Tefillin Barbie was created by Jen Taylor Friedman when Ms. Friedman saw the long denim skirt on “Halloween Hip Barbie 2006.” With the “frum” skirt, Ms. Friedman wrote on her website, hasoferet.com, “she looked like most of my friends.” (A soferet is a female scribe; the male form is sofer.)
“Accordingly, I figured she ought to be wearing tefillin, just like my friends,” Ms. Friedman continued.
In the years since, Ms. Friedman has sold more than 100 tefillin Barbies, most through her Etsy store.
When not making balsa-wood mock tefillin for dolls, Ms. Friedman is a scribe who hand writes Torah scrolls (four to date), mezuzot, and tefillin, as well as ketubot.
On her website, she warns that “tefillin, like other sacred scrolls, are traditionally held to be invalid if written by women. If you are non-egalitarian, even if you are a woman, tefillin written by a woman cannot be kosher for you, no matter the circumstances. Therefore, even if you are the most feminist of feminist Orthodox women, you should not acquire tefillin written by a soferet. Sorry; them’s the breaks.
“If you are very sure that you reside in the segment of the Jewish world which in principle extends eligibility to write tefillin to women, then you can consider getting tefillin from a soferet. If you do that, please remember not to lend your tefillin to non-egal Jews (men or women), because to them the tefillin will be pasul [invalid] and it will be like feeding them non-kosher food – not a nice thing to do at all.”