Tuesday, September 4, 2012

And What Will the Children Do?

We went to our nephew's chalake (like an upsherin, only Sephardi- a boy's first haircut at age 3, where he also gets his first kippah), last fall.  It was actually the first one of either sort that I'd been to- so I can't discuss how it was similar or different.  But it was a sweet event, and clearly a pretty potent ritual moment for our nephew- if a little overwhelming for him at times.

I wonder what we'll do for our children, when they (G-d willing) come along.  Clearly, it's impossible to decide so far in advance, but I like speculating.

Will we just cut all our children's hair whenever it seems logical, and put kippot on them (boys, maybe girls?)   gradually?  Will we wait, and then put a kippah on boys?  If so- then what for a daughter?  A kippah?  A headband?  Will it depend on where we are and our community?  Can I ask a daughter to deal with being accused of wearing "boys' clothing", when I know how difficult teasing is for a child- I went through plenty of it myself...?  (Especially given that my husband will be an Orthodox rabbi- it makes for a community that will Notice what we do, and have their own opinions, desired or not.)  Or are hair bows plenty of head covering for a little girl?  How do I account for my values?


  1. I'm pretty sure a kippah is beged ish, so if your daughters were told by folks that they're wearing men's clothing, it would be somewhat accurate... (not to mention a halachic issue from the orthodox perspective.)

    1. FrumGeek- thank you for reading. I think the aguments about kippot being beged ish are only somewhat convincing- especially having grown up in a social context in which women wore kippot at shul quite often. Also, before I was married, I was very careful to make my kippot myself, so that I knew that they had not been made with the intention/presumption that they would be worn by men.

      The real quiestion of this post, for me, was how much I ought to make my halakhic and hashkafic positions my children's default- versus how much I should start them out somewhere more Orthodox (instead of Egalitarian), given the comments that people might make to them. I have a feeling that we'll lean toward substantial headbands and the like for girls- but I wonder, sometimes, if that isn't giving in.

    2. It's giving them a chance to be themselves and decide what they want. You chose to cover your head; maybe they will also. If they don't, how will you handle this? Could you live with it?

    3. My daughter got her first haircut at 3 and we did a small celebration, without any ritual, since this is not a custom any of us were raised with. It was meaningful to her but we did not try to follow up with any headcovering because no one in our family wears a kippah full time. She does own a kippah but is not much interested in wearing it. I'm sure if she goes to a shul where girls wear kippot she will want to wear it and if not, then no. Social pressure goes a long way with kids.

      The funny thing is that while I currently wear a tichel on shabbat, when she said she wanted to wear one (as play) I wasn't comfortable with it. Obviously, I'm ambivalent about this new practice of mine.

      It's important to me that a little girl be free of concerns about sexuality -- I personally object to both overly modest and overly revealing clothing on little girls. She has a choice of outfits that range from practical to pretty. I want my daughter to eventually choose a level of modesty and a style of dress that makes her feel powerful. That differs from woman to woman.

  2. Here in Israel, unmarried Muslim and the Zionist, fundamental Christian girls cover their head/hair... not Orthodox Jewish girls.

    In a different post you write about the assumptions made as a woman who wears a kippah being or studying to be a Rabbi.

    While I certainly believe there are plenty of Mitzvot that as an FFB, it was heavily implied that are FORBIDDEN for women to do (Tzitzit, Tefilin and Mezuman being chief among them), I don't believe a man's obligation to wear a Kippah is incumbent upon a woman.

    I like the headband compromise for future daughters.

    As far as a Chalakeh/Upsherin goes, I like the symbolism attached to it. My boys officially got their first Kippah then... and we're waiting until they're fully toilet trained to give then their tzitzit... I admit, it's been frustrating...