What's in and what's out?
Photo: Haim Zach
I had to rub my eyes three times when I saw the white rug Tzipi Livni placed on her head when meeting Rabbi Ovadia Yosef last week. The inexplicable garment reminded me of a lace curtain from the 1950s. Where did she get this piece? Where was her stylist? Whey wasn’t there anyone out there who could buy her a reasonable hat?
Yet Livni is not alone. I often see photos of secular politicians who head out for a quick visit in the ultra-Orthodox community or encounter seculars who find themselves at an Orthodox family event or a meeting with a senior rabbi and I cannot believe my eyes.
I see serious people putting on strange and delusional combinations of clothing: Women wearing kerchiefs that look like they belong to Polish villagers; shiny white kippas made of satin-like fabrics and looking like a pyramid on top of a man’s coiffure; and skirts that were taken out of the attic or borrowed from an old Purim costume.
In short, they boast a look that turns them into a joke, and this was certainly not their intention. After all, we are talking about men or women who wanted to show respect to their ultra-Orthodox friends, yet ignorance created a comic-tragic result.
The wish to respect others is praiseworthy. But let’s take it all the way. The Orthodox community has its own codes of dress, and before one goes to a social function or event it would be good to do some homework. This is not a sign that one is becoming religious, but rather, an indication of proper education and conduct and truly democratic thinking, which espouses respect for others. There should be no problem with making an effort to learn.
There is no need to learn the nuances of each group and this is also not about huge investment of money. All that is needed is to ask those who know (after all, everyone knows someone in the Orthodox community) how to cover one’s head without looking like a joke and becoming conspicuous in a kilometer radius.
For example, pants are out for women who wish to respect their hosts, even if we are dealing with pants that are as wide as a tent. Meanwhile, even the classiest jacket would not correct the impression formed by an undershirt that is the size of a handkerchief. Just like any reasonable person who goes to the theater is aware of the specific dress code, and won’t arrive wearing the sweatshirt he wore at the gym.
Yet those who insist on doing it should not be surprised by the response.