I Tried It: Wearing a Kippa

5 years ago Hank Loeb 0

Everyone has their own path in Judaism, and each person has their own way of discovering their path. Personally, my path is ever changing. My great grandparents were Orthodox, my grandparents were Conservative, my parents were raised Reform, and I have always been affiliated with Chabad. We go to Chabad services but our observance ebbs and flows.  This summer, I decided to try something new. It all started at the Leadership Retreat in June. I was sitting in a circle on Saturday with Leigh and Risa, along with a bunch of other teens, at a stump the CTeen staff session. Someone asked the staff what their road to Judaism was like. Their stories were extremely inspirational and it got me thinking…

When my parents picked me up in Crown Heights after the Leadership Retreat, I told them I intended to try wearing a kippa and I wanted to stop mixing dairy and meat. My parents were supportive, but my mom suggested I think about the message I would be sending to eat at a non-kosher restaurant with the kippa on my head. I thought about it and decided I wanted to try to work it out.

The places I was concerned about going with my kippa were: anywhere my grammy was, work, and school. I noticed that I was self-conscious when I saw people who hadn’t seen me with the kippa on, even if I had never met them before. I was really concerned about what my grandmother would say. When we got back from New York, we met for dinner. Boy oh boy, she doesn’t let anything get past her.  She looked at my mom, wondering if she noticed and couldn’t believe my mom wasn’t making a big deal about it. She asked me why, and how I was going to go to school with it on, and told me that she didn’t like calling attention to her religion because her father always told her, “not to wear her religion on her shoulders,” and how Chabad had brainwashed me. All in all, it wasn’t the best reaction, but I had expected it. My grammy has been lukewarm about Chabad and I acknowledge that she doesn’t understand it, but I know I’m not being brainwashed.

A lot of people had interesting reactions to my testing out a kippa, like at work; even my orthodontist noticed that something was different. Of all the reactions, the best reactions I received were at camp. This was a very diverse camp. There were people from all over the world: from China, to Lebanon and Dubai, to right here in America, but somehow I was the only Jew. No one had a problem with me and they didn’t mind the kippa. Some people asked what it was called, but funniest to me was how fascinated they were with how it stayed on my head. I just told them that it stayed because G-d wanted it there (with a little laugh).

As summer comes to an end, I am really happy that I decided to try wearing a kippa throughout all of my experiences. It made me more aware of some things, especially my own path as a Jew. With school around the corner, I hope to continue exploring different areas of Judaism and discovering my own path.