Apr 20, 2013

The Jewish Hijab Meaning

The term "Jewish hijab" is sometimes used to describe the head covering worn by some Jewish women after marriage. It should be noted, however, that the term "hijab" is not used within Jewish communities to describe this garment or the practice of wearing it. 

The reason why some people describe a Jewish woman's head covering as a Jewish hijab likely has to do with the common association of head coverings with Islamic modesty standards, which are collectively known as hijab. 

Modesty codes in Judaism, on the other hand, are properly known as tzniut. The nature of a Jewish women's head covering and standards of modest dress are different from that practiced by Muslims, however, and the styles worn as part of both Muslim and Jewish hijab are also distinct.

Modesty standards vary within the Jewish community, with some branches of Judaism rejecting strict modesty codes while others embrace them. Some women in Orthodox Judaism practice a custom of covering their hair in public after marriage, reserving the sight of their natural hair for their husbands. These women may choose to wear a wig, known as a sheitel, while others may tuck their hair under a hat, snood, or headscarf. Unlike many Islamic head coverings, those worn by Jewish women do not typically cover the wearer's neck or chest. Nor is a woman usually obligated to wear such a covering until after she is married. Unmarried women and girls are not required to cover their hair, although they may still be expected to dress modestly by covering their legs and arms while in public or in the presence of others.

In Muslim communities, women are typically expected to dress modestly from the age of puberty. Modest dress is often defined as covering the entire body, with the exception of a woman's face and hands, in a way that does not reveal the woman's body shape or hair. While these dress standards are known as hijab, the headscarf or head covering worn by many Muslim women is also colloquially known as a hijab. In countries like the United States, where the majority of women do not cover their heads while in public, the wearing of a headscarf is often associated with the Islamic practice, leading some to refer to head coverings worn by women of other faiths as either a Christian or Jewish hijab, even though the women who practice this custom may not refer to their headscarves in this manner.


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