Does he or doesn’t he?… Wear a kippa, that is. It’s almost impossible to tell if he happens to be wearing a Magic Kippa, a new kind of Jewish skullcap made from human hair.
Shalom Koresh, a hairdresser from Rehovot in Israel came up with the idea for a yarmulke that blends in seamlessly with a man’s own hair color and texture after watching news reports about anti-Semitism in Europe.
“I also heard from people who came in to my shop about how when they were traveling in Europe, their guides told them not to wear a kippa while walking around,” Koresh told The Times of Israel.
Koresh, who has been in the hairstyling business for 30 years, said he thought of the notion of a kippa made of hair about half a year ago. He had a prototype made and wore it himself in his salon as he worked. When none of his clients noticed he was wearing a kippa, he knew he was on to something.
The inventor of the Magic Kippa wouldn’t say how many of the hairy skullcaps he has sold, but he reported that orders have come in from several countries around the world, including France, Belgium and Canada. He’s sold a few to Israelis, too.
Koresh said he has some of the kippas manufactured in Israel and some abroad. He sells ones made from human hair for €79 ($92), and others made from synthetic hair for €49 ($57).
That’s quite a bit of cash considering that most men usually don’t drop more than about $5 on a kippa (not to mention the fact that many of us have a drawer full of kippas we’ve picked up for free at weddings and bar mitzvahs). And come to think of it, the Magic Kippa costs proportionately about as much as one of those high-end wigs that some Orthodox women wear.
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, executive director at Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona and a Modern Orthodox rabbi, thinks the Magic Kippa is a brilliant solution for Jewish men living in Paris right now, where fear levels are high following the recent Islamist terror attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and the HyperCacher kosher supermarket.
“It’s certainly better than wearing nothing,” he told The Times of Israel.
According to Yanklowitz, rabbis have sanctioned not wearing a kippa if wearing it means putting a man’s life or livelihood at risk. So, if a man can still wear a kippa (by virtue of it being undetectable) in a dangerous situation, then that can only be a good thing.
At the same time, Yanklowitz is less enthusiastic about the Magic Kippa becoming popular in places where Jews do not face imminent threat.
A man’s wearing a kippa is actually only a custom, but in Orthodox Judaism it is a practice which has taken on the weight of halacha, or Jewish law.
“An important aspect of the kippa is its external symbolism. When a man in the Orthodox community wears a kippa, he makes it clear that he is an observant Jew. The kippa announces that he operates by a certain code of law,” Yanklowitz said.
So, this is where things with the Magic Kippa get a little hairy: If someone wears a kippa that is basically invisible, then so is the message it is meant to convey.