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​History of The Kippah

Posted by Jennifer on

The Kippa, kippah or Kippot (plural) is commonly identified worldwide as traditional Jewish headwear, although it is also worn by Muslims, Buddhists, other religious sects, as well as Roman Catholic clergy. In Judaism, kippot are almost always worn by Orthodox Jews, and customarily worn by Conservative & Reform Jews at weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, celebrations and festivals. Wearing a kippah is always required by Jews and non-Jews when entering a Synagogue, and highly recommended for Jews during prayer.

Jewish head coverings are known by many names around the world. Hebrew: kippah,  also kipah, kipa, kippa, plural kippot; Yiddish: yarmlke, yarmulke, yarmulka, yarmelke, and less commonly called kapel; English: a kippah is a thin, usually slightly-rounded cloth cap worn by observant Jews (usually men). Appropriately, the Yiddish word for head covering, "yarmulke," comes from the Aramaic, yira malka, which means "awe of the King." In Hebrew, the head covering is called "kippah" — literally "dome."

The wearing of a kippa head covering is described as “honoring GOD”, and is said to shield men from the holiness of GOD. It is believed the roots of this go back to Old Testament Exodus 34:32-35, where Moses came down from Mt. Sinai and his face shone with a radiance from being in the presence of God. So he veiled his face to speak with the Israelites. Other referenced passages of scripture include Exodus 28 (high priest vestments), I Kings 20:31 , II Samuel 15:30 (mourning) referring to head coverings.

Kippot are not specifically mentioned in the Torah (Old Testament Bible), but are a command of the Talmud (the rabbinic book of Jewish law) which states: "Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you." (Shabbat 156b). and in Berachot 60b, it is written, "When he spreads a cloth upon his head he should say: Blessed are you (God) . . . Who crowns Israel with splendor." This is the earliest references of what became known as the kippa.

Depending on culture, theology & even political views, Jews will wear kippot to identify themselves with their beliefs and particular sect, and to differentiate themselves from other groups, and non-Jews. Often kippot fabrics , style and/or color have become a sign of loyalty to a particular sect or movement.