Jewish Journal

Barbie and the Jews

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 11, 2008 | 9:24 am

I know Peter Coyote as head of the Jewish Justice League in “Hebrew Hammer.” Not a good movie, but worthy a rental. A more resonant film on Coyote’s resume—also about the American Jewish experience—is “The Tribe.” The documentary traces the Jewish people from Abraham to Sacha Baron Cohen and uses the history of the Barbie doll, whose mother was Jewish, to ask: “What does it mean to be an American Jew today?”

“The Tribe’s” editing is clever and the non-linear narration enhances some humorous clips. The short has won countless awards and been the subject of a healthy dose of newspaper articles during the past three years, and now it’s available on YouTube, which

Danielle Berrin

The Web Guy mentioned the other day and I embedded after the jump.

It’s worth the cost—nothing—and the 17 minutes it will take you to watch it. The last five minutes, in particular, focus on the diverse identities of the New Jews, both in terms of supporting Israel:

These Jews may not be sure how they feel about Israel. To their parents, Israel was clearly heroic. for today’s young Jews, things may look less clear. When speaking to those who aren’t Jewish, they may defend it. But internally, they may be unsure. They can believe in Israel and not agree with all of its politics, just as they can believe in America and not agree with all its politics. Among their Jewish friends, they don’t really talk about it.

And how they describe themselves:

“I’m an agnostic.”


“I’m an American.”


“I’m Jewish.”


“I’m a feminist.”


“A Jewess.”


“I’m unaffiliated.”


“I’m a bad Jew.”


“I’m a bad Jew.”

Some, who rather than saying they are a Jew, might prefer to say they are “Jew-ish.” Before answering they may ask: “Who wants to know? Are you Jewish?”

I’m not much for the slam poetry that follows, but the message of the woman, who has been told she doesn’t look Jewish and doesn’t act Jewish, is salient. The film is after the jump. Watch it.

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