To Cover or Not to Cover?

15 Jun

I’m having an identity crisis.  After sweet husband and I got married, I started covering my hair in some way on a daily basis.  Whether it was a head band or a hat, my head had something on it and I really liked what it brought to myself, my growing spiritual-self and my relationship with said sweet husband.

Wait, let me back up a bit so we’re all on the same page.

Jewish law (halacha) stipulates that when a woman becomes married, she must cover her hair (the amount of hair that should be covered is under some debate).  In my research on why and how a woman should cover her hair I stumbled across a variety of both Rabbinic and Torah-based sources.  One such source from the Torah states that the Sotah (woman suspected of committing adultery) is forced to uncover her hair (Bemidbar 5:18), from which we may deduce that married Jewish women kept their hair covered.  The act of covering one’s hair is also deeply rooted in the laws of tzniut (modesty).  One big misconception of hair covering and the laws of modesty in general is that we cover it up to keep those lusty man eyes from checking out our womanly form.  Now, to deny that that is a part of tzniut would be lying.  However, if you’re only paying attention to that reasoning then you’re missing the deeper meaning.  Tzniut is the de-emphasis of the outer self that enables the essential self to emerge.  Practically speaking, this means that our behavior in speech, dress, and in the way we carry ourselves should convey the message to ourselves first and foremost and to others secondarily that I need to look a certain way—an anomaly in South Florida. Additionally, so much of tzniut (and truly, all mitzvot like keeping kosher or observing shabbat) is based in making way for one to have a deeper awareness or intention in the every day while  also being an attempt to maintain the spiritual  in a world which is constantly doing it’s darndest to push the spiritual out (Jersey Shore anyone?).     When I put that headband on in the morning I am not accessorizing (though, come on, bonus) I’m remembering my place and role in the world as a Jewish woman with the most amazing partner I could ever have been blessed with.

So, why all this philosophizing on hair coverings?   Well, upon moving from Ann Arbor (where wearing a hat all day, every day during winter is just practical) and moving to Miami (where the type of hair covering, or any hair covering for that matter, so readily aligns you to a sect or specific Jewish community you may or may not actually identify directly with) has been challenging.  Up until this Friday, I have worked in a professional environment where I did not feel comfortable covering my head (though the occasional headband was worn.  However, upon wearing it I felt a little too much like Rachel Berry—her headband song did rock though).  However, beginning Monday, I will be starting a new job at an

been feeling Rachel Berry-tastic

Orthodox Jewish day school with a skirt requirement and the flexibility to cover or not to cover and I’m feeling like this change in career is giving way to an even bigger personal change.   I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit to the occasional worry of alienating my friends who have strictly known me as less observant but then I get pissed at myself for not giving them the benefit of the doubt for being quite amazing and accepting.   As I start this job that puts me at the forefront of mentoring Jewish youth, I want to set a good example but most importantly, I want to be true to myself and my relationship with Gd and my hubby (good LORD, how coincidental is it that while writing this last sentence, Sublime’s “Rivers of Babylon” just came on my Pandora station.  Dude, that’s just crazy).  So much of my growing and deepening spirituality/observance has been anonymous.  You can’t tell that I keep kosher or observe shabbat just by looking at me.  However, once that hat or head scarf goes on, my anonymity as an observant Jew is lost, at least in more heavily Jewish populated areas.   Otherwise, I’m just a tall girl in a skirt and a hat.  It’s a huge step and I’m just a little nervous.

So what the heck does this have to do with food and kashrut!?!?  Well, nothing except that I hosted a book club meeting on Monday night and made some killer artichoke dip and fried pickles (we read The Help, I wanted to put something on the menu that was classically Southern) and I want to post the recipe and also wanted to get the above conversation off my chest.  I appreciate you listening and if you made it to the end of this post let me be the first to wish you a mazal tov to hanging on this long!

(recipe courtesy of Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks)

Baked Artichoke Dip Recipe

Sometimes silken tofu can be hard to find. No worries, I’ve had success using medium firm regular tofu as well – just stay clear of the firm and extra-firm varieties. For some added nutritional punch and color quickly saute a couple handfuls of spinach in a bit of olive oil – toss it in the food processor with the artichokes, tofu, and garlic.

2 (14-ounce) cans water-packed artichokes, well drained
4 ounces organic silken tofu
3 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2/3 cup plain (or Greek) yogurt
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or more to taste
pinch of cayenne pepper

more Parmesan to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a blender or food processor puree the artichokes, tofu, and garlic. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the parmesan cheese, yogurt, salt, and cayenne. Stir in the artichoke puree and pour mixture into a medium-sized baking dish (or multiple smaller dishes). Sprinkle the top with more Parmesan. Bake uncovered until heated through and the cheese on the top starts to brown, about 45 minutes.

Makes 2-3 cups of artichoke dip.

2 Responses to “To Cover or Not to Cover?”

  1. CC June 16, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    So, I’m on my way to work which leaves me little, in fact almost no time to go into the complexities of to cover or not cover thou hair. Obviously it’s such a personal choice and whilst I had visions of me rocking a daily Erica Badu – I was surprised to find it just wasn’t that easy. That said… Living in Israel helps some what. If everyone else is doing it…. La ma lo me?! Let’s see what happens on my summer trip to england! In short though…. Cover my hair has helped me with two things….. Its bringing me closer to HaShem, because ultimately, I like doing what he wants me to. And secondly…. It’s saved me from brushing my hair. Ever. Seriously though….. This stuff ain’t meant to be easy. Nothing important is. But you gotta move at your pace lady, and do what feels right. HaShem loves you and knows you’re trying. Kol Ha’Kavod xxxx


  1. Soup in Summer « jewhungry - July 1, 2011

    […]  What the “H” is she doing making soup in June in Miami!?!?!?!  Has all that new hair-covering been constricting the common sense the good Lord gave her!?  Well no.  Here’s the thing. […]

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