The Talmud recommends taking the evil inclination into the Jewish study hall. Two Australians have found a different way to sanctify the destructive.
Antoinette Barbouttis, of Sydney, wanted nothing more to do with her collection of clothing featuring one of the recent prominent anti-Semites, Ye (formerly Kanye West). So, she and her friend John Safran, a Jewish-Australian filmmaker and writer, brainstormed how to make kosher lemonade out of hateful lemons.
Safran’s unique idea? Turn the several Ye shirts and a dozen Yeezy shoes into yarmulkes.
“You’re not even breaking our spirit. We’re responding with some weird kind of Jewish self-deprecation by saying, no, we’re here, we’re not tucking in our Stars of David, just because there are spells of anti-Semitism and people are trying to intimidate us into hiding,” Safran told Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service.
After Barbouttis learned of Ye’s hateful rants last fall, she decided she was done. “As soon as it was anti-Semitism, I thought, that’s next level-kind of dangerous,” she said. “I’m not into that.”
The friends teamed up with costume tailor Chrissy Seo to turn Barbouttis’ unwanted collection and Safran’s quirky idea into reality. Making a yarmulke out of thick sneakers isn’t easy, but the tailor didn’t mind.
“I was laughing the whole time,” she said.
Barbouttis is considering selling the three “YEmulkes,” donating a portion of the proceeds to the Jewish community.
No word yet on whether the German shoe company Adidas—which is stuck with $530 million worth of unsellable Yeezy merchandise, and whose net income dropped 83% from 2021 to 2022—finds its own creative way to repurpose its wares.