When I began Tucson Hebrew Academy, I was required to wear a kippah during school. Walking through the Swap Meet, my Nana’s favorite flea market in Tucson, I came across a table filled with these rainbow-colored knitted kippot. I tried one on. It covered my entire head. I was proud to wear a kippah of my own, especially such a unique one.
In college, as I became observant of my own choice, I began to wear a kippah in my daily life. I returned to my favorite rainbow-colored knitted kippah. One day, a Guatemalan man approached me, inquiring why I was wearing this head covering that comes from a specific region in Guatemala. This specific knowledge about my kippah added another layer of meaning for me. By observing this Jewish tradition, I was also connecting with Guatemalan culture.
As a young rabbi in Chicago, I discovered a Fair Trade organization called Maya Works. They purchase art from women in Guatemala at a fair-market price based on its sale in the United States. Such ethical business practices have transformed the lives of individuals and communities. Kippot and Tallitot are this organization’s best-selling products. This cross-cultural/social justice component enhances the kippah’s meaning.
In Talmud Shabbat 118b Rav Huna, the son of Rav Yehoshua states he wouldn’t walk four feet without having his head covered since God’s presence is above him. My unique journey of wearing a kippah connects me with God, values of justice, and peoples’ distinct cultures all over the world.