Was ist die Kippa?

What is the kippah?

The kippah (plural: kippot), also called yarmulke, is a small, round head covering worn by male Jews. It usually only covers the back of the head and has cultural, religious and social significance in Judaism.

Here are some important facts about them:

Symbolism of the Kippah

Wearing a kippah is a sign of reverence and respect for God. It reminds us of God's presence in heaven and shows the wearer's humility and submission to a higher power.

Religious custom

In traditional Jewish communities, men are required to cover their heads at all times as a sign of acknowledging God's presence. Some wear the head covering all the time, while others cover their heads specifically when praying, attending religious ceremonies, or studying religious texts. When visiting a synagogue, wearing a head covering is obligatory for all men.

Variety of styles

Kippot come in a variety of styles, materials and designs. They can be simple fabric circles, made of velvet or leather, knitted or crocheted hats, or elaborately embroidered pieces. The style often reflects cultural or religious affiliation within Judaism or personal preferences.

Cultural significance of the kippah

Aside from its religious significance, the kippah also serves as a symbol of Jewish identity. It is worn by Jews of various denominations and backgrounds, both inside and outside religious institutions, to express their attachment to their heritage and community.

Women and Kippah

While traditionally men wear kippot, in some modern and progressive Jewish communities women also wear kippot as a symbol of equality and religious expression. This practice varies greatly between different denominations and communities.

Secular and political contexts

In addition to its religious and cultural significance, the kippah has also been used in various secular and political contexts. It has been worn as a symbol of Jewish pride and identity, but also to make political statements or to draw attention to issues affecting the Jewish community.

Overall, the kippah is a multifaceted symbol with deep religious, cultural and social significance within Judaism, reflecting both individual and communal identity and values.

PS: how do you keep the kippah on your head?

The Jewish Museum Berlin has published a nice blog post on this frequently asked question: Michal Friedlander (2013), How do you keep the kippah on your head? Question of the month for the exhibition “The Whole Truth”.

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