Why I Currently Don’t Wear a Kippah Outside of Prayer
(and why I would like to again someday)
So, here’s where I’d like to start. There’s currently a lot of discourse about antisemitism. Rightfully so. It’s going on in many forms across the globe, and it is, in fact, possible to talk about antisemitism (which means hatred of Jewish people specifically) and other things at the same time, so, I will not be stopping.
Now that many people have clicked away, I’d like to talk from a very personal place. I’m not magically no longer observant at all. Kippot (and tzitzit for that matter) are still part of my ritual practice, but I do not currently go out and about wearing them. I haven’t really had an opportunity to talk about that, but I would like to do so here.
Issues with antisemitism from non-Jewish people: The obvious problem with wearing a kippah in public is that it is a circle that essentially says “I’m Jewish.” and a lot of people do not like Jewish people. Granted, there are things I cannot take off and put on that signify to many people that I might be Jewish. Similar to me toning down queerness at a time when anti-queer violence is high. I am anti-assimilation, but I am also anti-being the target of a hate crime so I make choices carefully. I have that luxury that others do not. Others have that luxury far more than I do, to benefit from conditional blending/passing privileges.
Another aspect is when I wore a kippah out in public, there would be a lot of assumptions made about my politics. I was most amusingly tied to BEN SHAPIRO, a man who I think besides being Jewish, American, a man, and alive I have very little in common with — — I don’t want to have these things placed on me.
Issues within the Jewish community: Judaism is a community-based ethnoreligious group. I personally feel very without a community at the moment, not aligning with a movement/denomination. I continue to feel secure in my relationship with G-d, though not in my relationship with other Jewish people or institutions (even though I quite literally work for a Jewish organization, it is possible to feel on the outside even there). While I keep a number of mitzvot, I don’t currently keep Shabbat. I don’t want to have my observance levels up for scrutiny even more based on what I am wearing. (then again, by not wearing one I’m also judged but at least I’m less visible). Again, for me, this is about people, not G-d. Some Jewish people are atheists, but I’m just about the furthest thing from one. I just already get a lot of litmus tests about my Judaism by virtue of not being cis and straight.
Kippot are a sign of a relationship to G-d, but contextually they are a cultural and religious signifier. To many, they are a gendered signifier. I am a man. Some non-men wear kippot. However, many Jewish people believe that only men should wear them and most of them would not even classify me as a man. I don’t want their harassment either. It almost hurts more when people from your own community hate you.
and here is why I would like to again someday:
- I should be able to engage with my culture and my faith and not have people in or outside of it judge me or harm me for it.
- I would like to belong and stay engaged in Judaism.
- It’s something that ties into for me (again some non-men wear them and that’s cool too) but for me was something I was socialized to know as a traditionally male/masculine part of being Jewish and I want to accept all the things that come with being a Jewish man.
- Jews are diverse. We are not a monolith. and we should all honor that.
Still a work in progress. Still learning. As we all are. Just wanted to share this chapter.