Why Do Hasidic Jewish Women Wear Wigs?

Written by stephany elsworth
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Why Do Hasidic Jewish Women Wear Wigs?
(Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

Hasidism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism. Although Hasidic Jews live in large cities, they are largely insulated within their culture. The men wear side curls and black hats, while the women dress modestly and cover their heads.

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Tzenuit

Hasidic Jewish women comply with the laws of tzenuit, or modest dress, combined with respectable behaviour. Married women keep their hair covered, since female hair is sensuous. Some Hasidic women cover their hair with a scarf or net, while others shave their heads and wear wigs.

Significance

Jennifer Heath, author of "The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore and Politics," explains that the dress code of the Hasidic tradition is necessary to protect young women against the indecencies within the larger American culture. Fashion is seen as a symbol of the secular world that is in direct opposition to Hasidic spirituality.

Considerations

Many married Hasidic women wear stylish, natural-looking wigs that match their real hair. The Orthodox rabbis protested when women first began wearing wigs rather than the traditional shawl or veil, but since the natural hair is covered according to tradition and there was no apparent lack in modesty, all but the most Orthodox authorities had to concede.

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