As they walk through the door, JWA visitors are greeted by Rebecca Rubin, a nine-year-old Jewish American immigrant from 1914. Not to be confused with Rebecca Rubin, the fugitive, indicted for arson in 2006 according to her FBI WANTED poster, this Rebecca Rubin is the Jewish American Girl™ Doll. According to the story told in her companion book Meet Rebecca, Rebecca’s family emigrated from Russia to the Lower East Side in New York.
While JWA has no affiliation with American Girl™, and we feel uncomfortable with the doll’s stiff $105.00 price, we think she’s a starting point for discussion about Jewish American identity. Her hair and eye color sparked debates about what it means to “look Jewish,” and her story (she dreams of becoming an actress and, in one book, participates in a labor strike) raises questions about how we define the “typical” Jewish experience in America.