Gali Girls ad promotes questionable "Jewish values"

A girl holding a Gali Girls doll.

The creators of the Gali Girls Chanukah video want you to think it's funny. (It actually says "It's Funny" on the website next to the video.)

The cartoon opens with a little girl in a pink midriff top and short pants, wearing make-up and playing with what I gather are supposed to be Barbie dolls. "I want to be just like you," the little girl says, eliciting a gasp for her stereotypical Jewish grandmother, who bemoans the unlikelihood that her granddaughter will grow up with "strong Jewish values" if she keeps playing with these "trashy, scantily clad" (voice of the announcer) dolls.

Gali Girls, which closely resemble the American Girl dolls, are "beautiful," "kind and compassionate" "vibrant," and most importantly, modestly dressed, "not like those other dolls." (When I looked at the outfits sold on the website, I found two that involved pants, all the rest were composed of skirts. There's also a "Sabbath bride" dress, which is frankly creepy. It looks like an actual bridal gown.)

At the end of the advertisement, the once skimpily dressed little girl has transformed into one who wears long sleeved shirts, long skirts (like all the Jewish women in the video) and lights Shabbat candles. Each Gali Girls comes with a Shabbat kit. This, and their modest clothing, are part of the Jewish values that the video assures you will be absorbed by those who play with them.

The Barbie franchise is problematic, to say the least. Her body is unachieveable, the race politics around her are deplorable, and after all this time, Ken is still anatomically incorrect. On the other hand, you know what Barbie has that the Gali Girls don't? Endless possibilities. She's been an astronaut, a rock star, a doctor, a viking princess (I checked the Barbie collector website, it's a thing), a figure skater, and a million other things. She can do and be all these things and still wear whatever she wants. (Barbie was also created by Ruth Mosko Handler, a Jewish woman.)

The truth is, even if we’re talking about a more nefarious doll, like one from the Bratz collection, perpetuating the idea that the way a woman dresses means she shouldn’t be taken seriously, or that she deserves to be ridiculed, discarded or harmed is misogyny at its worst. The Gali Girls are supposed to inspire pride in Jewish girls, but the foundation of this pride is the devaluing of other women and girls who do not look and dress like them. ("What do Gali Girls got that we don't got?" wonder the other dolls after they’ve been abandoned for the supposedly more morally upstanding ones. “Uh, clothes?” says the teddy bear in the corner.)

Surely there’s a better way to sell Jewish values, since apparently, we have to be in the business of selling them. Gali Girls come with a Shabbat kit, but what if she came with a book or a protest sign or a tool box? What if her Jewish identity was built on something besides the value of being modest? What if what made her Jewish was not the way she dressed, or her frumkeit, but the story and the identity that a girl gave to her? Indulge me, here. What if she could be anyone she wanted?

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I honestly think you missed the point. "What if what made her Jewish was not the way she dressed, or her frumkeit, but the story and the identity that a girl gave to her?"

First of all, Gali Girls are not frum. Nowhere does it say they are frum and my non-frum friends and I have enjoyed seeing our girls play with these dolls and their 'jewish' accessories.

The grandma has a legitimate point - she doesn't want her granddaughter thinking the best way to empower herself (as a female) is by showing as much skin as possible. And Bratz dolls most definitely promote this idea (consciously or unconsciously...the fact is, it's an MTV generation).

The main point is pride in being JEWISH. This doesn't mean they can't be astronauts or physicists or rock stars. It just means that if they are going to be one of these things, it's ok to be Jewish as well! (The absence of a million "career" outfits doesn't imply she can't be what she wants to be. I'm guessing it means Gali Girls isn't as large as Mattell with as many offerings.)

Gali Girls are a great alternative to the 'barely dressed at all no matter what religion you are' Bratz dolls and far more affordable than the $100 American Girl dolls. If you looked, you would also see that Rebecca Rubin is a total rip off of a historical doll called Miriam that Gali Girls have been offering for years now (down to the same year, 1914!)

And for the record - they come with books -

I think it is nice to have a chance at diverse dolls. I have looked all over for a barbie doll from Israel.Turkish Jews /gypsy are rare with Irish dads so I found the Renya doll which I just ordered for my week I'll buy the Miriam doll.I wish there was more dolls to choose from. Israel does not have a toy companies I guess.I looked for israeli toys.

People would be much better off with the American Girl dolls. The historical Rebecca Rubin, the Jewish character, struggles between what her parents expect (that she will be a teacher) and what she wants, at ten years old, to become (an actress). The story follows her trying to make the world a better place (factory conditions in 1915) and figure out her place as the second-youngest in a family of five children. (And for the record, she isn't dressed scantily,either.)

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How to cite this page

Dubofsky, Chanel. "Gali Girls ad promotes questionable "Jewish values"." 23 December 2011. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 22, 2024) <>.