Question of the Month:

“How does a kippah stay on?”

Our current special exhibition “The Whole Truth… everything you always wanted to know about Jews” is based on 30 questions posed to the Jewish Museum Berlin or its staff over the past few years. In the exhibition, visitors have their own opportunity to ask questions or to leave comments on post-it notes. Some of these questions will be answered here in our blog. This month’s question is: “How does a kippah stay on?”

Post-it note in pink: "Wie hält die Kippa auf dem Kopf? - mit einer Haarspange" (How does a kippah stay on? - with a hair clip))

“How does a kippah stay on?”
© photo: Anina Falasca, Jewish Museum Berlin

If a non-Jew tries on a kippah, it usually falls off. This isn’t fair, but let’s examine the circumstances more closely. When tourists visit the Jewish cemetery in Prague, all men are asked to wear a kippah. Those who travel kippah-free are requested to don a blue, sharply-creased, circular piece of paper. The precarious kippah is inevitably subjected to the winds off the Vltava and flutters away. Comparably, a non-Jewish man attending a synagogue ceremony such as a marriage or Bar Mitzvah, will usually be requested to wear a kippah. Here, a stiff yet slippery synthetic satin kippah is ubiquitous. No guest stands a chance.

What then is the secret to making a kippah stay on? It is disappointingly simple. Jews who frequently wear a kippah know where to put it on their head (the crown) and tend to own kippot which have been tried, tested and are a good fit. Should they opt for one of the smaller kippah sizes (as opposed to the head-encompassing “soup bowl” style) a hair clip may be used to fasten the fabric to any available hair. This solution is not universally accepted, however, and the hair clip is rejected by staunch traditionalists. If the wearer chooses a suede kippah, bald heads happily have the advantage of a high coefficient of friction.

Should all else fail, the ultimate kippah secret is double-sided fashion tape or a dot of one-sided velcro. Please note: stick the velcro to the kippah, not to your head.

Michal Friedlander, Curator for Judaica and Applied Arts

Comment by Richard Becker on 8. April 2013 at 10:18

All any Jew in the world need do is don a hat of any kind. Covering the head symbolizes respect for the universality of God.

You might consider not having too terribly flippant a list of ways to hold on to one’s hat.

Respect the larger meaning of a symbol. Human’s have little else for expressions of genuine humility in the face of our knowledge of death. Of life. Of slavery. Of freedom.

Comment by Josh on 24. June 2014 at 23:55

There is also an option called Kippah Klipz. They are little hidden clips that go under the kippah and secure it to a persons hair. I have some and they are great

Comment by Faylinn on 18. August 2016 at 15:00

My cousins are Jewish and I have always wondered about how they keep a kippah on. One of them uses the hair clip and the other two don’t. However, why exactly would a staunch traditionalist see it as a bad thing to wear it with a clip?

Comment by Michal Friedlander on 23. August 2016 at 14:53

There is no Jewish law that forbids the use of hair clips to secure a kippah. The word “tradition” implies doing things in a manner that has been customary in a particular community for generations. The use of these types of hair clips for kippot are a recent phenomenon – if grandpa and his grandpa wore head coverings out of religious conviction and apparently managed without clips, why start now?

Comment by Anonymous on 29. April 2018 at 18:16

Why do you people think it’s ok to call them Jews? They are Jewish..I’m not a cath..your not a Christ..never met a morm…cmon people

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