Dolls that Embrace the Complexity of Our Ethnic Heritages

There’s a side in all of us that wants to believe in a black-and-white, right-and-wrong understanding of certain issues. And there’s also a side in all of us that has to acknowledge how life is often too complicated for simple binary “either or” equations. As the world moves toward greater complexity, those who can embrace diversity are better suited to thrive—which is why we at JOI have long urged the Jewish community to recognize, accept and embrace the many different ways people connect to their Jewish identities. It’s also why we are encouraged when we see others embracing complex Jewish identities, like the makers of a new line of “Mixed-Race Collectible Play Dolls” called “Mixis.”

Among the multi-heritage dolls offered is “Rosa Dominguez Katz, who is Latina and Jewish and known as ‘a bookworm who likes to dance.’” While I can’t help but wonder if being a bookworm is a bit of a philo-semitic stereotype—and of course there are plenty of Jews who are “Latin and Jewish” because their families have lived in Latin countries for centuries and not because they’re born to mixed parentage—it’s still great to see a toy company offer the opportunity for parents to demonstrate to their children that ethnicity is increasingly complex and no longer “either or” for many Americans. In her “bio,” Rosa “writes”:

At thirteen I had my Bat Mitzvah and at fifteen I had my Quinceañera — you can say I came of age twice. My family came from Mexico and as far as Israel to celebrate with me. My grandmothers bonded and were the life of the parties. I will cherish these memories forever.

Preparing for my big days taught us a lot about the two cultures. This got me thinking about the traditions of other cultures outside of my own.

• Made of vinyl…

This commercial toy company clearly recognizes that there is a growing market for diversity. Does the organized Jewish community?

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