December 6, 2001
Barbie clothes, Judah Maccabee doll highlight Chanukah gift ideas for kids.
Monica Garcia had her daughter-to-be in mind when she designed a modest line of Barbie clothing while she was pregnant last year.
"Barbie is a slut," she says. Some people "want a doll that's dressed appropriately."
Garcia, who converted to Judaism four years ago, started the line of handsewn, brightly colored clothing when she was pregnant last year.
The clothes move Barbie from flirty to frummy.
Unlike much of the standard Barbie line, most of the clothes are loose fitting and made out of cotton and satin. The clothes often have details such as bows or buttons.
"I didn't like the way Barbie was dressed," says Garcia, who has about 100 customers -- equally split between Jews and Christians.
Garcia, who currently works as a longshoreman in Los Angeles by day, hopes to add a line of accessories such as hats and purses -- and maybe one day create her own doll.
When asked what that doll would look like, Garcia said, "She would not be blond. She would be a brunette with nice brown eyes."
Garcia's clothes are available at $19.95 at www.msmodesty.com .
If Barbie's scanty clothing motivated Garcia, a lack of Jewish holiday heroes motivated Chicago magician-turned-toy designer Michael Herman to make a Judah Maccabee doll.
"There are so many Jewish heroes," he said, "and I wondered, Why hadn't anyone ever made a hero doll with a Jewish theme?"
Herman's creation is not the first Judah Maccabee doll ever -- but dolls of the Chanukah hero are hard to find.
Even Jewish toy stores have few toys that teach the Chanukah story.
"There's lots of menorahs and dreidels and general Judaica," he said, "but no Judah."
Herman's creation is friendly looking, plush and 18 inches high.
But it's no teddy bear. To emphasize the Chanukah story, the doll is equipped with a removable stuffed sword and shield.
The Chanukah story of the Maccabees' triumph over the Syrian army is printed right on the box.
Among this year's other Chanukah gift offerings for kids:
Hanukah Hoe-Down Bear -- A 9-inch stuffed dreidel-holding bear that sways to the tune of 'I Have a Little Dreidel" ($25).
Stuffed Menorah -- A 9-inch menorah/doll with a smiling face on it and removable candles that can be stored in a special pocket ($12).
Chanukah Magic Dreidel -- A cardboard dreidel-shaped box filled with a selection of Chanukah-themed magic tricks ($49).
Hi-Tech Talking Dreidel -- A dreidel that makes an appropriate comment for each letter the dreidel falls on ($12).
For older children and adults, Danny Levine, the owner of J. Levine Books and Judaica in New York, suggests the "December Dilemma" chess set. The set makes light of Christmas' ubiquitous presence by making half of the pieces symbolize Chanukah and the other half, Christmas. "It pits the Christmas tree against the dreidel, Santa Claus against the Israeli flag, the 'bar mitzvah boy' against the priest," he said. "They're multicultural; and they're not fighting, they're playing." The set is handmade in Brazil ($135).
The above-mentioned items are available at www.levinejudaica.com and www.jewishsource.com.