In Australia, my wearing a kippah (Jewish head-covering) is either an indicator of my religion, or a conversation starter (“what’s with the tiny hat?”).

In Israel, it’s more complicated. And annoying; my hat is a sociopolitical proclamation.

Oversimplified, the material, size, and placement of my yarmulke declares my allegiance to a particular religious sect, with predetermined stances on the role of gender in society, the ideal role of technology, and the role of religion in general. The latter is also announced by not wearing one at all.

My issue is that I don’t agree with the set of social opinions carried by any one style of skullcap (including the absent one).

The reason I care about not being misrepresented is that social unity is important to a country’s progress and these social allegiances are super-divisive at the moment.

So what do you do when all your options carry unwanted connotations?

A mate of mine suggests I construct a pink rubber kippah and make that my thing. I don’t know if that will really help me avoid the misaligned snap-judgment I’m looking to escape.

I could ensure that the message accompanying my head-covering was counterbalanced by wearing something with the opposing message. I quite like the idea of wearing a black velvet yarmulke with a skirt but it’s not worth portraying myself as something I’m not, just to avoid being portrayed as something else that I’m not.

I’ve lived in Israel for 7 days and so far I’ve just been wearing a hat. I originally thought that this solution would merely sidestep the problem, but I have begun to change my mind.

By not announcing my social views millinerily, I have joined a different group. I am now a member of a sub-culture that is uncomfortable with the available socio-religious boxes. I don’t fall neatly into any camp, so neither does my headpiece.

Like all things, I plan to continue on this path until I find something that changes my mindset: namely, a community (and cap) that represents me.

In Israel, the life I lead is an indicator of my religion; for my social values and beliefs, you’ll have to follow the lead of the Australians and ask.

 

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