Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Attitudes Towards A Jewish Woman Covering Her Hair

I'm saddened to be writing this blog post, but I feel that there are some points that are important to highlight.

Recently we put out a video to explain our work with orphan Chatanim and Kallot and our exciting addition to what we are doing. I understand we will receive comments to what we are doing, but some I do not appreciate or comprehend. I am receiving criticism (from several women) about the type of head covering I am wearing in the video. In the video I have a scarf on over a coloured sock (as it is called). Some say if I am to do a video, I have to wear a Sheital (wig). Actually, I did have a Sheital for a short time when I first got married. It was a synthetic one so did not last very long. Surprise, surprise, when I first got married, there were some who complained that I wore a Sheital and not a scarf or hat or Tichel.There are some women who have not spoken to me since seeing me in a Sheital and do not know that currently I do not have one as they are rather expensive and my budget does not allow for it.

I took this issue to a few groups to ask what other women wear and what they feel about what the head covering of another is. 

As far as what women wear, we had a range of responses:
Some wear a Sheital, some wear a head scarf, some a bandana, some a Tichel (sorry, I do not know an English word to explain that), some wear a hat. Some show some of their hair, some do not show any of their hair. Some do not cover their hair at all. 

How did they decide what to wear?

For many, it comes from family tradition. For some, it is due to the Hashkafa that they follow. For some it is what their husband likes or what his Hashkafa is. Most women did not mind what the other women wear. 

There are some who wear Sheitals, who are angry or against other women who do not wear Sheitals and vice versa. There are some who feel that how you cover your hair makes a statement as to your level of observance.

A few comments made, make a lot of sense to me:
A friend Nedivah commented that: "Very often or perhaps most often, to wear or not to wear a Sheitel has nothing to do with money. It's more a matter of family tradition, culture, self image, life style, religious background etc." She also states: "Each woman must decide for herself. It is between her, her husband and their rabbi mentor. Surely not my business."

A friend Wendy stated "I don't feel that it has anything to do with me how others choose to cover their hair."

Dana adds a valuable thought: "I personally don't have a problem with anyone covering or not covering their hair with anything they choose, and people telling off others for their choices is just another way of turning Mitzvot into a tool of Machloket, which is absolutely disgusting." 

Ilene adds: "I do not care how anyone covers their hair or if a woman does not cover her hair. Nor do I care about how anyone else dresses. I think the issue is a personal issue and each person should decide what is best for them."

Yael sums it up with: "I don't care how a woman covers her head because I have studied history and realize that our internecine fighting pretty much always leads to tragedy and I ain't got time for that"

There were other valuable points but at the end of the day, let us take a look at what Hallachah (Torah law) states. Rabbi Rapoport a Dayan in South Africa said on a radio show, that the important thing is for a married Jewish woman to cover her hair. If she wishes to, she can even use an upside down pot. Meaning that how she covers her hair does not matter, what matters is that her hair is covered.

In an age where gay marriage has been legalized in the U.S. as a statement of accepting the personal desires of others, surely a cause such as one helping orphan Kallot (Jewish brides) to have the enjoyment of wearing a beautiful bridal gown is more important than what type of head covering the woman in the video is wearing. 

If the head covering is really going to sway you as to whether to either contribute or to share the campaign, then that is proving how much work we have to do in order to attain unity in Am Yisrael. The only way I can think of to increase unity is through increasing in acts of loving kindness and what greater kindness is there than to help an orphan who is getting married to marry with dignity?

So at the end of the day, why don't we drop our prejudices and concentrate on the cause. The Mitzvah of helping an orphan bride is a very big one. What better way is there than helping her have a beautiful bridal gown to wear at cost of maximum the dry cleaning fee after enjoying her special day.

This post is prepared by Shoshanah Shear of Chessed Ve'Emet 

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