I know it has been relatively forever since I have posted, and I am so sorry for that. However, I am wanting to start posting again! (YAY!)
Today I want to talk about covering – specifically, the covering of hair.
A year ago, I began my journey with covering my hair, since it was just after I had gotten married. However, I had to stop, because I made the ingenious decision to start covering at the same time I changed my shampoo routine. (Dandruff and head itching are TERRIBLE things when you cover your hair!)
A week ago, I started covering again. To give you some history, I’ve been playing around with covering my hair since high school, when I became close friends with my three Muslim sisters from Jordan. I had already been buying scarves (Remember that trend? Where they get tied around you for a fashion statement that looks horrible on busty women? Yea…), so I would cover if I went to their house, or sometimes just for fun, and when they left to go home to Jordan after Senior year, they donated a bunch of hijab stuff to me. Come college, I started covering periodically to practice for once I got married (in Jewish tradition, women are supposed to cover their hair once they are married. More on this later).
Anyway, a week ago I had the GRE, which, for those who don’t know, is basically the ACT for Graduate School. The night before, and the night before that, I had contemplated covering, and i prayed about it. The day of the test, i covered my hair for the first time in over a year. i was amazed at how calm it made me feel, and how focused, and how self-assured. i felt beautiful. i’ve been doing it every day since, with the exception of sometimes at work (i work in a restaurant and covering can be difficult).
There are times when I may not cover. I haven’t decided yet. Obviously, while performing military duties in uniform, I cannot cover – these next two weeks of AT (Annual Training) will be especially difficult for me, since I only recently started covering again and already it feels like a part of me.
It took me a while to come to grips with my Call to cover. i’ve felt since high school that i should cover my hair. It made me feel better and more connected with God. But it was so hard for me. I didn’t know at first about Jews covering with scarves, just wigs (yuck!), and my only other introduction was Islam (other than women in Churches covering with hats, which is no longer done). I struggled for a while, wondering if, by performing one aspect of hijab or tznius, i would have to perform all aspects of it. I struggled over what hijab and tznius meant to me. Recently, I have found my path.
Modesty, to me, has nothing to do with hem lines and inches and whether or not to wear pants and if you can mix fabrics. To me, it’s a state of being – hijab, in the Quran, is about how you portray yourself more than what you wear. That last bit is just the scarf on top of the head, if you will. 😉 So even though I am Jewish, and even though covering hair after marriage is considered an Orthodox thing, and even though doing this proclaims me as a religious, Orthodox Jew to much of the world… i have some caveats.
I don’t follow traditional, Orthodox Judaism. I’m drawn to the more spiritual side of the religion; i’m drawn to the more Sephardic or Mizradic customs; more-so, my behavior is tempered by my upbringing, which was Reform Jewish, Catholic, and Secular. Many rules that are there, while I understand the need for them at one point, I don’t consider them relevant now. Sure, I may try and stay away from pork or shrimp, but i’m not going to ignore a craving and i’m not going to give up my cheeseburgers. I consider myself Modern Orthodox – Ideologically, i’m aligned with the Orthodox sect of Judaism, but my upbringing, and my marriage, requires me to have leeway.
And that’s ok. I struggled with that for a while. I couldn’t comprehend how I could be a good Jew and still wear pants and short sleeve shirts and mini skirts if I wanted to! My Husband thinks this is part of why I stopped covering last time, and why it took me so long to start back up again – instead of attempting to follow a Calling from God, something Holy, which He wanted me to do, which is an extension and expression of the Divinity within myself, I was trying to change who I was to fit a mold that someone else created. Not God – a person. And that’s not what we are supposed to do.
So here’s what I say – If you are Jewish and you want to adhere to all of the clothing rules, and measure your skirts and sleeves and what have you… more power to you. But I just don’t think it’s necessary. You can be Holy and a Queen in jeans and a t-shirt, or at least you can to me.
To those of you who view covering as oppression… please, rethink this. The ONLY people I have heard say things like this have been people who are a) not Muslim or Orthodox Jewish and b) have never tried to understand it. Do not look at this from a Western point of view. Look at it from the view of Heaven. All Muslimahs I have heard speak about this or seen write about this, all Jewish women i’ve seen who cover their hair, even Christian women and women of other faiths who have felt the Call to cover, all of them have said it is a blessing, something they love, something they enjoy, not something they are forced to do by their parents or husbands.
Recently, Cait, the other girl who started this blog with me but has since ceased posting, told me that she had a discussion about this with her mom, that her mom felt covering was a sign of obedience to the husband, and that was wrong.
To people who feel this way… please know that I am not oppressed. My Husband did not choose this for me – He felt it was weird at first! Now He feels it’s beautiful and a part of me, because that is how I wear it. For me, this is a sign of obedience to GOD, not to my Husband. I show obedience to him in other ways, and it has nothing to do with my hair, and i’m much more lazy about fulfilling my wifely duties like doing the dishes or cleaning the house. 😉
Here is a picture of me in a partial “regal wrap” tichel, using a beautiful hijab scarf that my Muslim sisters gave me:
Have a good one! i’ll be posting more soon.