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I came into Judaism in college. I come from a Jewish family (my mother's side) but I was raised in a secular household after my mother married out of the religion. She was raised in a Jewish household and we are still connected to her whole side of the family. We just never were brought up within the religion nor did I receive a traditional Yeshiva education.

Please excuse me if anything I say or write sounds confusing or strange or even unintentionally disrespectful to tradition. I don't mean to be and I apologize in advance. I'm still finding my flow in things.


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My question is concerning Kippahs and the rules surrounding them:

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I'm a big-headed individual who happens to wear his hair short. Because of this I have been struggling to find a functional solution to my Kippah problem. If I don't move or bend or walk too quickly, I can easily place a Kippah on my head without a problem.

The issue I have arises from daily use. Wearing a Kippah in Shul isn't a problem. Wearing a Kippah in life has become a challenge I am actively seeking a solution for. The wind, running to quickly, bending down, etc. etc. etc.

I can't find a Kippah which I can keep to my head. The obvious solution to this problem would be "Just clip it" but the issue I have with that is my hair is too short. I buzz my head so I can't actually clip a Kippah to my head with a bobby pin.

I have a hat which I have been using as a Kippah while I attempt to find something that fits my head. It's a driver's cap which I wear everywhere. It obviously doesn't follow the "big black hat" style which many Jews are accustomed to but it works for me for now and it doesn't stand out as rude or overly immodest during certain events.

Cut to last week:

I have a Muslim friend who knows I've been having this issue. He suggested that I wear something called a Kufi which is a traditional Islamic cap but that covers the head and holds to you like a cotton winter cap. It looks like this.

Keep in mind this isn't a Muslim friend's attempt to try and lure me into the religion. Me and him have known each other for many years and he knows and respects my move into Judaism. I'm hyper-aware of people attempting to convert me after a previous issue with some former Christian friends. He's just trying to help me find a solution to my issue.

So my question basically comes down to this.

Could an Islamic Kufi hat function as a Kippah? Would I be being disrespectful if I decided to take this route? I want the feedback from people in the community and with experience with things like this.

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    I have seen yemenite or breslov kipot that fit bigger and hold the head. You might try that. The best would be to ask in a Judaica store so you can see if it would fit. – sabbahillel Jul 24 '16 at 21:16
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    Have you considered a Bukharian kippah? These are more like caps and seem to fit without needing to be clipped on. – Monica Cellio Jul 24 '16 at 21:49
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    A little heads up (sorry, couldn't resist) the modern kippa ( last 500 years) was popularized after Jewish laymen started wearing hats. The hard hats were cumbersome and uncomfortable so people (Rabbis of note like maharshal) started wearing thin little material ones in order to keep the spirit of the new custom. – user6591 Jul 24 '16 at 22:54
  • My extra large friend wears a huge kippa sruga (woven kippa) with good results. – user6591 Jul 24 '16 at 22:56
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    Breslover kippos are a good option; they're big and knit, and stay on one's head extremely well. Those wacky Breslovers who dance on a Na Nach van wear them because while dancing a normal kippah might fall off. :) – ezra Jul 25 '16 at 3:30
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The goal is to cover the head. While it might be considered improper to wear a baseball hat in synagogue (though I have seen it) the religious obligation to cover the head would be fulfilled. In terms of styles, kippah types vary and since there is no inherent rule about style, your only concern would be if the head covering was explicitly identifiable as something native to another religion (like "can I wear a mitre as a kippah"?) or culture ("can a kaffiyeh be worn as a kippah?"). Historically, a turban was one of the options.

But the picture you posted seems rather generic.

Compare it with the kippah in this question, or one of the ones in this search, or linked to in this question.

So while one might object to using a sacramental object from another religion, or intentionally trying to copy the practices of another religion, the specific example you showed seems to be a hat, one which would cover your head.

As an aside, here is a poster with some interesting options enter image description here

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    So in your opinion, would the generic nature of the Kufi had be favorable? It doesn't come off as blatantly different from a Kippah beyond the size and shape. – TheBigHeadedJew Jul 24 '16 at 20:57
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    In my opinion, a generic looking hat is a generic looking hat. But if you are concerned about the halachic implications, it is always best to consult your local Orthodox rabbi. – rosends Jul 24 '16 at 23:54
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    If a mitre would be objectionable, I would assume a colander is out of the question too? – Pharap Jul 25 '16 at 1:15
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    @Pharap I haven't yet seen the convergence of Judaism and Pastafarianism – rosends Jul 25 '16 at 1:25
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I don't see anything wrong with it, us Bukharian Jews always wore Islamic "kippahs" to cover our head, and we still do to this day. Bukharian kippahs are actually not Jewish at all, they were used by Muslims in the area, but we decided to use them.

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We should not follow the customs of the Gentiles, nor imitate them in dress or in their way of trimming the hair, as it is said, “And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I have cast out before you” (Lev. 20:23); “Neither shall you walk in their statutes” (ibid. 18:3); “Take heed to yourself that you be not ensnared to follow them” (Deut. 12:30). These texts all refer to one theme and warn against imitating them. The Israelite shall, on the contrary, be distinguished from them and be recognizable by the way he dresses and in his other activities, just as he is distinguished from them by his knowledge and his principles. And this it is said, “and I have set you apart from the peoples” (Lev. 20:26). He shall not put on a garment like that specially worn by them nor let the lock of his hair grow in the way they do. (Rambam, Avoda Zara 11:1).

There is a prohibition against wearing a garment that is considered specific religious dress of another religion. I don't know whether this would be considered in this category, but you should consult with a knowledgeable rabbi.

  • Yes, but is their style of cap specifically a religious item or simply the kind of hat that is commonly worn in the middle east? Sefardim commonly wear hat styles similar to those worn by Islam and Ashkenazim commonly wear fedora hats which are a Western style. – CashCow Jul 25 '16 at 13:29
  • @CashCow, even if it's similar to something else but a specific religious item, it would seem to be a problem. But I have no idea of the practical halacha or what is considered specifically belonging to a different religion which is why I suggest asking a rabbi. – Miriam Jul 25 '16 at 15:20
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    i'm downvoting your answer because i believe you are taking the Rambam out of context. According to the Rambam's son, you shall not emulate a gentile practice, but if the Jewish practice existed before the gentile practice, then that gentile practice has no bearing on a halakhic decision. Jews had been wearing Turbans and prostrating in prayer from the begining, which is why the Rambam and his son were adament about these practices, even though others considered these things to now be "gentile practices" – Aaron Jul 25 '16 at 23:49

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