Barbie Wears Tefillin, Do You? Exploring Ritual Garb
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Barbie Wears Tefillin, Do You? Exploring Ritual Garb

Lesson Summary:

Explore Jewish tradition and ritual garb with a picture of Tefillin Barbie, created by soferet (female ritual scribe) Jen Taylor Friedman. Through interviews, discussion, and craft activities, students can think about which Jewish practices are most meaningful to them.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. In Judaism, religious and cultural traditions are often dictated by aspects of identity such as age and gender. 
  2. Wearing ritual garments create deeper meaning and connection to ritual practice for some people. People have the power to shape their own identities and the traditions in their communities.

Essential Questions:

  1. How do people use actions to express their beliefs? 
  2. How can wearing ritual garb impact our religious/spiritual practice? 
  3. How do people s traditions or religious practices change over time? 
  4. In Judaism, how does one s gender identity impact the way one practices traditions or observes holidays?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


(materials available via link in procedure section, below)

  • Examples of ritual garb (tallit, tefillin, etc.) to show to students 
  • copies of photo of Tefillin Barbie 
  • copies of excerpt from Ruth Handler s obituary
  • sample questions for family interview activity (prepare ahead of time or brainstorm as a group) 
  • guest speaker to talk about changes around ritual within your community (like a rabbi or cantor)
  • craft supplies for creating kippot, tallitot, tying tzitzit, or making paper dolls.


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

•Participants will know the norms around wearing ritual garb in their own communities and will describe the relationship between gender and ritual garb in their community.
• Participants will be able to explain how ritual garb can change or enhance one s spiritual or religious observance.
• Participants will be able to identify their goals and desires around wearing ritual garb or participating in Jewish ritual.


Lesson Contributors

The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national public history organization dedicated to telling the stories of Jewish women and inspiring change and inclusivity in communities everywhere. The collections and encyclopedia on invite learners of all ages to connect with role models from history and today. Nearly 100 lesson plans for kids, families, and adults help Jewish educators weave stories about identity and activism into programs about Jewish values, holidays, and ritual. And, JWA’s professional development programs and trainings encourage educators to connect with one another to create new ways of engaging the communities they serve. As we say at JWA, “You cannot be what you cannot see,” so check us out anytime, anywhere, at