Girl in a Watermelon Kippah
(if you can still call me a girl... do I even still count as a "young woman," here in my [early] mid-30s? I guess it's all relative: A. had just been calling herself "middle-aged," and then the Good Rabbi refers to us as "2 young Jewesses" ;) )
Standing in line for Oxford Literary Festival tickets at the marquee (that's Big Ol Tent for us Americans) yesterday, wondering how long it would take to get up to the front and get things done --
and suddenly a voice booms out from behind me:
Why are you wearing that on your head?
You're not Jewish!
And you're not male!
I turn to see a bushy-bearded (grey, and unkempt literati-beard rather than frummy-Ortho-beard) fellow, bald of pate and blue of eye, interrogating me.
I am Jewish,
and no, I'm not male,
but it's my custom to wear it.
I've never heard of such a thing!
I've never seen a woman wearing a skullcap!
(quite loud, a little pushy/aggressive, but more astonished than aggrieved)
Women do, in the progressive movements -- you'll certainly see it in Reform, Liberal, Conservative & Masorti, Reconstructionist. It's true that there aren't so many women who aren't clergy who wear one all the time -- but I'm not clergy, and it's my custom to wear one, and I do know a few other laypeople who are women who do the same. But if you go into a non-Orthodox shul in the States you'll be very likely to see women wearing kippot, and also tallitot -- which I also wear in synagogue. I actually started wearing a kippah on Shabbat & holidays here in Oxford, when I became more involved & observant, because that was the custom of my friend Lisa, now Rabbi Doctor Lisa Grushcow...
You don't look Jewish!
Well, I am Jewish. Jews look all kinds of ways...
I'm Jewish! And people tell me I don't look Jewish!
Then they have a rather narrow view of what "looks Jewish" -- good thing that there are people like me and you to show them otherwise!
So you're not "taking the piss," then?
[Brit-speak for mocking/making fun of something]
No, I'm wearing this kippah because it's my custom, my minhag, to do so. Just like it is for some men.
I've never seen such a thing. These people, who are mostly goyim--
you're Gentiles, right?
--have you ever seen a woman wearing a skullcap before?
[The 20+ folks in line, who probably are mostly Gentiles & mostly Brits, decline to participate in BeardMan's straw poll. In fact, they mostly do not look at him and try to disengage from the situation, other than occasionally giving me sympathetic and somewhat amused looks, since I seem not to be minding his attempt to make me a subject of public debate and/or spectacle.]
Well, now they--and you-- have!
My name's Rebecca--what's yours?
B----. It's from my father's -- non-Jewish -- side of the family.
Ah-ha! So you're not purely Jewish!
Not all of my family background is, no -- but I'm Jewish.
Your name is?
[takes my hand and kisses it]
A woman wearing a skullcap!
Yep. Nice to meet you!
[he kisses my hand again]