Categorized | Lighter Side, USA

Jewish trivia quiz: Whole Foods

By Mark D. Zimmerman

Mark D. Zimmerman

MELVILLE, New York — It was just announced that grocery store chain Whole Foods is being acquired by Amazon for $13.4 billion. Whole Foods once found themselves in the middle of which of the following Jewish-related controversies?

A. In 2015, charges were leveled against the Whole Foods store at Columbus Circle in New York when Jewish employees were told that they would not be paid for days missed as a result of the Jewish holidays. Specifically, some workers who had used up their personal days attempted to use sick days for the additional days of work which they had to miss. A company spokeswoman said that while the company respected the rights of Jewish employees to take off work for religious holidays, “being Jewish” was not a medical condition, and therefore, sick days could not be applied. The case is currently in the courts and remains unresolved.

B. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey was the co-chair of the executive board of the Center for Integral Wisdom, a think tank whose mission is to partner with “leading thought leaders and change agents to transform and evolve the source code of culture through application of ‘The Universe: A Love Story’ principles.” The organization’s founder, Marc Gafni, a former Orthodox rabbi, found himself in the middle of a sex scandal, leading to an online petition calling for Mackey to disassociate himself from the controversial Gafni. In 2016, Mackey removed all online connections between Whole Foods and Gafni, though he maintains a personal relationship with him and the Center for Integral Wisdom.

C. Controversy arose in 2008 when it became known that Whole Foods had removed Israeli products from the shelves of their store in Detroit and replaced them with halal products. A spokesman for the company said that this was in no way a political decision, but that it simply reflected the population who shopped at that particular location, where there is a large Muslim population. They pointed out that the Israeli products were readily available at their Bloomfield Hills location, where the Jewish population is centered. However, after calls for boycotts by many in the Jewish community, Whole Foods restored the Israeli products to the shelves at their Detroit store.

D. In July 2016, the Whole Foods location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn co-sponsored a “Kosher Food Fair” with the Chabad of North Brooklyn, offering a wide variety of Israeli and certified-kosher products. Chabad even kashered the store’s kitchen so that cooked kosher foods could be made and sold. However, as an accommodation to the local religious community, the store designated one checkout aisle for men only, so that ultra-Orthodox men could avoid standing in a line with women (including less modestly dressed women who were shopping in the store on the hot summer day). When the word got out, a protest was quickly organized in front of the store, leading to an apology by store management and the removal of the segregated line.

E. Near the end of 2011, Whole Foods opened a new store in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington, DC. Washington Post reporter Jessica Goldstein reported on the store’s Hanukkah display, which featured matzah and matzah ball mix. Wrote Goldstein, “What Whole Foods is really displaying is a casual kind of ignorance for which there is no excuse…Even a Jew who only knows about Hanukkah and Passover from Rugrats or a shiksa who’s seen The Prince of Egypt could give you the rundown.”

Link to answer:
http://rrrjewishtrivia.com/answers/whole-foods-answer.html

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Zimmerman is the author of the Rashi, Rambam and Ramalamadingdong series of Jewish trivia e-books. Learn more at http://www.rrrjewishtrivia.com.

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