Wednesday, February 08, 2006

wig, ya dig?

In an attempt to steer clear of the Hamas-wins-the-election post, I'm choosing instead to indulge in a rare Judaic post. I recently stumbled upon this, in which a young woman discusses her choices regarding the practice of covering the head once married (kisui rosh).

As a former practitioner of kisui rosh, I'm very sympathetic to her choices. I covered my hair for a year and a half before I finally stopped. I believe that I began covering my hair for an excellent reason: looking at the standards of my community, considering the kind of religious observance that I wished to maintain, it became clear that kisui rosh was an appropriate choice. Orthodox Judiasm supports a variety of kisui rosh behaviors, not to mention that the hats were kind of cute. However, when we left that community and I went to graduate school, I found myself in a secular environment to which I was the representative of all things Jewish (bagels and lox excluded). I began to revisit my choice. Was it a matter of community or philosophy? Now that the community was gone, what was left? And what did it say about me that my choices were peer-driven?

I decided that a religious choice is one worthy of revisiting, daily if need be. That religious motivation should be considered, reconsidered and constantly queried or else it risks growing reflexive. And that community is, in fact, a valid reason for making a religious choice - if it is one already intrinsically appropriate. Was this convenient philosophy on my part? Maybe. The damned hats did give me headaches...

Like the burka, kisui rosh is a very, very difficult choice for someone who is living and working outside of the protective arms of the religious community. It is a visual reminder of difference in a manner even more striking than the kipa (a better comparison would be to payot, or the curled earlocks that chasidim wear) - unless the woman wears an expensive and rather uncomfortable wig.

Kudos and best of luck to Shanna in her choice. It is one that I have made my peace with, and have much respect for.

1 comment:

Rapunzel said...

I just came across your blog and was curious to know what made you change your mind and was it awkward when you did. How did your family feel about your choice? Your community?