Contemporary Jewry

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 81–97 | Cite as

Jewish Women’s KIPPOT: Meanings and Motives

  • Helana Darwin


Considerable literature has examined the meanings associated with gender-normative religious head covering practices such as Muslim women’s hijabs, Jewish women’s sheitels and headscarves, and Jewish men’s kippot. However, very few studies have explored the meanings of Jewish women’s kippot. This article advances Amy Milligan’s ethnographic research on this matter through open-ended survey data from 576 Jewish women who wear kippot. Unlike Milligan’s lesbian sample, this largely heterosexual sample claims to wear the kippah for many of the same reasons that men do: to “do Jewish,” “feel Jewish,” “look Jewish,” and to display their status relative to other Jews. Respondents acknowledge that their kippah practice also signifies egalitarianism, but they emphasize that this is but one of the garment’s many meanings.


Feminism Women Gender Kippah Yarmulke 



I would like to thank Michael Kimmel, Jason Schwartz, and the anonymous reviewers of Contemporary Jewry for their valuable editing feedback. I am also grateful for the support of my research assistants Jessica Shvarts and Shivanshu Prasad. Finally, thank you to everyone who helped spread notification about this survey and to everyone who took the time to respond.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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