Wearing My Kippah Full Time

Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad

I’ve been slowly ramping up my level of observance for the past several years. Really, in the past year it has been almost an exponential growth. Each time I added something new (starting to use Tefillin, starting to wear Tzitzits, etc.) I kept wondering what would be the next thing I would do. None of these were preplanned. I would get an inspiration, start reading up on it to understand it better, then pick a day to bite the bullet and start.

Now I have to admit, I just said that none of these were preplanned, but in the back of my mind, I always started to wonder when, if, I would start wearing a kippah all day every day. I figured that would be the ultimate “outting” of myself. Everything else that I had been doing was pretty much internal, where nobody else would know that I was doing anything different. (except the few times someone walked into my office when I was davening Minchah)

Turns out the inspiration hit me after the Holiday season (Rosh Hashana through Simchat Torah). I think the reason it happened then was I finally went completely kosher outside the home as of Rosh Hashana. (I have been kosher in the home since getting married over 5 years ago) My conscience couldn’t justify me wearing a kippah when still eating non-kosher food. Still, this was the nerve-wracking change for me. This would be the one that shouts out to the world (or at least the people in my office) that hey, I’m Jewish, and I’m not quite as quiet about it as I used to be.

I calculated it carefully. I would begin to wear my kippah in the week between Christmas and New Years. Two reasons for this: 1) I would be in Brooklyn the week before this, and could find a kippah that doesn’t quite stand out, i.e. matches my hair color a little bit. 2) This is usually the time that the least amount of people would be around the office, most were on vacation. I could break this in slowly.

So after returning from Brooklyn, I started wearing my kippah 17/7. (I only get about 7 hrs of sleep a day, and roll around to much to keep one on while sleeping)

For the first two weeks, I was uncomfortable. (Understatement!!) It felt like I was wearing a 50 pound flashing neon arrow pointing directly at my head. I would wear a cap when I went to the cafe downstairs for my daily bottle of orange juice. When I took the cap off and moved around the office, it felt like everyone was staring at me behind my back, I could hear them commenting to each other on it. (For those who don’t know me well enough, I’m deaf/hard-of-hearing, and usually can’t hear people talking unless I’m right in front of them, looking at them; this shows how much my mind was playing with me) When I glanced back, everyone was doing their usual work, talking to each other about business, etc. No one was looking at me, or discussing the kippah at all, it was all in my head. I only received two questions about my kippah; my boss asked how I kept it from falling off (bobby pins or clips, plus now I’m letting my hair grow a little bit longer than I did before, no more buzz cuts), and someone I worked with in a previous project asked if it was called a yarmulke or something else, and was I becoming more religious. Errrr… yes, I guess I am!

I’ve noticed several immediate benefits. Now when I do Minchah in my office, I don’t forget to put a kippah on, nor do I feel guilty taking it off as soon as I’m done. It just stays on the whole time. Also, the other day I found my division head’s ID badge on the floor. That’s a “donut offense” meaning he has to bring in donuts for everyone. So he brought in a box of donuts from Dunkin Donuts. After he showed me the box, he took a closer look at me, and I could see the light bulb come on… He confirmed it when he said “Oh wait, you can’t have these, can you?” Next time I’ll print out a list of where to find kosher donuts in the area!

Really, the only problem I’ve run into with wearing my kippah full time occurred at home. Twice now I reached up when in the shower and realized I still had the kippah on. As Homer Simpson would put it… D’OH!!

Originally posted April 17, 2007

39 comments on “Wearing My Kippah Full Time

  1. Be careful with the Velcro, on my friend’s 4 yr old son it worked too well in his curly hair, it pulled the hair as she took it off, the poor kid was almost in tears!

    It is sometimes amazing to me, to see a boy on the playground, playing, (looks like fighting to me) but only with one hand, the other is holding his kipah on his head! I had to tell his mother about her son taking punches, and defending himself with only one hand!

    When friend husband started all waking hours wearing we were still students, at informal U. He wore a hat/cap at first,(to avoid run ins with Arabs et. al.) and got a lot of comments about being rude, for not taking off the hat indoors. When he (finally) changed to a kipah, those comments stopped, everyone knew this is not a hat, and he was not being disrespectful, even if they didn’t know what he was wearing, or why. (Most Asians didn’t have a clue.)

  2. Larry: While shopping for kipas for my sons, I’ve discovered a few varieties. The plain black velvet (which my husband prefers) are larger and deeper than some others, such as suede or knit, but smaller than the Bucharian. Might be helpful to find a Judaica or Sefarim store that has a bigger selection.

  3. When we lived in Houston, the Kollel had a siyum. The Rabbis were each given a hat as a gift-a black Stetson. The Rosh HaKollel’s hat had a band that was pretty elaborate. Kind of like a band that Richard Petty used to wear and probably still does. FYI, Richard Petty was a NASCAR driver and one of the best.

  4. Dear JDMDad,

    So, what do you think they were in Texas? Black Stetsons! Well, I know at least one black hatter BT who does anyway. :-)


  5. I just stumbled on this site at work. I was actually looking for halachic sources on wearing tzitzits tucked in or out. As a BT I find I need to wear them out (I digress). Anyway, I was fascinated by your discussion on wearing kipot for the follically challanged. I started wearing kipot and tsitzit full time right after attending a Gateways weekend this past Labor Day. I am completly bald as a result of hair allergies. Tape does not work since sweat wears away the adhesive (and I dont think you can wear tape on Shabbos anyway). And the big Bucharian type of kipot are a bit obtrusive. Any suggestions?

  6. When I started getting more religious, my brother-in-law asked me if I was going to start wearing a black hat. So I got a Harley Bad Lands hat (no, I don’t ride a Harley). http://www.milehighenterprises.com/Crushable_Hats/crushable_hats.html I wear it once in a while, but it looks more of a cowboy style rather than a Borsalino or similar type hat. Maybe someday I’ll get a “real” black hat.

    Since my wife comes from Boro Park, I’ve passed by Kova several times.

  7. The Jewish hat shops (such as Kova Hats in Boro Park) know what the “regulation” headware at yeshivas is.

  8. I was @ the Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva on Shabbos for Mincha, and I (and 2 or 3 others) were the only ones w/o a hat. I have yet to buy one (I do have a regular hat with a brim, but it’s not “Yeshiva-type”.


  9. Regarding keeping Kippah’s on: Most of the time I find that bobby pins (2 of them) usually work best. Those other clips don’t work for me, and velcro, while useful sometimes, does not always stay on the yarmulke, especially if it’s humid or hot. After a while, you have to replace them.


  10. When I made the decision to “become BT,” I came back from a three-week vacation and launched the “Shomer-Shabbos/Shomer-Yomim Tovim — I need about a month’s worth of days off to observe” bomb on my employers.

    They were suprisingly fine with it and have been amazingly accommodating. More so, I’ve heard than non-observant Jewish employers can be.

    So by the time I was married a few years later, I had them trained to look for hechsures on food products for me, and they were quite used to seeing me leave early on erev Shabbos. So it wasn’t hard to break them into the “head covering” full time.

    I haven’t graduated to wearing sheitels yet, and I’ve minimized the discomfort by wearing non-descript hats. I do have a fear of traveling on public transportation where I only see a frum Jew once every few months, so I like to be as non-descript as possible. Hence I am “in disguise” with denim long skirts and a NIKE baseball cap.

    I would feel differently if there were more frum people around but there aren’t. It’s my challenge to get over — this shyness of being in the public eye as an overtly religious Jew.

  11. Kipp-on = velcro. I don’t think it works THAT well. One good strong gust of wind and my hubby’s kippah is making like a para-sail. I advocate metal clips but he doesn’t like them.

    The good news is you can always replace them if they fall off. :-P


  12. Re:kippahs staying on-

    I know in Israel there’s this thing you can buy called “keep-on” that you attach to the inside of the kippah and it sticks to your head…I hear it’s pretty effective.

    I actually know someone with really short hair who just uses masking tape.

    And JDMDad- I don’t think a kippah to match your motorcycle would be “going too far.” Green/gold sounds really interesting. I’m not sure how many kippot are actually colored like that (if any) but I bet it could look really good.

  13. Albany Jew:
    Yes, the other side sticks to the hair. I have found them in Judaica/Sefarim stores

  14. >“and what about us members of the follicly challenged hair club for men? velcro? staple gun, surgically embedded hook?”

    Big kippah. Hides the baldness, too. Ever see “Bad Hair Day?”

  15. Shower with my helmet on: Accidently, no. On purpose, yes. :-) It’s called “Riding in the rain.” Something that not all motorcyclists do. At least not willingly. It’s not fun, but I’ve done it. And actually, to be totally honest, one time I read that an easy way to clean the inside of a helmet is to bring it in the shower, shampoo up, then put the helmet on, move it around, then rinse it off. I tried it once. Never did that again.

    I tried the velcro, but I guess my hair is too fine, it never stuck.

    Explaining holidays to bosses: I’ve been very lucky in that regard. My boss has been nothing but accomodating to my needs, letting me earn comp time to use for holidays so I still have vacation time as well.

  16. David: You are correct sir, but please don’t dissuade anyone from moving up here, we welcome all!

    David Linn: Good idea! The helmet would protect the Kippah!

    Chana: where does the other side of the velcro stick to, the hair? I could use the help with my 3 1/2 year old.

  17. Ruby
    April 17th, 2007 17:39 7You can get matzah for $15 a box in Albany?? Maybe I should move from NYC…

    I’m assuming it’s a one pound box he’s referring to, not the standard 2 pound box.

  18. Steve Brizel: I’m glad you brought out the point of up-front honesty to potential employers. May I add that a forewarning about holiday scheduling is also fair if the employer is not a frum Jew. Even a non-religious Jew may be surprised when you take off for Shavuous, or 4 days for the other regalim. And Purim will surely come as a surprise.

  19. Thanks for sharing JDMDad:

    When my husband & sons started wearing kippas but didn’t like the clips/pins, they found the velcro useful. It adheres to the inside of the kippa and is invisible.

    Head/hair covering is always a hot topic in the frum community (and for women an expensive one). I currently live in a mainly Sheitel-wearing community, but cover my own head with snoods, etc. which I feel are obvious head coverings to all who see me (Jew & non-Jew alike).

    There are certain public gatherings where I am among a small minority wearing a covering other than a sheitel. Others wearing snoods, etc. may hail from a community where women are instructed not to wear sheitels by their rabbeim (not sure which communities these are). I have no such validation, it is only my BT sensibilities to blame. I understand that the type of hair covering for women often comes out of the group they were born into, but BT’s are free to choose, more or less.
    Anyway, I often feel unusual, but it is what seems right to me.

    Lastly: my son (about 13 at the time) once leaned over to sniff a kugel batter and his kippa fell in. The kugel tasted fine.

  20. “and what about us members of the follicly challenged hair club for men? velcro? staple gun, surgically embedded hook?”

    Silly Putty?

  21. Working on the farm, I have different kippot for different types of jobs – although I usually wear a little number in basic black (OK a big number) those egyptian moslem looking kippot keep your head real warm in the winter. My son sleeps in a Na Nach kippa – they stay on on windy days..

    and what about us members of the follicly challenged hair club for men? velcro? staple gun, surgically embedded hook? but I digress.

    And remember, when you use a chain saw, tuck in your tzitzis (trust me on this one!)

  22. RMF wrote a teshuvah in IM a number of years ago re the entire issue of wearing a kipah on the job. Whether or not one wears a kipah on the job is obviously a personal choice, but WADR, this choice should be grounded in reality as opposed to emotions.

    IMO, one can still find some sectors of employment where one’s religious affiliation and demonstration of the same can be used negatively such as in interviews, etc. IMO, and without even pretending to suggest psak, but rather some practical guidance, one can distinguish between one’s home,street , lunch ,tefilah and the office. Job interviews are another source of tension over one’s religious practices. IMO, the best time to mention that one is a Shomer Torah UmItzvos is when the interviewer asks you-“Is there anything else that you would like to tell me?”. In that manner, you are showing integrity and concern and dictating the terms of the response, as opposed to surprising the employer with Shabbos, YT and Kashrus, for a short list, after you have gained the job.

  23. Martin F. I drive to work (I’m nowhere near NYC with it’s good transportation system), I’m not sure how I’d do starting out on public transportation with a kippah. Yasher Koach to you as well!

    Gershon Seif: When I reach for something over the toilet, I sometimes think “oh boy, hope the clip is on tight!” I think maybe I’ll get a few spares to keep on hand! Thanks.

    Albany Jew: There aren’t very many Jews around here either. I admit, when I venture out to most places (stores, malls, etc.), I wear a cap. But I am starting to keep the cap off at some of the more familiar places. Baby steps… :-)

    Chaya H. Thanks, nice to know that we men aren’t the only one’s who forget to check the top of our heads.

    Rachel, I’ve thought of getting a few colors, i.e. I have a charcoal colored suit, which the black kippah matches well. But I also have a sort of gold/green color suit I wear every now and then that I thought of trying to match. And I actually thought of looking for a forest green one to match my motorcycle. Maybe that’s going too far…

  24. I crochet kippot (it used to be for my friends, now I only make them on commission) and I’ve been envious of males (or even kippah-wearing women, for that matter) who get to wear the kippot that I make. Especially since they usually turn out really nicely.

    If I were a guy, I’d probably have a whole collection of kippot in all different colors, to match whatever outfit I was wearing. I suppose I can do something similar with hats when I get married, but that won’t be for a while…

  25. Congratulations on taking the plunge. As a woman, I have a lot of admiration for male BTs taking such a high-profile step in their observance. As a married woman, I have accidentally jumped into the the shower with my hair covered more than once.

  26. An interesting thing about wearing the kippah in Albany as opposed to a place like NYC is that it is so rare around here, that some people automatically assume you are a Rabbi (or something close to one) and sometimes ask you questions (e.g., what’s with the $15 box of matzah?) Almost everyone is respectful though (this is an amazing country, isn’t it?)and I don’t mind it :)

  27. Sometimes when reaching for something on the shelf above the toilet, worse can happen…. Definitely good to have a spare around for those goofy moments. :-)

    In a realted matter, our 10 year old son is on a little league team. He never thought twice about keeping his tzitzis out. It’s kind of funny looking at him on the field in his uniform with the tzitzis out. There are a few other frum kids on the team but there’s some that aren’t and non-Jews as well. He never thought twice about it. I was actually thinking of telling him to keep them tucked in because they can get dirty when he slides into second. But I can’t bring myself to discourage his Jewish pride. We’ll just buy a few extra pair I suppose. Nachas…

  28. Like you, I have increased Mitzvah performance over the years. With the yarmulke full-time, I started that 8 years ago, when I first started working for CUNY (at that time I was working in Manhattan, which meant a subway ride). I just decided that, this it, I am going to start wearing the kippah all the time from now on. Up until that point, I only wore it to & from shul for the most part, and when I ate @ home.

    As for Tzitzis, I started that last summer…I just felt it was the right time. When I found out how inexpensive a pair of Tzitzis was, I felt ashamed that I had not started earlier.

    Yasher Koach to you for your strides, from one “Dad” to another!


  29. Albany Jew, thank you. It’s interesting that you and Bob Miller talk about starting to wear the kippah when you moved. I considered that as well. My job will be moving in 3-4 years (and I’m happily going with it as it’ll be near Baltimore), and originally I thought that’s when I’d start with the kippah. However, I started realizing more and more that I didn’t want to wait that long.

    Also, after the shower incident, I just let the kippah dry out, and it was fine. About two weeks ago, the stitching started to get undone, so I finally bought a new one. My brother-in-law (a regular kippah wearer) said they had a lifetime of about 3-4 months when used all the time, so that worked out about right.

  30. I started wearing a kippah “full time” when we moved to Allentown, PA in 1983 because of my new job. Since I was doing major transitions anyway, this seemed like a good point to step up and do it. Nobody there was used to my “unkippah-ed” former self, so there was no need to explain myself a lot.

    Since it’s leather, the occasional lapse of wearing it into the shower has not caused problems.

  31. Yasher koach! I used my move here 5 years ago as an opportunity to wear the kippah full time and yes I have also experienced “wet kippah syndrome”, still do sometimes, actually. Keep a supply on hand!

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