The kippah

The kippah is a small ritual cap used to partially cover the head, traditionally used by male Jews, and lately also accepted by non-Orthodox streams for feminine use.

The kippah – or any other hat, or garment that covers all or part of the head – is compulsory to enter and remain in certain places of Jewish worship as synagogues, cemeteries and sacred places or at times of prayer, celebration and study of canon law. Observant Jewish men, however, wear a kippah all day and on every occasion.

The kippah is a tightly woven fabric or wool, and today manufactures use a wide variety of colors, sizes and designs to suit all tastes, situations and trends. Still, the style that is still used for celebrations is white kippah worn on the Shabbat, holidays and weddings, and a black kippah when mourning. It is possible to locate a practicing Jew within a certain branch or stream of Judaism, based on color, size or material of the kippah.

Its origins

The custom of wearing a kippah is not from a precept or commandment itself, unlike the ritual tallit shawl, or tefillin , or phylacteries, although it has been entrenched with the passing of centuries, about to become one of the most emblematic attributes of Judaism. Still, its origins are equally ancient, dating back to the Talmud, symbolizing the need to keep in mind at all times that God is above men and things; and that the head should not be discovered before God.

In the service of the Jerusalem Temple priests Cohanim were forbidden to work bare-headed, this is one of the origins of this custom.

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