Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mitpachot for dummies

There are a whole lot of ways to wear a mitpachat (head scarf). There is the basic bun look where the scarf is wrapped around the hair and tied into a neat bun at the nape of the neck. There is the new (what I call) “alien do” where the bun is quite large, often comprised of more than one scarf, and is formed between the top and bottom of the head. Kind of like a conehead,a pretty conehead. Then there is the soft flowing look where the scarf is tied around the head once and the material is allowed to linger freely and flowingly down the back of the woman. Truly bilblical looking. The list goes on and on and the real professionals know how to incorporate several scarves into one design. There must be dozens of ways to tie a mitpachat, and I have not managed to master any of them. Not a single one. For most of my married life I have been wearing a sheitel (wig), and as weird as it seems to wear someone else’s hair on your head, it actually felt quite normal. At least, it looked normal. When I decided to move to Israel, one of my friends cautioned me that in Israel, if you are young and cool, you wear a scarf. Anyone who wears a sheitel or a hat is obviously old and/or a dork. I’m not old, and I don’t want people to find out that I’m really a closet dork. Not yet anyway. Truth be told, I’ve always felt that covering one’s hair via a scarf was more in sync with the spirit of the law anyway. I made the determined decision to make the switch from old world sheitel to the timeless headscarf. But the reality is that it is a daily battle for me to tie the darn thing and even more challenging to keep it on. One time, I was driving out of the supermarket parking lot and I noticed the woman driving passed me looking at me with a bit of concern. I figured out later, when I got home and realized that my hair was completely uncovered, that the free fall of my scarf must have begun when she saw me. Maybe it’s because I have thick, unruly, curly hair. Or maybe it’s because I am certainly no native to the land of flowing headwraps. Maybe I will learn with time. Perhaps I should ambush a well-tied headscarf-lady next time I’m in a public restroom and make her spill the tricks of the trade. Or maybe I should go back to wearing some Chinese women’s hair on my head. Actually, make that super soft and fine European hair. Maybe blond. I certainly feel like one when I try to tie these frikin things!

1 comment:

with faith and trust said...

I am also a new olah, although I was wearing scarves in "the old country." And yes, I have stopped people and asked them (and asked friends) to show me how to tie them when I see them looking particularly pretty or different. I saw a book in the Central Bus Station in Yerushalayim that had great pictures and instructions on how to do it, as well as some tutorials online. email me if you haven't already figured it out since this post, and I will be happy to share.