Dressing Up: Religion and Ethnicity in Israeli National Dolls

Maya Balakirsky Katz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers Israel's national image both at home and abroad through the framework of Israeli costume dolls, looking specifically at the way that gender played a role in Israel's national image as it travelled from domestic production to international reception. Initially, predominantly female doll makers produced three main types of Israeli dolls, but over time the religious Eastern European male doll triumphed in the pantheon of national types. Produced for retail sale to non-Hebrew speaking tourists by immigrant woman, the Eastern European religious male doll came to represent Israel abroad while the market pushed representations of the Middle Eastern Jewish woman and the native sabra child to the side-lines. This article examines the shift from the multi-ethnic collection of dolls as representative of the nation's idea of itself to the privileging of the male Eastern European doll as representative of the normative image of Israel abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-90
Number of pages20
JournalReligion and Gender
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • Disney
  • Dolls
  • Israeli visual culture
  • Maskit
  • Rivka Stark-Avivi
  • sabra


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