You can’t escape the daily news surrounding anti-Semitic attacks in our very own backyards. Monsey, Boro Park, Crown Heights, and even midtown Manhattan have become hostile territories for Jews. The American Jewish Congress has approached this issue by declaring the day of January 6 as a Jewish Awareness Day. The link I received had instructions on how to participate:
- Wear your Judaism with pride! Whether a kippah, or anything else identifiably Jewish, we urge you to wear your Jewishness publicly. Post a photo of yourself wearing your Jewish pride on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #JewishandProud and add the #JewishandProud frame to your Facebook profile picture. If you like, include a sentence explaining why you are proud to be Jewish.
Print AJC’s #JewishandProud sign or make your own using #JewishandProud and posting a photo of yourself with the sign on social media.
- Not Jewish? Feel free to use the hashtag, add the #JewishandProud Ally frame to your Facebook profile picture, and share why you support the Jewish community.
The approach is very similar to other religious or social issues. For example, World Hijab Day is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013. The event takes place on February 1 each year in 140 countries worldwide. Its stated purpose is to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab.
Perhaps the new Jewish Awareness Day should be renamed World Kippah Day, in hopes that the most recognizable head covering of all the religions is worn for all to see. However, it might get a bit confusing if this day is celebrated in the Vatican!
Neal H. Brodsky wrote a beautiful and moving piece for “The Forward” about his personal journey with the kippah. “So, it is time to take off my ‘safe hat’ in more spaces. Time to more openly declare a connection to the glorious energy that crowns this universe, after many years of uneasy assimilation. I am proud of the long lineage of my people who at many times and places, perilous or not, displayed their faith on their heads. Even if a shock to my friends and family, clients, and colleagues, I need to shed the fear I have worn and take the risk to reveal that for which I stand and show before whom I stand humble - the Holy One, who animates my life. Even as the pain of Monsey, Jersey City, and Pittsburgh gives me pause, being ‘visibly Jewish’ shines growing light on a path well chosen.”
Jeffrey Salkin, a Reform Jew, wrote a rather humbling article for Religion News Service about his new kippah rituals: “Were I to start wearing a kippah in public, it would be for one reason, and for one reason only: to be defiant. That is not the reason for the kippah.
It is not to identify the haters.
It is to identify with G-d.
I do not wear a kippah because they hate me.
I wear a kippah because G-d loves me.”
Kippahs, kippot, yarmulkes, or whatever you want to call them come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and designs. Back in the days of Camp Hillel, Raleigh, and Masad, a girl crocheting a yarmulke for a boy was a sign of affection. Girls would sit in big circles passing spools of different colored cotton yarn to each other, trying to outdo each other’s designs for their gift of love. Funny how times have changed.
There is no halachic requirement for a man to cover his head. However, doing so is considered a sign of awe, respect, and fear of Hashem. Keeping the head covered at all times has mystical significance (Kabbalah), and for this reason, some people cover their heads twice with a hat over a kippah.
Kippot can be made out of many materials. In some Orthodox communities, men wear black velvet or silk kippot, often under black hats. In other Orthodox communities, it is common to see men wearing leather or crocheted kippot. There are even designer ones sporting logos of Louis Vuitton and Gucci or team logos such as the Yankees or Mets.
They can be perfectly embossed to fit with your bar mitzvah party theme. They can be stamped with the date of the wedding of your dreams. They are a loving memory from special occasions in one’s life.
After watching 100,000 Jews in a sea of black hats and kippot join together in the harmonious joy of completing the Shas, I saw the impact of a unified Jewry. If it takes a World Kippah Day, or any other social media PR attempts, we should all be more aware to be more Jewish. Take out your leather, velvet, cotton, embossed, designer, rainbow, logo, bar mitzvah, four weddings and a funeral chapel kippah, and boldly wear it with great pride. As for the ladies - you know what to do!
Tobi Rubinstein is a retired fashion and marketing executive of 35 years who currently produces runway and lifestyle events for NYFW, specializing in Israel’s leading artists and designers. She is the founder of The House of Faith N Fashion, fusing culture and Torah. Tobi was a fashion collaboration and guest expert for ABC, Geraldo Rivera, Huffington Post, Lifetime, NBC, Bravo, and Arise. She hosted her own radio and reality TV series. Tobi is a mother, wife, dog owner, and shoe lover.