web analytics
December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



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
Israel Lebanon Peace Project Flag
UN Demands Israel Pay Lebanon $850 Million
Latest Indepth Stories
UN Flags

If the UN Grants national recognition to Palestine, why stop there? Tibet, Chechnya, Basque…

The annual  Chabad menorah lighting in Sydney has been called off this year because of the murders in the Lindt cafe.

The decision to not publicly light the Menorah in Sydney, epitomizes the eternal dilemma of Judaism and Jews in the Diaspora.

Greiff-112814-Men

Am Yisrael is one family, filled with excruciating pain&sorrow for losing the 4 kedoshim of Har Nof

Two dreidels from the author’s extensive collection.

What is its message of the dreidel?” The complexity and hidden nature of history and miracles.

Police play down Arab terrorism as mere “violence” until the truth can no longer be hidden.

The 7 branches of the menorah represent the 7 pillars of secular wisdom, knowledge, and science.

Obama obtained NO verifiable commitments from Cuba it would desist from acts prejudicial to the US

No one would deny that the program subjected detainees to less than pleasant treatment, but the salient point is, for what purpose?

For the past six years President Obama has consistently deplored all Palestinian efforts to end-run negotiations in search of a UN-imposed agreement on Israel.

It’s not an admiration. It is simply a kind of journalist fascination. It stands out, it’s different from more traditional Orthodoxy.

For Am Yisrael, the sun’s movements are subservient to the purpose of our existence.

Israelis now know Arab terrorism isn’t caused by Israeli occupation but by ending Israeli occupation

Anti-Semitism is a social toxin that destroys the things that people most cherish and enjoy.

Amb. Cooper highlighted the impact of the Chanukah/Maccabee spirit on America’s Founding Fathers

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: