Dozens of knitted kippot (plural of kippah, Hebrew for the more familiar ‘skullcap’ or ‘yarmulke’) of all sizes and colors comprise a new exhibit attempting yet another way to define the religious-Zionist community.
“Walking Between the Kippot,” which in Hebrew rhymes with “walking between the raindrops,” was the brainchild of David (Dudu) Sa'ada, the Director-General of the religious-Zionist weekly B’Sheva newspaper. “I was sitting in a restaurant in Raanana,” he recounts, “where many of the diners were wearing knitted yarmulkes. Two secular friends of mine were sitting with me, and they looked around and asked me, ‘Dudu, how can it be that all of these people sitting here each have a different type of kippah?’ At that minute, I realized that as the newspaper of the knitted-kippah public, we have to put on an exhibit of kippot in order to show and explain this multi-facetedness of ours.”
The exhibit was first situated on the 49th floor of the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, and has now made its way to Lander College in Jerusalem. It includes some 60 kippot, together with a short explanation by each wearer as to what his kippah signifies.
Among those who (or whose family) donated a kippah to the exhibit are the late Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriah, considered the father of the knitted kippah generation, the late Brig.-Gen. Dror Weinberg, Jonathan Pollard, singer Dudu Fischer, father-and-son journalist team Haggai and Amit Segal, Effie Eitam, MK Zevulun Orlev, Moshe Feiglin, Tzfat’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, cartoonist Shai Cherke, and Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Yisrael Aumann.
The exhibit will be open to the public at Jerusalem's Lander Institute, 3 Am VeOlamo Street in Givat Shaul, this Thursday and next, August 6 and 13, between 4:00 and 9:00 PM.
Jonathan Pollard, imprisoned in the U.S. for nearly 24 years for having shared critical, classified information with Israel, wrote, “The kippah is a sign of accepting the yoke of Heaven; the Holy One, blessed be He, is our aide and protector forever.”
Effie Eitam, a former MK and Brig.-Gen. in the IDF, wrote, “I wasn’t born with a kippah; I chose it, and I continue to choose it every day.”
Haggai Segal wrote, “I am fairly certain that when the Messiah comes, he will be wearing a knitted kippah under his [hareidi-style] hat.”
Prof. Oz Almog of Haifa University explains that there are several parameters that define the various knitted kippot and, by extension, those who wear them: “Size, color, texture and design. The size often indicates the level of religiosity; the bigger, the more religious.” The “hilltop youth” and others often wear large kippot of thick wool, whereas the fine-thread kippot are much more common almost everywhere else.
Two people donated a black kippah, with different explanations. MK Uri Orbach originally wanted to wear it abroad in places where he felt it would be better not to “stick out” too much – but he then changed his mind and decided that he need not worry about his kippah attracting attention. Baruch Marzel of Hevron, on the other hand, wears it in order to come closer to the hareidi-religious public, which wears only black cloth yarmulkes: “A Jew’s purpose is to collect the truth from everyone.”
MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) donated a relatively large kippah, consistent with his yeshiva days in the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva. He wrote, “When I completed the officers’ course in the IDF 38 years ago, we were three kippah-wearers among 150 cadets. Now we are privileged to see about half of those who become IDF officers wearing knitted yarmulkes.”