High-street clothes retailer H&M has apologised for any offence after Jewish shoppers raised awareness about the sale of a white scarf with black stripes which closely resembles a tallit, or Jewish prayer shawl. 

The tallit lookalike, retailing for £12.99, is being sold as a “striped scarf”.

The tallit lookalike, retailing for £12.99, was being sold as a “striped scarf”.

The Swedish retail chain said the item will no longer be sold in Israel, adding: “We are truly sorry if we have offended anyone with this piece. Everyone is welcome at H&M and we never take a religious or political stand.” 

In comments made to Women’s Wear Daily, the retailer said: “Our intention was never to upset anyone. Stripes is one of the trends for this season and we’ve been inspired by this.”

The design drew attention on social media, with the company also selling a similar poncho. 

The tallit lookalikes, retailing for £12.99 and £14.99 respectively, are sold as a “striped scarf” but are almost identical in appearance to the garment worn by religious Jews, right down to the “fringed sides”.

The tallit, traditionally worn by worshippers during prayer, takes its appearance from the book of Numbers (15:37-40), when the Israelites are commanded to put tzitzit (fringes) on their clothes, to remind them of God’s laws.