Skip to main content

Dolls and Dolls

Dolls 1:

There she is, smiling, sweet, happy, clutching her live cabbage patch doll to her graduation cap and gown. Bristol Palin has become the poster victim (or child, depending on your outlook) for a variety of strange-bedfellow policies and has been exploited by just about everyone who claims to love her. Her situation is an oxymoronic contradiction: the abstinence-only mentality colliding with “it doesn’t work;” teenagers needing real, solid and correct information on contraception colliding with “well, maybe we did it unprotected sometimes;” so-called “family values” colliding with a father from the wrong side of the tracks; the need for children to have both fathers and mothers in their lives colliding with the reality of a politician’s power to “negotiate” the rights of a father; and the sad reality of a teenager colliding with the perfect picture-bite on the cover of People magazine.

So what is the message our teens are getting from this bizarre, contradictory media circus? Until she and her boyfriend were censored, their message was a sad reality: Abstinence-only education/values are unrealistic because teenagers are hormone-drive creatures who don’t think about the future and don’t believe that it only takes one time to get pregnant. Even as we teach our children that sex is a sacred gift and privilege, not something to be abused or used like hamsters or animals in the meadow that procreate without thinking, we need to be teaching our children how to protect themselves when the urge hits.

But now the message is this massive piece of confusion: Don’t have sex until you’re married because the result could be that I didn’t get to go to my prom and I have this adorable bouncy baby who loves me and I love her and isn’t the baby so sweet and I have my entire family helping me out here, which is a good thing because the daddy doesn’t really matter. Oy.

Our children deserve better than this media charade – and quite frankly, so do Bristol, Levi and their child.

Dolls 2:

On a lighter note, she’s the first of her kind: Rebecca Rubin, the Jewish American Girl doll. Does it matter that the only thing distinguishing her as a Jew from the other American Girl dolls is her hair color and back story? Would it have been better for her to be wearing a magen david, a Star of David, or had her back story revealed that she was an Orthodox Jew living on the Lower East Side, struggling with her religious observance even as she is tempted by assimilation? According to the creators, hers is the more typical story of the immigrant whose family – by necessity – gives up observance for livelihood. The Star probably also had to go because the creators want to sell dolls, and universal looks always trump particularistic traits. I can say this: if my daughter were still young enough to be interested in such things, I’d be buying a Rebecca for her and helping her develop her own Rebecca story. Jewish girls have so few popular culture role models that profess their Judaism publicly that even the remotest glimpse of an obvious Jewish icon is a good thing.

Cantor Penny Kessler
Member: American Conference of Cantors – Clergy committed to Judaism and Jewish music.


Ira Wise said…
It is a shame that the American Doll folks didn;t google their intended name for this doll. will show you Rebecca J. Rubin's wanted poster. She is considered the most dangerous eco-terrorist running free today. Chaval. I just read part of the third Rebecca Rubin (Doll version) books to my niece last night. It was delightful.

Popular posts from this blog

Erev Rosh Hashanah 5777: WAIT

I got the best advice from my son: "Mom, why are you even engaging with these people? Please stop."

I've got people on Facebook who - while holding similar philosophies in some areas - are 180 degrees from me politically. I long ago determined that arguing with these people is counterproductive, only useful if I believe - science notwithstanding - that heartrate-raising arguments is equal to a good cardio workout.

And so my goal for today is to WAIT (by the way, not an original concept - I learned it from Rabbi Andy Sklarz): Why Am I Talking?

Provocateurs and bullies want to be engaged. They poke, someone responds, and the game is afoot. Like fire, they need constant air renewal. So if don't engage, don't respond, they will run out of air.

So for today, I grit my teeth ... and wait.

Elul 23: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 6:50 (Begin)

Someone I knew hated the expression "new beginning" because it was redundant. The argument was that beginning implies new, right?

Not necessarily. A "do-over" is a beginning of sorts that acknowledges that the first try got muffed up. "Start again, from the beginning" and "begin again" are phrases I use regularly with students and choir singers. A "new" beginning is an attitude, a mindset, an awareness that we have a chance to do something with a fresh take, a new vision. 

Even  בראשית ברא אלוהים, B'reishit bara Elohim, the first words in the Bible, are translated frequently as "when God was beginning," implying that starting this new venture was an ongoing event. It's suggested that God had given this new world thing a go several times already, was about to abandon the effort, and only the angels' intervention gave God the oomph to give it another try ... this time with feeling (as the saying goes).

We're about …

Elul 21: The airline safety guide (Love)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:18)

You shall love the stranger that dwells with you (who will be for you like the native-born among you), as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am Adonai, your God. (Lev. 19:34)

And you shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might ... (Deut. 6:5)

If you've paid attention to your flight attendant, you know that in the event of an emergency, you put your own oxygen mask on first. Only then do you help someone next to you, including a child. Why? Because if you don't have oxygen, you're useless to anyone else.

It's the same with love.

Start by loving and caring for yourself. It's not selfish; it's just a place to start.

Then move outward: your neighbor, your community, the strangers around you.

Then, finally, the realm of God: the spiritual love that holds all the others together.

But it all starts in your own home.