With a major increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported all over Europe, prompting some Jews to try to hide their faith in public, a new accessory was developed to allow Jewish men to wear their yarmulkes but look like they’re not.
It’s a yarmulke made of human hair, called the “Magic Kippa,” referring to the Jewish skullcap’s name in Hebrew.
Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh said he designed the head covering, which marries the yarmulke with the toupee, after hearing how Jews in Europe were taking off their yarmulkes in public for fear of being attacked.
In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, a woman shows yarmulkes, skullcaps made of hair samples, in the city of Rehovot, central Israel. Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh's hairy skullcap, which he has dubbed the "Magic Kippa," comes in an array of shades and colors. He sells them online, starting at 49 euros (56 dollars) for synthetic hair and 79 euros (91 dollars) for ones made of natural hair. The skullcap can be fastened onto the wearer’s real hair with hidden clips. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Koresh told the Times of Israel, “I also heard from people who came in to my shop about how when they were traveling in Europe, their guides told them not to wear a kippa while walking around.”
After he constructed the first design, which attaches to the hair with hidden clips, Koresh started wearing it to his salon. When nobody noticed he was wearing something on his head, he realized the idea just might sell overseas.
He said he’s already gotten orders from France, Belgium and Canada.
In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a yarmulke, a skullcap made of hair samples, on a man's head in the city of Rehovot , central Israel. Koresh has fashioned what he calls "magic" yarmulkes out of hair, designed to allow religious Jews to cover their heads without attracting unwanted attention from anti-Semites. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Depending on the materials used, the yarmulkes range in price from $57 for synthetic hair to $92 for human hair.
"This skullcap is washable, you can brush it, you can dye it," Koresh told the Associated Press. "It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can't wear it, and feel secure."
In this photo taken Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a yarmulke, a skullcap made of hair samples, on a man's head in the city of Rehovot, central Israel. Many Jews in Europe, especially France, say they feel unsafe walking around wearing the symbols of their faith. A 2013 European Union report found that one in five European Jews avoid wearing kippas or other Jewish symbols for fear of being harassed or attacked. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, executive director at Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix, Arizona, told the Times of Israel, “It’s certainly better than wearing nothing.”
Yanklowitz explained that rabbis have ruled that a Jewish man whose life is endangered does not need to wear a yarmulke in public. But if he can wear one that doesn’t look like a yarmulke, he can both stay safe and fulfill his religious obligation.
The AP noted that a 2013 European Union report found that one in five European Jews avoid wearing Jewish symbols in public because they are afraid of being targeted for attack or harassment.