Many observant Jews wear knitted and crocheted hats as part of their religious obligation to keep a covering on their head. Among Orthodox Jews and some Jews who affiliate with other Jewish denominations, men and women cover their heads as a sign of deference to God, religious obligation and tradition. Customs differ, including the decision of whether to wear a head-covering while in public, only during religious services or in all locations throughout the day.
Many men and boys who identify with the "Modern Orthodox" stream of Orthodox Judaism wear a "kippa sruga" (knitted kippa). Men buy a kippa sruga or obtain one from a friend or relative (generally female) who knits or crochets the kippa with fine knitting needles or a small crochet hook. A man can obtain a kippa sruga in a variety of colours with a border design or a design embedded into the kippa. Some kippas integrate the man's Hebrew name into the kippa design.
Some Breslav Hassidic men wear a knitted "Na Nach" kippa as a form of identification with the "Na Nach" branch of the Breslav Hassidic movement. Breslav Hassidim follow the teachings of Rabbi Nachman who died in 1810. The movement never chose a successor to Rabbi Nachman. In recent years, new adherents created their own stream of the movement. They repeat a Rabbi Nachman mantra, "Na Nach Nachman M'Uman," which, they believe, may hasten the arrival of the messiah. Many followers of this Breslav branch wear knitted caps with the words "Na Nach Nachman M'Uman" embedded along the kippa's border. Some of these hats have tassles on the top. The kippas come in all colours, but most are black or white.
Married Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair as part of a religious obligation. The commandment for a married woman to cover her hair includes women from all Jewish communities including the Sepharadi (Mediterranean and North African) and Ashkanai (Eastern European) communities. Some Orthodox women wear wigs but many women cover their hair with hats and scarfs. Knitted snoods or berets provide a comfortable strategy that allows women to cover their hair completely. Some women wear knitted or crocheted hats made with a thicker yarn in the winter and switch to hats made with a lighter yarn for the summer months.
Among Jewish men, the custom of wearing a hat or other head-covering gained acceptance in medieval times, though the tradition has, in the course of time, taken on the force of "Halacha" (Jewish law) through rulings of generations of rabbinical leaders. Insiders can identify various Jewish ethnic religious streams according to the hat, cap or kippa that a man wears. Observant Jewish women wear a head-covering as a matter of modesty. The laws regarding the obligation of a woman to cover her hair derive from the Torah, Numbers 5.11-31. Religious Jewish communities throughout the world place great emphasis on this obligation which Orthodox Jews believe offers great spiritual and kabbalistic benefits to women who follow the law. In different communities women cover their hair in various ways. Some women leave a little hair poking out along their hairline while others ensure that their "kissui rosh" (hair covering) covers their hair completely.
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