Whoopi Goldberg’s Chanukah sweater
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Whoopi Goldberg’s Chanukah sweater

Although she isn’t a Member of the Tribe, Whoopi Goldberg may have been feeling inspired by her Jewish-sounding last name when she designed her holiday sweater collection for Lord & Taylor.

The actress’s line of silly sweaters features a multicultural, multispecies cast of characters, including a kippah-wearing octopus that had fashioned itself into a menorah.

Another design depicts a black Santa and a white Santa preparing to kiss; yet another shows a Chrismukkah celebration, with a kippah-wearing, dreidel-holding boy decorating a Christmas tree.

“You can’t call them ‘ugly.’ Mine are kind of ‘funny Christmas sweaters’ or ‘Christmas sweaters with a twist,’” Goldberg told Vogue of the collection. “They are actually quite wonderful, and they feel good.”

In designing the sweaters, Goldberg said she thought about her Jewish friends, who felt left out during the holiday season.

“Most of my Jewish friends are like, ‘The holiday thing is okay, but we are here too!’” she said, adding that she plans to include Kwanzaa- and Ramadan-themed sweaters in next year’s collection.

In creating her inclusive designs, Goldberg probably wasn’t aware that octopus imagery can be associated with anti-Semitism; in the Nazi era, Jews (and those allegedly influenced by Jews) were drawn as octopuses whose tentacles encircled the globe. More recently, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung came under fire in 2014 for publishing a caricature of Mark Zuckerberg as a hook-nosed cephalopod that controls social media.

But we believe that Goldberg’s unisex designs — which will retail for $139 — come from a desire for inclusivity. Maybe it takes a silly sweater to defuse an ugly image.

“The holidays, regardless of what you believe — it should be a day, a week, a month of let’s all be together,” she said. “Silly sweaters can unite us — and what is better than that?”

JTA Wire Service

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