Kipot Gone Political

From the WSJ:

Estelle Julian expects to turn some heads with the political message on her head this week. The 76-year-old Jewish Republican will be sporting a yarmulke with the words "John McCain is Zayer Shain," Yiddish for "John McCain is Great," at a Reform synagogue in Hillsborough, N.J.

Religion and Politics Mix

Yarmulkes have become a political fashion statement this election cycle.

The traditional Jewish head covering is usually plain, with solid colors or simple patterns. But this year, a number of American Jews will observe the Jewish New Year, which begins Monday night, with yarmulkes promoting presidential candidates.

Shlomo Perelman, owner of, said political yarmulkes first became popular during the 2000 election season, when Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut became the first Jew on a major-party presidential ticket. That year, Mr. Perelman sold 60 of the yarmulkes, also known as kippahs. This year, they are making a bigger splash in the Jewish community. Mr. Perelman has sold about 160, and another retailer, Shmuel Tennenhaus, has sold more than 400. "You’re going to have quite a political statement in all the [synagogues] around the country," said Mr. Perelman.

Mr. Tennenhaus began selling political yarmulkes through a Web site he launched in late June called His self-designed kippahs for supporters of Barack Obama say "The Obamicah" on one side and "My bubby [Yiddish for grandmother] is voting for Obama" on the other. Ms. Julian’s McCain kippah was also one of Mr. Tennenhaus’s creations.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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