IT PAINS ME ON SEVERAL levels to do this, but I am currently wearing a fisherman’s hat over my kippah.
The reason is simple — a dear friend sincerely and greatly fears for my safety in an era where Jews are being harassed, attacked, and beaten on the world’s streets. I respect her opinions and feelings. So I am honoring them.
In truth, I am of (at least) two minds about this issue. I first donned a full-time yarmulke in March of 2000 for a variety of reasons, one being my belief that, following a local antisemitic incident, we needed to become more visible, not less. I still feel that way. Covering my headgear feels a little like “letting the terrorists win.”
On the other hand, one of Judaism’s highest ideals is “pikuach nefesh,” or the preservation of life. While that usually means to save someone else from a life-threatening situation, one can’t very well do that if one’s own life is being threatened.
But on a third hand, a good case could be made against wearing religious symbols of any kind: Jewish, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Taoist, Pagan. Faith ought to be a private affair, goes that argument, and if one feels the need to parade it around in public, one’s faith must be weak.
I have no ultimate answer to any of these points; they go ’round and ’round my mind on a daily, even hourly basis, with (as yet) no clear resolution.
Meanwhile, I will go undercover.
And “the terrorists?”
They can go to hell.