Wikipedia defines a field guide as a book designed to help the reader identify wildlife (plants or animals) or other objects of natural occurrence (e.g. minerals).
It is generally designed to be brought into the 'field' or local area where such objects exist to help distinguish between similar objects. Field guides are often designed to help users distinguish animals and plants that may be similar in appearance but are not necessarily closely related. They are also used for bird watching.
We think that a field guide is a good metaphor for the article and video published this week by the Jewish Daily Forward using the color, style, shape, and material of a kippah or yarmulke as an aid to identifying the sect and level of observance of the Jewish male.
The Forward previously published a similar guide to Sheitels, or wigs, worn by Orthodox Jews.
In her article, Frimet Goldberger reports:
If you see my husband and son walking on the street, you will instantly know that they’re Orthodox Jews — because they are wearing small, round cloth caps, more widely known as yarmulkes. Much like the sheitel, or wig, that many Orthodox women wear, you can tell a lot about a Jewish male by the type of yarmulke (also referred to as a kippah, or in Hasidic Yiddish, kapl) that he wears. Like the jacket and shirt on his back, the absence or presence of peyes, or sidelocks, the headgear announces to the world his family’s tradition and his Jewish denomination.
Pious Jewish men have been covering their heads for hundreds of years, yet there isn’t necessarily a clear and definitive Jewish law, or Halacha, requiring it. Rather, it was one of many of the Jewish customs and traditions, known as minhagim, that evolved over the centuries to become de-facto Halacha, eventually becoming the most universal identifier of observant Jewish boys and men.The article includes 11 illustrations of yarmulke styles. Do you know the difference between a black velvet six-slice kapl and a four-slice kapl with or without a satin rim? How about a shlof-kapl, a na-nach kippah, meshichist, and teryline kippah? Which yarmulkes have no slices? Who wears them and what do their choices say about their religious affiliations?
The video, which graphically shows the diverse choices available, was filmed at Eichler's in Flatbush.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO IS NOT VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)