Shalom Koresh has just finished attaching his invention to the scalp of a young Israeli. With the hair kippa, which you can’t see, his customer can show his fear of God without worrying about anti-semitic attacks.
The idea came to this elegant hairdresser from Rehovot (center of Israel) 6 months ago. With scissors in hand, he gestures contently around his customer’s face. “Customers who have gone to Europe spoke to me about the growing anti-Semitism over there. So, I said to myself: why not a kippa that blends into your hair”?
In France, where they are the most numerous in Europe, or elsewhere, many Jewish people are currently scared to walk down the street with a kippa. A kippa is a cap that is placed on the head, which Jewish men wear to show their profound reverence for God. The other name for the kippa, “yarmulke”, means “fear of the King”.
For his worried fellow faithful, 48 year old Shalom Koresh, himself an Israeli Jew, created what he calls the “magic kippa”. It’s a dome a few centimeters wide, which looks like a little wig in synthetic or natural hair. The thickness and colour of the hair depends on the customer.
He doesn’t really aim for his Home market, around Rehovot, where anti-Semitism in not a current worry.
His black T-shirt is adorned with the inscription “magic kippa” in French for a reason. “Most orders come from France and Belgium”, he says. The inscription is in gold lettering.
“Since the events in France, I’ve had more emails asking for kippas. There was a lot of media hype, which will help to kick-start sales”, Mr Koresh believes. He is referring to the jihadist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris on the 9th of January, during which four Jews were killed.
A synthetic hair kippa will cost you 49 euros, and a natural hair kippa will set you back as much as 70 euros. A normal model cost 5 euros.
Some criticize the magic kippa for more than its price. For exegetes, wearing a kippa made of hair goes against the very idea of the kippa: distinguishing yourself from non-Jews. “The difference must be clear to the eyes of others”, says Gideon Aran, a teacher at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
He refers to the social statement of wearing a kippa. “There’s no rule in the Torah that tells Jews to cover their heads”, he says; some wear caps to be less visible, some wear no headgear.
“It’ a sort of custom that has become an obligation over the generation. Especially since the emergence of Orthodox Judaism, which is part of the modernization of Judaism, and goes back 200 years”, he says.