hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jun. 10th, 2009 11:08 pm)
Barbie made it onto Sociological Images! A while ago.

In other news, our building apparently has mice. This is BAD. Aside from being generally insanitary, mice like to eat parchment. So I am going to have to collect up all the various bits of parchment I have around the place and put them in strongholds, as well as tupperwaring all the stuff in the kitchen. This is tedious.
There is a stage during the making of Tefillin Barbies where they have both arms stuck out in front of them, so that I can glue stuff on easily. They creep me out a bit at this stage.

And now they can creep you out too! Imagine them all going "BRAAAAIIIIINNNSSSSS"


I actually think this picture expresses beautifully the feelings of those who are worried that boys' participation in Judaism is declining catastrophically since the introduction of egalitarianism. This is sometimes called "The Boy Crisis In Judaism," or "the feminization of liberal Judaism," a statistical imbalance massively distorted by the fear that hordes of women will descend on everyone and suck out their brains. Or something.

(Linked at Jewess.)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 12th, 2009 09:39 pm)
passover barbieI've always enjoyed this sort of thing. Making miniatures, I mean, not Judaising Barbie, that's just a side-effect. These days, now I have a scanner and a super-duper colour printer, it's so easy...back in the days of dot-matrix printers, you had to find little images in magazines and flyers and so on, and there was always a certain sense of glee when you found something you could turn into a miniature. Now, I want to make a box of matzah, I can just scan a box of matzah...

passover barbieAnyway, this is Passover Barbie. She eats Streit's matzah, and not just because it's pink.

To make your own box of Barbie matzah you will need:
Measure, mark, and cut four pieces of corrugated cardboard 30mm*27mm. Tape them together in a bundle. These are your matzot (hahaha, insert matzah/cardboard joke of choice here).

Print and cut out the scanned wrapper. You can see where the folds would be in real life - fold along those. Pre-folding it makes wrapping the cardboard matzah in its wrapper much easier; it is a bit fiddly. Wrap it up; glue the wrapper into place as you go, or you can tape it if you're careful to tape the whole box evenly all over (if you don't, it just looks a bit silly). The 27mm is the vertical dimension, but you probably figured that out already.

I don't want to take commissions for these...I appreciate that not everyone has hands that can do fiddlies, but as fiddlies go it's quite an easy one, so there are lots of people out there who can do it, and chances are you know one of them.
If you hate the cat on your Tefillin Barbie, you can soak it off with acetone. Acetone is most easily obtainable as nail polish remover. Get the cat good and wet, give it a couple of minutes, and then scrape it off.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jul. 21st, 2008 11:26 pm)

Song of Songs, 2:9.

דּוֹמֶה דוֹדִי לִצְבִי אוֹ לְעֹפֶר הָאַיָּלִים הִנֵּה זֶה עוֹמֵד אַחַר כָּתְלֵנוּ מַשְׁגִּיחַ מִן הַחַלֹּנוֹת מֵצִיץ מִן הַחֲרַכִּים

My love is like a gazelle or a young stag. See, he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattice.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 27th, 2008 12:01 pm)
Latest press: Hatam Soferet post Should All Barbies Wear Tefillin? appears in the Spring 2008 issue of CJ: Kolot - Voices of Conservative and Masorti Judaism.*

* (note snappy title)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 13th, 2008 09:19 am)
If you're thinking of going as Tefillin Barbie this Purim

Please don't use real tefillin.

If you were going as a Torah reader, you wouldn't use a real Torah. Torahs are holy objects. Tefillin are also holy objects.

Please, if you're dressing up as someone wearing tefillin, make some fake tefillin with some cardboard, black paint, and ribbon.
Jewish Women's Archive - Go & Learn

Tefillin Barbie: Considering gender and ritual garb

Do women in your community wear tefillin and tallit when they pray? Do you? For many, the relationship between gender and ritual garb is still evolving, as women and men consider their personal and communal associations with these objects and practices. This edition of Go & Learn uses the provocative image of "Tefillin Barbie" – created in 2006 by soferet (ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman – to explore issues of gender, ritual, and body image.

We have created 3 lesson plans based on "Tefillin Barbie."

* For youth:
Tefillin Barbie: Body image and gender roles in Judaism (PDF)
* For family/congregational education:
Barbie wears Tefillin, do you? Exploring ritual garb (PDF)
* For adults:
Barbie lays Tefillin: Discussing women and Jewish ritual (PDF)

The rest of it's rather impressive, as well. I'm entirely charmed by the JWA's choosing to use my work as a springboard for discussing some really fundamental issues.
Tefillin Barbie 1 I often get asked "Do you think women should wear tefillin?"

Let's contextualise. Do I think all women should wear tefillin? No. For starters, I certainly don't think non-Jewish women should be required to wear tefillin.

All Jewish women? No. Tefillin are traditionally a men's thing; there are plenty of communities where gender roles are still rigidly defined and those communities are quite happy that way. Expecting these women to wear tefillin would be an alien cultural imposition. It would be like saying that Europeans should observe Thanksgiving - absolutely, ridiculously, acontextual.

All Jewish women in communities where gender roles are not so rigidly defined? Likewise no. There are plenty of egalitarian communities where the language of "should" is inappropriate. Any community which does not define itself as bound by the halakhic system will view the wearing of tefillin as optional. Expecting women or men in these communities to wear tefillin is akin to saying that Americans should celebrate Hallowe'en - clearly an inappropriate expectation since Hallowe'en is optional. It's not your place or mine to pass comment on whether someone should dress up and pass out candy, and likewise it's not our place to comment on whether someone who doesn't see himself as bound by commandments should be observing this particular aspect of ritual commandment. Whether he does or whether he doesn't, his choice is legitimate and deserves respect.

In communities which are professedly egalitarian and bound by halakha? Yes, I think women in these communities should be expected to wear tefillin.

The present practice of having egalitarian prayer but only expecting men to wear tefillin is shameful. The message is either that tefillin do not matter, which in a professedly halakhic community is resoundingly inappropriate, or that egalitarianism has different requirements for men and for women, which devalues egalitarianism.

So yes, in communities which accept halakha - including as it does the commandment to wear tefillin - as binding, and which aspire to accord equal rights and responsibilities to men and to women, I think that women should wear tefillin. The alternative is an egalitarianism which not only devalues egalitarianism but devalues Judaism, by demonstrating that egalitarianism is not much more than a feeble sop to women's feelings, and a sop, at that, obtained by discarding ritual structure.

By tacitly exempting women from wearing tefillin, these communities admit that the women do not really have the same communal status as men, since all rights come with attendant responsibilities, and in any community responsibility is what is significant in the long term. If we exempt women but wish everyone to be equal, everyone must be exempt, which says that tefillin - and by extension all commandments, which form the underlying structure of this community's Judaism - can be dispensed with. Egalitarianism is at best a fundamental development which elevates women to the same societal plane as men. This egalitarianism produces only the illusion of elevation, or levels the planes by razing the structure.

I happen to fall in the segment of the Jewish world which wants to retain halakhic structure, but wishes to see men and women as comparable elements of that structure, which is to say having comparable responsibilities and rights. Whom we expect to wear tefillin is illustrative of how we are choosing to value the one against the other. If we expect women to wear tefillin, and apply a similar attitude to other aspects of both egalitarianism and halakha, we will be further towards creating a strong halakhic structure through which both men and women may move freely. This is the context in which I think women should wear tefillin.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 22nd, 2007 10:13 pm)
Cloning - it's the new thing. Never be one short of a minyan, ever again!

Clone Minyan

Well, if you're making a zillion Barbies, you might as well have a bit of fun, right?

Scenes from the Barbie tefillin factory )
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 10th, 2007 09:02 pm)
There are wee tallitot and tefillin and Torahs all over my desk. I am very busy doing Barbies, and I want toast for lunch because it is fast. But I haven't had time to wash and put away the Pesach dishes and turn the kitchen back to normal, because that takes a long time and I am busy. This means that toast is out of the question and I have to keep eating damn matzah, even though it's not Pesach any more. This irritates me. However, now I am going out to purchase a hacksaw, which will be satisfying. I could use it to cut the matzah.
Yay tefillin donations! Someone went to look at Barbie, and had a sniff round my site, and offered to donate his old tefillin to my women's tefillin gemach. Isn't that nice?

A gemach is a charity which lends things to people in need. Sometimes it's basic stuff like plates, sometimes it's wedding dresses, sometimes it's furniture, and sometimes it's tefillin. Men who can't afford tefillin can borrow some from a tefillin gemach for as long as they need them. But women can't, because gemachen don't exist in the liberal Jewish movements (so far as I know) and the liberal movements are the only places where they're interested in women laying tefillin. Bit of a bind, as it were. So I'm working on doing something about it. Slowly, as yet, but working on it. And lovely people who donate tefillin completely out of the blue are a vital component.

Thank you, tefillin donator!
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 1st, 2007 08:25 pm)
Barbie in the Forward

...what happened to feminism? To self-respect? To Barbies who aspired to becoming doctors and lawyers, to filling the ranks of other distinguished and, yes, decently clothed occupations?

Just as I was about to give in to despair about the state of things, a new Barbie crossed my path via the Internet: Tefillin Barbie....A witty comment on contemporary American Jewish life where opportunities for enhanced religiosity exist alongside the claims of pop culture and the exigencies of tradition, Tefillin Barbie seems to me to strike just the right balance between playfulness and high purpose.

Ain't that lovely?
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Feb. 28th, 2007 01:08 pm)
With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] amechad: Barbie features on Cross Currents...
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Feb. 22nd, 2007 03:49 pm)
My first magazine cover - a milestone in any girl's life, wouldn't you agree? Barbie's also in the Jewish Week this week. This whole business is entirely fascinating. The Jewish Week in particular; the commercial angle they take is quite remarkable for what it says about preoccupation with possessions. I don't think of her that way, personally.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jan. 23rd, 2007 09:53 pm)
By hokey, Tefillin Barbie has a Wikipedia page. And I didn't write it. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] pseudomonas for the pointer.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2006 08:12 pm)
Here, this is a good one:

I get a rambling email accusing me of all kinds of horrid things, telling me how I'm (via Barbie) profaning the writer's beliefs, desecrating the name of God, mocking, creating animosity, nurturing anti-Jew feelings amongst non-Jews, being repulsive, disgusting, disrespectful, etc - and I think well, okay, maybe you think that, but ranting at me isn't going to make me want to be like you.

So I file it under "hatemail" (I'm keeping them; it'll make a fun chapter when I write the book), and then the last sentence catches my eye. "Why not create peace and respecting everyone by allowing them to believe as they please, instead of radically spreading this hatred!!!"

Why not, indeed.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2006 07:15 pm)
I do get a bit tired of people saying "Modern Orthodox women don't wear tefillin," because it simply isn't true. You know? You could say "In my experience, MO women don't wear tefillin," or "It's very unusual for an MO woman to wear tefillin," or "MO women who wear tefillin are freaks" (if you must), but don't make sweeping generalisations which aren't true and then expect me to take you seriously.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Nov. 1st, 2006 07:43 am)
To persons in Britland this weekend: please can someone snag a copy of the JC? They're apparently running an article about Tefillin Barbie, and I'm curious to see what Anglo-Jewry has to say. I don't have a subscription to the online version, so I'm relying on you, people!