Israeli Barber Fights Anti-Semitism With Invisible, 'Magic' Yarmulkes

( [email protected] ) Jan 28, 2015 05:40 PM EST
A barber in Israel has created a "magic" yarmulke, which allows religious Jews to observe their faith without attracting unwanted attention.
Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a skullcap made of hair samples on a man's head in the city of Rehovot, central Israel. AP

In an attempt to counter rising anti-Semitism, an Israeli barber fashioned what he calls "magic" yarmulkes out of hair, designed to allow religious Jews to observe their faith without attracting negative attention.

Shalom Koresh, whose salon is based in central Israel, told the AP that he was inspired to make the skullcap, known as a yarmulke in Yiddish and a kippa in Hebrew, due to growing animosity towards Jewish people in Europe and the Middle East.

The yarmulkes, which range anywhere from $56-91, look just like human hair and come in a variety of colors. They are also washable, brushable, dye-able, and are fastened using invisible clips. Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish men wear the headpieces as a sign of respect and reverence for God.

"It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can't wear it, and feel secure," Koresh explained.

Jews living in France and Belgium have expressed particular interest in the headpieces, said Koresh, especially following the Islamist extremist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris, in which four Jews were left dead.

A 2013 European Union report found that one in five European Jews avoided wearing any kind of Jewish religious wear out of fear, the New York Post reported. Additionally, during a ceremony held Tuesday to remember the liberation of Auschwitz, a Nazi prison camp where over one million Jews were killed, Ronald S Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said, "Jews are targeted in Europe once again because they are Jews...Once again young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes [skullcaps] on the streets of Paris, Budapest, London and even Berlin."

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who teaches at a prominent Jerusalem yeshiva, told the AP that while Jewish skullcaps must be visible and not hidden according to Jewish law, under certain unforeseeable circumstances, such as a risk of attacks, the "invisible" headpieces are permissible.

"Our sages said that, for example, when we are in danger, then it's possible (to hide it)," he told the AP.

Many have lamented the fact that a "magic" yarmulke is necessary in large portions of the world, arguing that Jewish people should not have to hide their faith out of fear.

"This is very sad," read one comment under the original report from the AP. " So now people are going to change their religious head attire so they won't get killed. But that won't really help, will it? They're not being killed for what they wear on their heads".

"This hatred of Jews and the growing hostility toward Christians needs to be dealt with harshly," added another.