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Kipa Sruga- The Crocheted Kipa- Where & Why did it start?

Rabbi Ari ShvatElul 18, 5780
34
Question
I have a strange question Re Kipa sruga... How/why did we change the Jewish look? Is it a way of being mehudar with colors? Any historic or ideological thoughts on this?
Answer
Originally, until the 60's, the youth wore the same black old-fashioned kipot or berets as their great-grand-fathers, and it was seen as "modern" or "Zionist" to, at the age of 18, stop wearing them. The counter-effect was that those who were proud of being religious-Zionists, started sporting an alternative, Eretz Yisrael- style kipa, which was clearly a proud call to modernize Torah, making it more colorful and attractive. Legend has it that the wife of Rav Moshe Zvi Neria, the founder of the 1st Yeshivat Bnei Akiva in Kfar HaRo'eh, crocheted the new style for that reason, but I asked his daughter, who testified to the contrary, that he began wearing the kipa sruga afterwards, to be on the same "wavelength", as his students. In Bnei Akiva, the co-ed religious-Zionist movement, the custom started for girls to croshet kipot for their boy-friends, which also clearly has hashkafic ramifications regarding the place and active participation of girls in modern Judaism (even if they don't wear the kipot!), and is also an expression of the co-ed movement and modern society, which doesn't distance boys and girls as much as was traditionally done. Some add that ideologically (although this clearly wasn't the original intention), the kipa sruga expresses the idea that religious Zionism sees the redemption as a slow and natural developing process (like the crocheting itself), with the pro-active role of man (or woman!) seen as part of the ideal. R. Moshe Feinstein writes that there is clearly no minimal halachic size for the yarmulke, so that's not an issue. Today, it's been so accepted in many places, that to revert to wearing the old black yarmulkas in those places may be a problem of "yuhara" (changing from the norm to religiously "show-off" to others).
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