No, Barbie is not Jewish—but she’s still part of Jewish history

"Tefillin Barbie" was created in 2006, transforming the popular doll into a Jewish symbol that matched her creator's heritage. But is the doll as Jewish as Jewish media is claiming? (Photo courtesy of Jen Taylor Friedman)

By now, you’ve probably seen the takes: “Barbie is secretly Jewish,” “Meet the Jewish woman who created Barbie,” yadda yadda. Let’s be honest: there’s nothing especially Jewish about Barbie. It’s a very gentile-looking doll that, despite her various impressive careers (astronaut, doctor, Olympic athlete), represents a physically impossible body type attached to a pleasingly vacant smile. But while Barbie’s secret Jewish life may simply be a dream for Jewish doll lovers, the same could be said of any young person’s favourite character, franchise or, even, as Avi and Phoebe discuss on today’s episode of Bonjour Chai, the Torah itself: a canvas on which audiences will expand, build and tell their own stories.

After dissecting the real Jewish underpinnings of the new Barbie film, the hosts analyze the deeper meaning behind Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s latest antisemitic conspiracy theory and introduce a new way for you, dear listener, to get hot takes from the Bonjour Chai: our new Substack newsletter.


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast or donating to The CJN.