It all started in the elevator at Time Warner in Los Angeles. I had recently wed. As a traditionally observant Jewish woman, to my own surprise, I began covering my hair every day.
As a baal teshuvah (one who returned to an observant Jewish life) who took on many mitzvahs, Jewish commandments, over a span of several years, the one remaining question around Pico/Robertson was: would I be covering my hair?
I did not know myself whether I would be ready to take on this challenging mitzvah, but I knew for sure that I would at least wear a hat to synagogue and to any Jewish events.
I took my private kallah (bridal) classes with the Rebbetzin before getting married and learned about all the origins of this mitzvah as well as all of the wonderful side effects this could have on my marriage and family.
Well, being someone who likes to do things right and do the right thing, I knew I'd be taking on this mitzvah, as much as I could. Besides, I've always loved wearing hats. My J-Date photo, before I was observant, was of me in a hat!
This felt different and ethnic, and committed So as it were, I began covering my hair with hats that would cover at least the crown of my head, and the rest of my hair would come waving down just past my shoulders. This felt different and ethnic, and committed. I liked it! So instead of donning the cap just when I figured other Jews would see me, I kept my head covered at all times I was out of our house. From the day after the wedding forward I simply could not turn back. I was forever changed. I was now Mrs. and that meant there was only one man who would see my full head of hair, and that was my husband.
A few months after the wedding, we traveled to Israel for our honeymoon and my first visit there ever! Worries about what I would do if I didn't feel anything there faded away the moment I stepped off of the plane onto Israeli soil, or, actually, tile floor in the airport. I felt like I was home. This was MY land.
So while I was "home", I felt comfortable to experiment with different Israeli fashions. One of them was the wonderful way of tying head scarves which a cool, hip, young Israeli sales girl helped me with in the Bat Ayin boutique in Jerusalem.
I wrapped all my hair into these beautiful colorful scarves and let the long corners of the scarf hang around my shoulders like strands of hair themselves. (My husband loves this look.)
I felt exotic and Jewish and committed.
That was it, my hair did not fall down onto my shoulders in public again. My hair remained and remains hidden under a hat or scarf.
I thought I was getting way too much attention Back in LA, people at work started to notice that I always wore a hat. The comments began to flow. "You must really love hats", "Do you have like 100 hats at home?" "Is this a new thing since you got married?", "Are you going to cover your hair every day, for the rest of your life!?"...
That question actually caught me by surprise. I never thought about it in terms of the rest of my life. I was just getting up every day and covering my hair. But the truth was, I was having that "committed" feeling along with it, and I knew I was going to be Jewish for the rest of my life, and I knew I planned to be married for the rest of my life, so all of a sudden I realized, "yes, I suppose I am going to cover my hair every day, for the rest of my life". The person who asked me seemed shocked that I would be able to or want to do this. But I thought of all the crazy choices that people make in their lives and all the alternative ways in which people live and the things that people do every day, and was this so crazy? No, it felt absolutely freeing and positively personal and real...and Jewish...and committed.
The hats and scarves have led to many great discussions with Jews and non-Jews alike and many admire me for the choice. But the all time greatest head covering moment, and the moment that KosherCool was born, took place in the elevator at Time Warner, where I worked in Los Angeles, California. The people in the building worked for the various Time, Inc magazines, such as People, Teen People, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and many other "fashionable" magazines. Although I worked in audiobooks, these are the people I shared office space with every day.
As the doors of the elevator slid open, I stepped onto the car with a couple of other women; we all smiled and said "good morning". I was wearing a brown feux suede cap that day with my hair tucked inside.
One stylish woman says to me, "What style are you wearing? Is that J-Lo style?"
"No," I said, "it's not J-Lo style, it's just my own style."
"It's great", she said
And what I was really thinking inside was "Uh, it's observant Jewish married woman style?"
Who'd have guessed? Was I going to be the next cover of In Style?
Well, no, I wasn't going to make the cover, but I suddenly realized that head coverings were "cool". In fact, they were KosherCool!
At first, I thought I was getting way too much attention for doing something that is supposed to be a gesture of modesty. But I soon realized that all the sincere conversation about Jewish life that emerged from simple questions about my "cool wrap" or "nice hat" provided the cross cultural forum for creating positive views of Jews, for clearing up myths about orthodoxy, for connecting with other Jews of all kinds, and for making deeper and more real connections with people in general, and most importantly for living a committed life.
I love this committed feeling. Even when there are days that I don't feel like covering my hair, that I think I might look "prettier" with my hair down, days that I can't find a hat or scarf to match my outfit, I do it. I cover my hair anyway, because that's who I am, because I'm Jewish, and because I'm committed, and because there is only one man who will see my full head of hair.
And now when anyone asks me what style I'm wearing, I tell them "It's KosherCool!"