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Zara's shatnez mistake

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-05-23

Zara store

Zara store

Fashion giant Zara has issued a formal apology to orthodox Jews in Israel after selling men's suits that breach the Jewish law of not wearing clothing that mixes wool and linen.

The Spanish company, owned by Inditex Group, is licenced in Israel to Africa Israel Group and has become the leading clothing retailer in the country with 15 stores, 900 employees and sales of £170m a year.

Africa Israel Group is chaired by orthodox billionaire and diamond mogul Lev Leviev and its Zara division has placed advertisements in the orthodox media offering an apology as well as offering to cover the cost of testing and removing the shatnez from the suits.

Around 50 orthodox men complained when they discovered the suits had contained shatnez.

"Zara regrets its mistake and assures its clients in Israel, particularly its orthodox clients, that it will do everything in its power to make sure the mistake is not repeated," the company said in a statement.

A number of reasons are given for the reasoning behind the Shatnez law these include priests of idol worshipping religions would wear items of clothing made of wool and linen and so Jews would not want to wear similar clothing.

In an Ask The Rabbi section on the Ohr Somayach International website, it is also explained: "Cain killed Abel as an outcome of these two species. Cain offered flax-linen and Abel brought an offering from his "woolly" sheep. We are therefore instructed not to join those two types of material as a constant reminder of this incident and will thereby take care not to cause separation and hate between people."