Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 Excellent Reasons To Wear A Yarmulke/Kippah/Jew Hat

So that kippah thing that guys wear?  It has a coupla names.

  • "Kippah" is Hebrew.  It means "covering."  Easy enough.  
  • "Yarmulke" is Yiddish, derived from the two Aramaic words "yarei d'malka" which means "reverence for the King" - like, you wear it to demonstrate that there's someone above you.  Like as in Someone, like as in God.  This explains why guys are supposed to wear one - they are less likely to get that there is a God above.  More likely to believe that they are God's gift to humanity - or God himself.
  • Epithets such as "beanie," "Jew-hat" etc.  Fill in your own.  When you or your kid walk around in public with the thing on, you get some interesting comments!

So some people wear them full-time, and some wear them part-time, and some wear them for religious experiences only.  Here are 5 excellent reasons to don the thing.

  1. To cover your bald spot.  Interestingly, some men's yarmulkes (I shall defer to this name as it's the one I'm most used to) grow as their hair shrinks.  Draw your own conclusions.
  2. As an act of solidarity with men who have bald spots.  YOUR hair may be thick and the object of envy, but you don the yarmulke to show support to those friends of yours who have not much hair.  Who really has a bald spot?  Only your hairdresser knows for sure.
  3. Nervous habit.  Much more pleasant than biting your nails or clearing your throat, adjusting your yarmulke is the perfect nervous habit.  Whether you're twisting it on your head (??), moving it higher, lower, or somewhere else entirely, just make sure you don't give away what's under it (see #2).  This works particularly well at uncomfortable meetings and while public speaking.
  4. Religious affiliation.  Your yarmulke declares where on the Ortho-spectrum you fall.  Black velvet?  Yeshivish.  White knit?  Modern-Orthodox/Religous Zionist.  Browns football motif?  Hmmm.  Not sure.  In any case, it's a quick and easy way to avoid a theological conversation surrounding where your sympathies lie. Conversely, you can use this to keep 'em guessing.  One day wear one variety, and next another.  Show your open-mindedness. 
  5. Family ties.  Trying to get into Uncle Louie's good graces?  Wear the green one from his kid Joey's bar mitzvah.  Planning on asking great grandma for a loan for your new business venture?  Wear the pink one from her wedding.  Tip: pretend you didn't realize you were wearing it.
What do you say readers?  Why do you, or don't you, wear a yarmulke?



  1. Personally, the biggest affect of wearing a kippah all the time is it means I am always easily identifiable as a Jew. This means when I give up my seat on the subway, I am performing a kiddush hashem, and if I were to cut off someone in traffic, it would be a chillul hashem. It really results in raising my standard of behavior in public.

  2. Hey, Larry, 10 Points! I'm impressed!
    One time when I was a kid we were out on a family vacation in an area of very low Jewish population. I don't remember where it was as I was very young, but I do remember that some guy my pa was talking to, made him remove the thing to prove he didn't have any horns underneath.
    I was really little and I still don't know if the guy was joking and my father playing along or not. At the time I wasn't sure and now the memory is to vague for me to judge.

  3. I don't EVER wear a kippah...I'm a woman. ;-)

    My husband wears a kippah all the time although he goes with a bandana for yard work and exercise. There are certain places we go where he opts for a baseball cap. In southern Ohio, a kippah gets you some dirty looks.

  4. I was going to go for the obvious "I don't wear a kippah, I'm a woman" (not that you're obvious, Amy, it just seemed like the obvious answer to me) but then I realized that might be seen as flip outside the orthodox world, where I still have close friends who attend my previous shuls where women do wear kippot. I don't wear a kippah because I understand and appreciate the differences between men and women, and highly value those differences. Equal does not mean same in my book. I understand why men are obligated to cover their head with a kippah, and I appreciate the difference that means I do not need to (I cover with a hat, however, so a kippah would seem a bit superfluous, as it would with a sheitel, I think). I no longer feel the need to do everything a man does, but I'm not judging my friends who view it differently.

  5. :) thanks Wendy!!

    Larry, so true, and that is very important. I experience the same, when I am out and about with my kippah-clad boys.

  6. At my husband's work, he has had comments about the coffee filter on his head.

  7. TIA, welcome to OOTOB and that is by far the funniest yarmulke comment I've heard to date!

  8. Hi there,

    Hey wow I am impressed with the reasons shared over here


  9. It's amusing that you admit that some wear a kippah to hide a bald spot! And it's in the number one spot! :)

    Lisa @ Best Kippah

  10. Lis, hi! I doubt anyone wears it for that reason... more tongue-in-cheek... but those that wear it do appreciate the fringe benefits! Welcome to OOTOB!


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