Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

YESSIR, THAT'S MY YARMULKE So, What's a Nice Jewish Boy like You Doing in That Cap?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

YESSIR, THAT'S MY YARMULKE So, What's a Nice Jewish Boy like You Doing in That Cap?

Article excerpt

Brian Herstig wears a yarmulke as a sign of reverence and

respect for God.

It's also a way to support his favorite football team.

Herstig, director of Judaica at the Jewish Community Alliance,

ceremonially covers his crown with a scarlet and gray Ohio State

Buckeyes yarmulke.

They are called yarmulkes (Yiddish), kippot(Hebrew) or skull

caps. Whatever name is used, these traditional Jewish head

coverings are now available in neon colors, football insignias

or cartoon characters.

"Everyone is looking for something new and different," said

Denise Dougherty, owner of YA-EL Imports Inc. in Connecticut,

which supplies yarmulkes to synagogue gift shops around the

country.

Jacksonville is on top of the trend.

Yarmulkes featuring Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja

Turtles, Flintstones, Lion King and Nintendo's Super Mario can

be seen on heads of boys at Solomon Schechter and Beth Shalom

Hebrew schools in Mandarin.

"You name it. I've seen everything. Lots of Jaguars ones," said

Lois Tompkins, principal of Beth Shalom Hebrew School.

On older boys and adult males, NFL and college football team

colors are the common yarmulke adornment.

Jewish men and boys wear yarmulkes to symbolize a separation of

man and God. Some wear them all the time. Others put them on

only while praying, eating or attending synagogue.

Though yarmulkes symbolize reverence, they aren't considered

sacred, local rabbis said.

"They really have no significance, the color or design doesn't

matter. As long as it's a head covering," said Rabbi Dov Kentof

of the Jacksonville Jewish Center.

"Some may think it is way out. But it is just a head covering.

There is no disrespect," said Rabbi Gary Perras of the Beth

Shalom Congregation, who has been known to wear a Jaguars

yarmulke.

In Jacksonville, even the strictest, orthodox rabbis embrace

the fad.

"It's a lovely phenomenon. It encourages pride in Judaism and

Americanism," said Rabbi Avraham Kelman of the Etz Chaim

Synagogue.

However, Kelman said he wouldn't wear anything but a solid

colored yarmulke. …

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