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?”
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