Harmony & Synergy

From My Life to Yours ~ Let's Build Some Bridges!

3. Sheitel for a Day!

First of all… don’t worry or panic or give a double take (though it might be too late for that). I am not planning on making the switch!

But… I must share with you that… I spent one WHOLE day in a sheitel.  Over thirteen hours!

    Yep, that’s me in the picture!

If you’re wondering, “sheitel” is the Yiddish word for a wig that many religious women use to cover their hair after getting married.  These women feel comfortable, natural and beautiful in a sheitel.  They often connect to the sheitel because they feel like it allows them to best embrace the mitzvah of hair covering.  I personally don’t feel like the sheitel works well for me, and feel much more beautiful and “like my true self” when I cover my hair in tichels (scarves).  To each their own!  This personal preference is something I never would have predicted before I got married.  Obviously, “covering hair” is a huge topic of interest in Judaism because it is so public as well as personal.  Different streams of Judaism have different ideas on how one should embrace this mitzvah.

Often I’m asked for opinions and advice on the subject.  My philosophy is quite simple; Experiment and don’t be afraid to try new things.  Aim to love this mitzvah and use it to embrace your beauty, elegance, and femininity… wear your crown and become the queen that you truly are!  Whether one connects to wearing tichels, sheitels, hats, etc. is something that a woman has to find out for herself.  I must add, that for all of us ladies that have found what works for us, my advice is… don’t preach to others (please)!  It’s wonderful to love what you do and the way you cover your hair, but we have to understand that what works for us isn’t necessarily going to resonate with someone else.  Aim to inspire others, but only if they want to be inspired.  And don’t be afraid to try something new while always growing in your love for this mitzvah!

With the exclusion of yesterday, since getting married I have worn a sheitel for two (very short) times.  This is funny because before we moved to Chicago, I was told that I MUST buy a sheitel because this is what is worn in America.  I bought mine in Jerusalem because they are reasonably priced there, but I really couldn’t see myself wearing it regularly (even though I liked the way it looked).  The funny thing is, it turned out that I actually feel completely comfortable wearing my scarves in the United States.  I get so many compliments wherever I go (from Jews and non-Jews alike), and many of the kids I work with have mothers that cover their hair in various ways, so they don’t find it odd at all.  The first time I wore a sheitel was for a grand total of one hour, while getting my passport photo taken in Canada.  (In retrospect I regret this decision, because I don’t look like my regular scarf-wearing self in the photo!)  The second time was for Purim this year.  I wore a black wig that I got for ten dollars at a hair accessory shop.  I dressed up as a woman from China and my husband wore a shirt with a heksher (kosher certification) on it as well as take-out containers tied on.  Together, we were Kosher Chinese Food :P

   Andrea on Purim 5772

ANYWAY.

So yesterday…

My husband and I were looking for someone to sublet our apartment while we are back in Jerusalem this summer.  I was blown away by the amount of inquiry we got, and in order to give everyone a fair shot at the place, we scheduled viewings/interviews for one whole day in order to make our decision as quickly as possible.  I had appointments set up from early morning until late at night, every half an hour(ish).  When I woke up, my thoughts went to what I should wear on my head.  My philosophy is that I want to embrace my true beauty aka Jewish womanliness through my actions and what I wear, but always take into consideration the people I am going to encounter, and make an effort to be accessible to them.  I would never want someone to be uncomfortable because of what I am wearing, so I try to think about this while staying true my own beliefs and keeping halacha (Jewish law).  Sometimes this can be a lot to consider!  Since I was going to be meeting many people who didn’t know why I cover my hair, whom the majority would never be seeing again, I didn’t want to launch into my life story. I decided that wearing my sheitel would be a good decision for the day.

So, I dug around for the box at the bottom of my closet.  I slipped on my light brown/blonde fall and wore it from morning til late evening!  A “fall” is a kind of wig that doesn’t have a part at the front, or bangs.  It is worn with a headband or hat.  Many women feel like this kind of sheitel looks more natural because you don’t see where the wig meets the skin/hair.

Yeah I’m super happy in the above picture… I was talking to my husband on skype!

So how did it feel?

In a word, it felt “okay”.  I definitely felt like I was covering my hair fully, so my halachic obligation was fulfilled.  It looked good and felt natural.  However, I just didn’t feel beautiful in the way I do when I wrap my scarves.  I didn’t feel like I was embracing the mitzvah fully and making it mine.  All day I found myself itching to make a new scarf tying video, to take the sheitel off and do an elabourate tie.  And the funny thing was that I kept getting new ideas which I (thankfully) wrote down.  This is funny because usually it takes a while for me to get new tichel ideas/inspiration!  Regardless, it certainly was an interesting experience.  And I’m glad that I decided to try it out the sheitel for longer than an hour and not as a costume!  By the end of the day, I was able to feel quite comfortable in it, except when I walked past a mirror or my mind was drawn to it for some reason.

In conclusion, I realized that it’s important for a woman to have options.  We should embrace all the mitzvot and make them personal and relevant to ourselves, but we also need to consider the comfort of those around us.  I am grateful that I was told to buy a sheitel so I can have it handy for social situations such as the one that happened yesterday.

Ladies, my fellow Jews, and all human beings.  Don’t just do mitzvot… embrace them!

15 Comments

  1. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing this experience :)

  2. Ayelet

    Awesome post. And as pretty as you look in your fall, you look absolutely radiant and regal in your gorgeous scarves!

    I totally don’t feel like myself when I wear my wigs. When I was single, I hardly ever wore my hair down. I was a bun kinda’ girl, all the way. My wig feels so… formal. Of course, when I do wear it, I get lots of compliments. But I prefer the compliments that I get (mostly from non-Jews who don’t have hang-ups about tichels/snoods being for “in the house”) when I’m wearing a pretty scarf that’s tied up in a cool way. :)

    • Ayelet, I completely agree with everything that you say! I just feel so much more like “myself” in a beautiful scarf. I’m definitely glad that I have my wig (I was considering selling it, but it does come in handy in situations such as the one here), even though it spends most of its time on a styrofoam head in a box!

  3. realmatt

    I love the headband and just thought it was a style they chose. i also have found myself admiring the hair of the jewish women in my neighborhood and NOW I FIND IT’S A DAMN WIG???!

    END MYYY LIIIIIIIIFFFEEE!

    How am I supposed to reconcile my feelings now? I have secretly loved these wonderful looking women for so long. but it was all a lie…

  4. nini

    i covert my hair with scarf and I want to buy me some Sheitel keep the good job up andrea may Almighty G-d bless you !

  5. Dinah

    Hello Andrea, I just stumbled on your site as I was looking for different sites for new ways to tie my scarves. I am jewish in faith but not Orthodox. I do wear my head coverings on Sabbath and the weekend. I don’t wear them to work but have thought about it. Its hard when the people you work with haven’t seen you with them on and I am the only one at the communitee college at I work at is Jewish. I agree that you do have this special feeling when you wear the headcovering, and I do love to wear them and try out different styles. They are so beautiful! I love the ideas you have shared. I live in TX and it is very hot this summer and not sure I could do all the layers you do. I get so hot wearing my scarves. The pins on the side are a nice touch, I never thought of doing that but I will. I like your site and book marked it so I can keep up with your videos and your news. I hope we can keep in touch. Shalom

    • Thank you so much for everything that you said! For battling the heat, someone on this site suggested wetting and wringing out at least the bottom layer of your head wrap, and it’s like a portable air conditioner for at least a couple of hours! I also get hot so I’m careful to wear only cotton, and light materials for the heat in Israel. (the heavier materials that you see on this site are from the winters in Chicago.) I’m very glad to “meet” you as well, and I hope that we can keep in touch!

  6. Jennifer Lundgren

    Greetings from Sweden. I enjoy your blog. I stumbled onto it because though I am not Jewish, I am beginning to consider headcoverings due to hair loss. I do have one question though. Why do Jewish women cover their hair well………….with other hair? Scarves I understand. But if you are going to wear a wig, why bother?

    • That is a wonderful question, I always wondered myself!
      In a nutshell – the halacha (law) is that a married Jewish woman must cover her hair. Many sources are not specific about how exactly she should do this, and this is why some women feel more comfortable wearing wigs. The woman in a wig is still covering her hair, and believe me she can feel it, but she may prefer to blend into the society around her a bit more. Also, sometimes women that wear wigs also feel that the wig covers more of her hair (aka no wispy side hairs peaking out).
      I will be honest, I think that many of the wigs being worn today are too expensive, too glamorous and too sexy. Often these wigs are much prettier than the woman’s original hair. For these reasons, I don’t wear one because I don’t LOOK married, and I want to look married instead of just feeling it.
      I hope this makes sense! I am very biased towards scarves because I love them so much, but there are women out there that simply don’t want to stand out, and don’t want to lose the beauty of “having” hair. I can understand that, though for me, wearing scarves makes me feel incredibly beautiful yet modest at the same time. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  7. Danit

    Dear Andrea, reading your blog has been greatly inspiring!! I was hoping you could help me with this issue I have… I was brought up in London where almost everyone I know wears a wig! Well apart from my mum! Seriously she is the most beautiful person I know, in and out and if she were to wear a wig I think there wouldnt be a man in london who wouldnt stare at her in awe… basically it would defy the whole purpose of covering hair when its that attractive…
    I got married and as much as my father had hoped that I would follow my mother I was afraid of losing my beauty and more- what would all those classy fashionable wig wearers think of me in my plain granny-like tichel!! Laugh but this is how i trully felt! although I did always feel a little wrong for wearing my wig for I am yemenite and it was never really an accepted covering in our customs… thus m

    Two years after our marriage a tragedy struck our family and my husbands 15 year old brother was diagnosed with cancer. All it took was 3 months and our beloved brother passed on. But little before that I was searching my heart for one

  8. Ellen H. Center

    You are amazing!!!! I am glad that you do not try to push women to do what you do just because you do it!!!! I am glad that I met you when you came to do a head wrapping demonstration at our shul in Chicago. I decided to cover my hair this way after I joined this shul and I had to go to a very fancy wedding and I was kind of nervous. It helped to remember that one of the invited guests was a woman who covered her hair with a tichel after she got married all the time. After that, I calmed down and enjoyed myself. It is always difficult to try something new for the first time at a big fancy wedding!!!!! I now enjoy buying scarves on ebay and wrapping in them!!!! It takes some patience but what new thing doesn’t lol

  9. Julie

    As a ba’al teshuva and a recent bride I didn’t grow up dreaming of what kind of Sheitel I would like. I did buy a Sheitel as initially I learned that was what was expected. I’ve worn it a handful of times and I have to say I definitely feel more comfortable in tichels. I love coordinating my outfits, adding flair with multiple scarves or headbands. I too have received complements from Jews and non Jews alike. I feel it allows me to express my inner artist and express myself through color.

    Thank you for sharing your post! I admire your blog and appreciate all of the tutorials and advice!

  10. Ivelisse Jimenez

    You look beautiful either way. I’m still trying to find out about my parents family, that are from Spain. I believe they were Sephardic jews. That explain of how I love keeping the Shabbat and celebrate the Lord’s feast. I’m not married, I’m 48 years old, and I love to cover my hair. It represents my faith , it tells me that although I’m not married , I have everything I need in Him. He’s my covering , my husband my true love. He took me out if the darkness into His perfect light . Wherever I go, people look at me , and they smile at me. I want that light to shine through me , and because God loves me , I can love others.

  11. I completely agree with you about making covering our heads a passion! I am not married, but I feel that it is more modest for me to wear a tichel so that not just any man can see my hair. When I’m married it will make my head covering of even more value! Being Jewish myself, I take it very seriously. Thank you for sharing your heart about this!

    • Ivelisse Jimenez

      Thank you so much Rebecca. I feel now that I’m not alone in my decision. Blessings to you.

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