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What do you think about wearing an “Obamica”? How about covering your head with a “McCippah”? Well, now you can. A recent post at Seattlepi.com describes Shmuel Tennenhaus’ new business, VanityKippah.com and it newest products. Take your pick, but you can now wear a kippah (yarmulke in Yiddish), the traditional Jewish head covering, and support your favorite candidate at the same time.
Things to hate about this idea? Well, hate is too strong a word, but in a world filled with religious violence, do we need any more intensification of the bond between partisan politics and religion? On the other hand, if religious ideas genuinely animate one’s life, how can they not inform one’s politics? I actually believe they should. Perhaps not this way, but….
The real story here is that Tennenhaus wants these to be fashionable enough so that “even non-Jewish people would wear one”. That, I love. This guy imagines that one of the most common ways of identifying a Jew in public, could become so normal that it would cease to function in that way.
In other words, the idea of wearing a kippah, for whatever reason, would make so much sense that not even those who “are supposed to wear one”, would choose to put them on. It’s not the worst test for any practice in any community, i.e. the wisdom of doing the practice, would actually motivate people to perform it.
Ironically, that seems to be how the custom of covering one’s head originated in Jewish circles. At least the oldest text describing it has it that way. The Talmud tells of a woman distraught with her misbehaving son, who she brought to a rabbi. The sage instructs her to wrap her son’s head in some kind of cloth or turban (sudar, lit.) and apparently the act of dressing that way would raise his consciousness and subsequent behavior. Did it work? Don’t know, but the idea of dressing the part has been with us for a long time, and it seems that Obamicas and McCippahs are just the next phase.

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