Kippahs are not just Kippahs anymore. The traditional skullcaps worn by Jewish men during study and prayer are turning up in designer versions that can be worn by anyone.
Q: What is a Kippah?
A:The kippah is a head-covering worn by Jewish men and sometimes women. For 15 centuries, the western Jewish head-covering almost always took the form of a black skullcap (exchanged for white on holy days or celebrations) and its sole statement was religious piety. Today, the kippah has become for many either a fashion statement or a declaration of sociological and political affiliation. In general, the larger the kippah, the more observant its wearer (although increased size can also indicate increased hair loss). There is no general agreement about the correct size of a kippah.
Q: What is the origin of the word “Kippah”?
A:The long-used Yiddish word yarmulke probably comes from the Aramaic yira malka, meaning “awe of the King.” It resonates with the religious piety that was once the sole statement made by Jews who covered their heads. The more commonly used term today, however, is kippah, the Hebrew for “dome” – a comfortable and non-religiously charged name-tag which allows Jewish headgear to shout out social, political, ideological and fashion statements, as well.
Q: Why do Jewish people wear kippah?
The purpose of wearing a kippah is to remind us of God, who is the Higher Authority “above us” (Kiddushin 31a). External actions create internal awareness; wearing a symbolic, tangible “something above us” reinforces that idea that God is always watching. The kippah is a means to draw out one’s inner sense of respect for God. To wear a kippah is to proclaim “I am a proud Jew.”
Q: When do Jewish wear kippah?
From a biblical standpoint, only the Kohanim serving in the Temple were required to cover their heads (see Exodus 28:4). Yet for many centuries, the obligatory custom has been for Jewish men to wear a kippah all the time, as the Code of Jewish Law says, “It is forbidden to walk four cubits without a head covering.”
Q: Can women wear kippah?
Yes, they can. Kippah is usually worn at all times by Orthodox Jewish men, and sometimes worn by both men and women in Conservative and Reform communities.
Q: Can non-Jewish wear kippah?
In modern contexts, it is common for non-religious Jews or even non-Jews to wear a simple kippah , or to cover their heads as a sign of respect.
Q: Is creative kippah offensive to orthodox Jewish?
A: No, it is not. Any form of head covering is acceptable according to halakha (Jewish law). There are no hard and fast rules on the subject.
Q: At what point in history did the Jews start wearing the official “Kippah / Yamulkah”?
A: It was instituted in Talmudic times (approximately the second century CE).
Q: How to wear a kippah?
A: Here’s a tutorial video: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xa1wb5_how-to-wear-a-kippah-yarmulke_school
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