A barber in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan is offering an usual deal: a pre-Passover haircut for Jews. The cost of the cut, the New York Daily News reports, is just $12—a $3 discount from the usual $15 price.
Miguel Sanchez, who advertised the deal on a hand-written sign outside his barber shop on Broadway and West 187th St., told the Daily News that more than 20 Jewish customers had since stopped in for a trim. Still, his promotion drew criticism from locals, largely because it appeared to directly offer a discount to a specific group of people, which in addition to being kind of tacky is also discriminatory.
Sanchez even wrote “only Jewish” at the bottom of the outdoor poster, making it clear that gentiles still had to pay the full $15 fee for a trim.
“I am not being racist,” Sanchez said. “I am just giving a good price for your holiday. If you want to pay $15 it’s up to you.”
He has since changed the wording of the sign to no longer specify “only Jewish,” so now anyone who wants to get a pre-Passover haircut can presumably do so freely. Dayenu!
Sanchez may actually be onto something, though. Washington Heights, a prominently Dominican neighborhood, is newly home to one of the most rapidly growing Jewish populations in New York City. From a business perspective, it makes sense to reach out to this new swath of potential customers (the grocery store across the street has apparently expanded their kosher section and stays open late on Thursday nights). The key, however, seems to be an almost artful subtlety—you know, not playing to the whole ‘Jews are thrifty’ thing on a big sign outside your shop.
Still, it’s a damn good deal. But there’s no need to rush over to Chano Barber Shop just yet. Passover doesn’t start until the evening of April 14, so you’ve got some time.
Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.