web analytics
January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Yarmulke


We recently marked the secular new year, and while there’s nothing inherently Jewish about it, perhaps one of the practices associated with January 1 can help ameliorate a shortcoming not at all uncommon among Jews in the workforce.

Throughout the month of January, many of us are asked questions about our new year’s resolutions. We can simply respond that we don’t celebrate the holiday and leave it at that, or we can use this time of year as an opportunity to demonstrate the Jewish impulse to doing teshuvah.

As Jews, we are – or at least should be – in a constant state of self-examination geared toward self-improvement. With that in mind, January just might be an excellent time for a cheshbon hanefesh – a spiritual accounting – on the part of otherwise observant Jewish men who, even in the year 2007, are still reluctant to wear a yarmulke to work.

The reasons for eschewing a yarmulke on the job range from fear of anti-Semitism to general embarrassment at appearing different. The latter was always my rationalization or excuse – one I now wish to refute.

My career happens to be politics, where everything is about first impressions. Those who meet you want to believe and trust in what you are representing or advocating.

My first political employment was at a Miami-based law firm that specialized in lobbying Congress on a myriad of issues. It was in this environment of advocacy that I consciously decided not to wear a yarmulke. I was worried about fitting in and felt that wearing a yarmulke would prevent me from becoming part of the political-social network, thereby impinging on my ability to adequately represent important causes.

Later, working for Congressman John Doolittle (R-CA), I was unable to reconcile the notion of publicly displaying my faith with the strong political image I was attempting to project. The funny thing was, I couldn’t explain to co-workers why I kept Shabbos and kashrus but yet didn’t wear a yarmulke.

I went on to work for Congressman Chris Cannon (R-UT) and at the time was very involved in my Jewish community. I often found myself being asked by friends and acquaintances if I wore a yarmulke in the office. My response had by now undergone a process of evolution. I’d tell them I didn’t wear one because I wouldn’t want people to think I had a secret agenda regarding Israel or the Jewish people.

Talk about rationalization – I had actually convinced myself that the decision to forgo my yarmulke was some sort of noble choice on my part.

I left Congress a few months ago to start a political public speaking program with my (Democratic) father and to head up The Conservative Coalition for Israel. At first I was sure I’d continue with my bareheaded approach, but this time there was a difference. I had, by now, a more spiritual group of people in my life, including my dear wife, and they deeply affected my thinking. It was time, I knew, to try wearing a yarmulke at work.

I’ll admit it was a scary thing to wear a yarmulke on the job that first day, especially after I’d gone so long without one. And it is still a little embarrassing when I meet Congressional staffers and former co-workers who always knew me without the yarmulke. This embarrassment, however, is starkly different from the embarrassment I’d felt before at the thought of putting on my yarmulke. I now was embarrassed that I hadn’t had the guts to put on the yarmulke from the beginning.

Politics can be crass and painful, but now that I wear my yarmulke at work I try harder than ever to reflect the positive attributes of a Torah Jew, and it’s an immensely rewarding experience. I am much more careful with my language, am more truthful, and my work ethic is the strongest it’s ever been. I believe people expect more of me because I am visibly observant – but I also now expect more of myself.

I constantly hear observant businessmen lamenting their inability to learn as much Torah as they’d like to. The fact of the matter is that not all of us are at the place in our lives where we can spend as much time learning as some of our peers. The yarmulke, however, is an important tool in living a Torah lifestyle. With a yarmulke, it is easier to remember what separates us from God and what brings us close.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Yarmulke”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jeremy Bird, working for Israeli campaign outfit V15, shown at Ted Talk, May 20, 2014.
V15 US Political Operative Marinated in Hate-Israel Activism
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Maury Mordechai Eliyahu Litwak

We recently marked the secular new year, and while there’s nothing inherently Jewish about it, perhaps one of the practices associated with January 1 can help ameliorate a shortcoming not at all uncommon among Jews in the workforce.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-yarmulke/2007/01/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: