Middle Eastern women are just as fashion conscious as their counterparts everywhere else in the world. In Israel head coverings are NOT just accessories or fashion statements they ARE a huge part of cultural identification and religious affiliation. While not all women in the country wear hats, scarves or veils on a regular basis those that do, follow long standing and well established styles related to their national or religious group. In Jerusalem even the casual visitor soon learns to identify a woman’s affiliation based upon how she wears her shawl, headscarf, kerchief or veil.
Christian women generally wear hats or scarves during worship only. The following two photographs are of Christian women worshiping at HaKotel HaMa’aravi (The Western Wall) in Jerusalem.
This third photograph is of a Catholic nun from Nigeria greeting Indonesian Christians. Such eclectic meetings are an oft-repeated scene at the Western Wall where people from all over the world joyfully celebrate religious freedom and praise G-d, each according to their tradition.
In the Druze community of Israel, women wear dark blue or black gowns with a gauzy white head covering called “mandil”. Israeli Druze have served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The woman in this photograph is celebrating her son’s “Ma’asah Kumta”, (“Beret March”), initiation ceremony into the IDF’s Elite Paratrooper’s Unit. She is seen here distributing traditional Druze sweets to IDF officers and other families attending the celebration at Givat HaTakmoshet (Ammunition Hill) in Jerusalem.
Moslem women wear a “hijab”, a veil or scarf which covers the hair and neck. It is worn by observant Moslem women irrespective of their marital status, any time they are in the presence of men who are not their relatives. According to Islamic scholarship the word hijab is also given a broader meaning which includes: modesty, privacy and morality. Indeed Moslem women proudly wear their hijab for modesty and privacy as part of their “muhajaba” (religious purpose).
Here are two Jerusalemite Moslem women wearing hijab which beautifully match and accessorize their outer wear.
In this third photograph, taken at the Western Wall Plaza, both women are dressed in traditional clothing. One is wearing a hijab and the other is wearing a niqab which fully covers the body and most of the face of the wearer, leaving a narrow opening for the eyes.
Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair in compliance with the Halachic (Jewish religious law) code of “tzniut” (modesty, privacy). They may choose between “mitpachat” (scarf), small veils (often worn by modern Sefardi (Spanish-Jewish) women), hats or wigs.
In Jerusalem scarves and hats can be found in upscale hat shops, ready to wear shops, or on stands, just walking past the corner store.
All photographs for this blog post are by Isa David-Ben-Rafael and are owned by IsraeLightly.
Special thanks to my daughter who went through “just bunches” of photographs in order to assist me in selecting those used for this post.
This post is dedicated to the memory of my beloved mother-in-law. Helen, who generally went hatless, always purchased a new sun hat, “just for the fun of it”, each time she came to visit us in Israel. Her last hat was a bright blue broad brimmed floppy one.