summer who promotes "hijabis with trendy yet modest fashion wear."
The photo showed the woman wearing a Hijab, a headscarf that mature Muslim women wear outdoors, and a limelight maxi. "How cool to see the #hipster #hijab take on our #skirtleggings!" Mimu Maxi wrote.
The post struck a chord in some, who politely (and some impolitely) expressed their opinion on the "insensitivity" and "timing" of the photo.
"Definitely not the right timing!" wrote hair stylist Esty Prus, echoing a comment by Rivky G. who said that while accepting other cultures is nice, posting this photo was ill-timed. "You know that Israelis are living in bomb shelters now," she noted.
Another, wrote to COLlive: "Let's face it, Israel is currently under attack, and people, our own brothers and sisters, are living in fear! Many people, who will scroll down their feed and suddenly see a Muslim woman in garb on a frum clothing page, will, initially, be appalled.
"There may have been nothing wrong if the photo was posted in a different time and place, however, it was posted in a time when our brothers need our support. "
In response to the criticism, Mimu Maxi owners Mimi Hecht and Mushky Notik posted the following on their Facebook page:
Dear Friends, Family, Customers and Followers,
Last night, MIMU MAXI posted a picture of a Muslim fashion blogger wearing our "Limelight" maxi skirt, paired with modest layers and the Muslim Hijab head covering. It was a "regram" of her own outfit post, a response that was due to her at this time, after we chose to collaborate.
As MIMU MAXI has customers from all over the world--comprised of mostly Jewish but a growing number of Muslim and Christian customers as well--it was exciting for us to share a Muslim modest fashion blogger's style-take on our design. It was modest. It was feminine. It was beautiful.
The post received a disproportionate number of "likes" and lots of beautiful open support, highlighting the integrity and openness of the majority of our followers and customer base. That did not go unnoticed.
At the same time, a different kind of response from a number of our Jewish followers was truly alarming. Although we understand the visceral reaction, we were shocked to see women immediately pit themselves against us, essentially accusing us of being insensitive, putting our business above morals and threatening to "unfollow" and never purchase from us again -- effectively "copying" the way of Israel/Jewish haters by boycotting a beautiful, holy Jewish business!
In Judaism, especially the teachings of Chabad, we learn that our immediate reactions and thoughts must be tamed with thoughtfulness and intellect. It is this exact way of thought that supported our intuition to post the picture in the first place. And it was this type of thought that was sorely lacking in some of the comments posted to our Instagram page (some of which I was forced to delete, out of sheer embarrassment that our non-Jewish followers should see them).
This was heavy on my heart, so I decided to call my longtime Mashpia (mentor), a world-renown Rabbi, educator, Shliach (Chabad emissary) and scholar Rabbi Manis Friedman.
Rabbi Friedman immediately reminded us that it is a MITZVAH for Muslim women to keep Tznius (modesty.) As a light unto the nations, any Jewish support of modesty in the world at large should be promoted, should be encouraged. Modesty of the women of the world is a GOOD thing. The farther and more "foreign" the reach, the better. Collaboration on this essential value is important and must be embraced by the Jewish community.
On the issue of this post coinciding with war in Israel, Rabbi Friedman helped me realize even deeper: This was in many ways, on a more essential and "soul" level, the BEST time because this kind of collaboration and awareness is a huge component in fighting ignorance and hatred towards Jews. In times of upheaval, our unity and shared values--wherever they DO exist--should be highlighted and celebrated.
He then shared the story of someone who came to the Rebbe upset that the Israeli government subsidizes every single Palestinian birth in Israel. "How could they?!" The Rebbe responded calmly, but with surprise, reminding his guest that this is (again) a GOOD thing because they have the mitzvah and are obliged to "be fruitful and multiply."
And this is what Jews do: promote Mitzvot. We support and embrace and propagate values that are good and right, for ALL people, irrelevant of any circumstances between us. We cannot adopt the unequivocal mode of hate our enemies have fashioned for us. Rabbi Friedman reminded us of all this, emphasizing these JEWISH values and supported us in being unapologetic in responding to our Jewish followers who reacted so hatefully.
Mushky and I are happy and proud to have "hosted" this blogger on our page, yes at this exact time, and we stand by this decision 100%. Summer is a modest fashion blogger from Missouri who shares some of our deepest values and did not deserve the ensuing response simply by collaborating with us on a beautiful shared cause that we are ALL meant to embrace...more than ever...especially now.
Mimi and Mushky