Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meet Rebecca

Remember how pissed I was about American Girl retiring Samantha? They haven't entirely won be back yet, but I am interested in their new Jewish-American doll, Rebecca Rubin.

One thing I will say about American Girl--they take a lot of care in developing their historical dolls. With Native American Kaya, they did a lot of research with various tribes in order to find one that would have valued girls as members of the community in the 1600s. And it sounds like the same care has been taken with Rebecca.

"The preliminary research that led to Rebecca’s development started in 2000, said Shawn Dennis, the senior vice president for marketing. American Girl had wanted to do a doll focused on the immigrant experience. After work by two in-house historical researchers, and interviews with focus groups, it was decided to make the character Jewish.

'Russian-Jewish immigration, that group has an effect on the labor movement, that group has an effect on the burgeoning Hollywood entertainment business,' Ms. Dennis said. 'We thought it would have the makings of what would be a relatable story to tell.'"

I think this is a good move. When I worked at one of the American Girl stores, a girl came up to me and asked if we had any more menorahs. (Former 'Girl of the Year' doll Lindsey was Jewish.) It made me so sad to say no! As a ten year-old, I loved the holiday books; this little girl didn't get the same experience. Until now.

Of course, it is also weird that Rebecca lives in a New York tenement and the doll is priced around $95. But as long as it teaches girls about lives different than their own, that's the important thing.

Even so, I still want them to bring back Samantha.