One of the commandments in religions like Islam and Judaism is covering the head. In Islam, it is a compulsion but in Judaism the concept of covering the head is not exactly a religious compulsion. It is considered a positive and holy act. Jews cover their head while praying or visiting any holy place of worship. The skullcap worn by Jews is called Yamaka. It is a symbol of Jewish identity and faith. It has been worn by Jewish men and young boys since long but later Jewish women also started wearing it. Jews wear it as a sign of their faith. A Yamaka is also called a Kippah, which is the Hebrew name of it.
RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE OF YAMAKA
Yamaka is considered as a symbol of reaffirmation and respect of Jewish faith. When Jews wear it, they actually acknowledge a higher authority. It reminds them of a supreme and sovereign authority that watches every move from above they make. The tradition of wearing the Jewish head coverings signifies that the person is a servant of God and is obliged to follow all his commandments.
The religious teachings of Jews instruct them to cover their heads as mentioned in Talmud (Shabbat 156b). There are other references in the Jewish religious commentary too about covering their heads.
WHEN JEWS WEAR THE YAMAKA?
Jews also wear this skullcap when they read their holy book The Torah to show reverence to God. Some devout Jews wear this religious head covering all the time, as a symbol of devotion and love for God. They do not take it off throughout the day unlike others, who only wear it when they are praying or studying the Torah. Those Jews, who are not active followers of their faith, only put on the Yamaka during weddings, funerals, or other religious events. They wear it only to make themselves identified as a part of the religious sect.
YAMAKA WORN BY JEWISH WOMEN
Yamakas for women come in lace adornments, beadings, crystals, and with other delicate and beautiful decorations. They come in brighter colors to give a feminine touch.
YAMAKA WORN BY JEWISH CHILDREN
Jewish children often begin wearing this religious head covering at the age of three when they get their first haircut. They also start wearing another religious symbol called a “Tzitzit”. A proper ceremony will be held for it, which is called Upsherin. It also marks the start of Torah education for the children.
In Judaism, covering the head is not an obligation as mentioned before. Therefore, they can take off their Yamaka if their surroundings demand so. For instance, Jews can take off their skullcaps when at work.
COLORS OF YAMAKA
Earlier they came only in black color and were made from a velvet material. Nowadays, these religious head coverings come in all sorts of designs, colors, and material.
DESIGNS OF THE JEWISH YAMAKA
The Jewish cap is a small hemispherical one that measures approximately a diameter of 5 inches. It is worn at the apex of the skull with the help of hair clips. Some come with combs to help fit the cap properly on the head.
For children the designs of these skullcaps can be fitted with ribbon like ties under their chin to place and secure the cap in the right place.