IKEA hit with lawsuit over female-free catalogue for Haredi Jews

IKEA hit with lawsuit over female-free catalogue for Haredi Jews March 8, 2019

BACK IN 2017 furniture giant IKEA distributed a catalogue in Israel that deliberately omitted women or girls because Ultra-Orthodox Jews apparently find images of females ‘offensive’ and ‘unholy’.


IKEA Israel said at the time that the catalogue was produced in response to public demand.

In the light of the inquiries we received, we decided to launch a dedicated and unique magazine that also allows the Haredi and religious public the benefit of enjoying the products and solutions IKEA offers in accordance with their lifestyle.

The absence of women sparked angry reactions online, with one person saying:

Oh this is great. I didn’t know there are single-parent families in the Haredi sector too.

IKEA’s Swedish headquarters responded to widespread condemnation from Israeli rights organizations with an apology, but if it thought the whole thing would blow over, it was dead wrong. Today it’s reported here that the Israeli division of IKEA and its director, Shuki Koblenz have been hit with a $4-million class action lawsuit that says that the exclusion of females:

Sends a serious and difficult message that women have no value and that there is something wrong with their presence, even in the family-home space depicted in the catalog.

Religious modesty and the marginalisation of women have long been flashpoints in Israel, where many Haredi rabbis have deemed it unholy to portray women’s images in everything from newspapers and government notices to billboards and bus ads.

The same rabbis have called for gender segregation on public buses and in other public places.

The Israel Religious Action Center, which filed the suit, has already won gender-discrimination suits against a national bus company and a radio station.

Hannah Katsman via Twitter

Hannah Katsman, the suit’s co-petitioner, said she learned about the 2017 Haredi catalogue after it was left in her mailbox.

She said she objects to the catalogue:

Because it conveys the message that women don’t count and aren’t part of the family.

Yet in reality, she said, women are at the very heart of the typical Haredi home.

Girls growing up in that community don’t see other girls in the media, in ads. It doesn’t portray them having a role. They have been eliminated.

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  • French Pandora

    I wonder, does the Haredis have special religious books without women, or two separate sets to respect gender segregation ?

  • Broga

    How do they procreate. If women are not allowed in a catalogue, are they allowed in the same bed?

  • Michael Neville

    By the time I was ten I knew that girls didn’t have cooties. It appears that the Haredi aren’t as wise as a ten year old.

  • Ruth Anastacia Adamcik

    Actually, no. Haredi couples sleep in separate beds because the wife becomes “impure” with every menstrual period or childbirth, and the husband would become impure if he touches her. Sex is only allowed after women either stop menstruating for one week or are 40 days post-partum, and they take their “mikvahs” (ritual baths).

  • Ruth Anastacia Adamcik

    Haredi women are not merely the heart of the home, they are completely responsible for kosher housekeeping and childcare. Many Haredi men in Israel sit on their asses all day studying scripture at the “yeshivas” (religious schools). So, not only are they not helping with childcare, they are not earning any money. Many Haredi are on welfare as a result, and the women are stuck with having to try to earn an income on top of all their other responsibilities. So, this IKEA catalog was a huge slap in the face to Haredi women!

  • Sau Peih

    Plus it would probably the women assembling the damn Ikea furniture!