The On-Off Kippah Issue

Every now and then a normal kippah wearing guy ends up in certain situations with which he feels very conscientious about his kippah. I won’t get into what situation is considered kosher or not. I’m specifically discussing going out with friends for a good clean time.

At some point a guy gets into the situation where he realizes that he’s the only kippah observant guy and everyone around him is not jewish/religious. Usually at that point he becomes very self-conscious whereby creating a kiddush hashem is instantly on his mind (or the very least, not being a chillul hashem).

So, when does a guy take off their kippah? When is it ok to do so? Is it ok to do so? What excuses does a guy have to take off their kippah when going out? (I’m going to stay away from discussing heterim for taking off the kippah since much is very debatable and discussion can become even more complicated.)

Recently I went to a concert with some friends. Since no one specified what Kippah code to adhere by, I assumed it would be Kippah on. It was a respectable concert that wasn’t anything crazy, so no reason to suspect otherwise. The night of the concert as I’m picking up an acquaintance, he asks me what I’m going to do. I shrugged and said that I generally don’t feel comfortable taking my Kippah off and left it at that. All the while contemplating what I would do if everyone else took theirs off.

Do I follow the crowd and wallow shameful internally, or suck it up – enjoy the night and shrug it off because it was just for the concert and not typical behavior. (I didn’t bring a hat for backup, not to mention I think I look like a dork in a hat, I just can’t wear hats/caps).

As a general rule of thumb, I don’t take my Kippah off unless I know I’m in a seriously compromising and undesirable situation, usually the concern is security but can extend to other things if dire.

Fortunately when we met with the other guys I reiterated the question posed to me (I wanted to be clear and make sure everyone is on the same page), and the friend who arranged the tickets put things a little more squarely. What he said next really reverberated strongly with my beliefs. He said, “I don’t go to any places where I shouldn’t be wearing my Kippah. If I can’t wear it, then I probably shouldn’t be there”.  It was good to finally hear someone verbalizing the way I felt about the situation.

O.K., so some of you may be asking what’s the big deal – this guy sticks strongly to his beliefs. That’s great, but not everyone is as observant. Well what you don’t know up until now is that my friend (like myself) is not the typical religious observant bachelor. He’s not yeshivish, he doesn’t wear a black hat, he doesn’t profess to do anything overly right-wing, or anything too zealously. He doesn’t have time to learn every day, or hang out excessively with the opposite gender.

We wear jeans, shorts or whatever feels comfortable on our own time. It is healthy and important to go to a gym. We socialize and sometimes it is with the opposite gender, but we’re both keenly aware to stay away from anything too excessive. He, like myself grew up observant, went to jewish schools, has a strong jewish background, went to Israel for a year, got a college education, a full time working job… both saving money and dating for marriage and looking to start a family. On top of all that, still respect and continue to find ways to learn Torah and grow, it may not be every day but we find time each week.

We’re maybe what some would consider EB’s or JEB’s (Jewish Eligible Bachelors).

What we’re NOT is guys who fit a specific easily identifiable mold. Sure we can identify with some types of jewish profiles/stereotypes but we’re much more than that. We’re not afraid to explore and try new things. We don’t pretend to be perfect or be ideal or even strive for that. We are guys who work on ourselves and try to be the best at what we can. We are strong in our beliefs, and while they sometimes can waiver we are always working on going higher.

The fact is that we are religious observant jews. We’re not perfect or may fit the image that most women and girls have of what a proper frum bachelor should look like. But we wear suites and ties to work, we work damn hard (and look damn good too).

What we know with 100% certainty is which side of the fence we sit on, and that’s with Hashem and our fellow jews. I think this is the point of the statement “I don’t go to any places where I shouldn’t be wearing my Kippah. If I can’t wear it, then I probably shouldn’t be there”. It’s saying we know who we are, what we are, and which side of the field we’re playing for.

We’ve chosen our paths and found a balance in life that works for us.


2 responses to “The On-Off Kippah Issue

    • Thanks.

      It was a topic that had been bugging me for some time. I probably should do a follow up at some point being that it’s been a year, perhaps the topic of keepahs in the work place.

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