There’s a lot of talk about tichels versus sheitals happening lately, and Wrapunzel seems to be brought up a lot in this debate. Here is what we have to say about it! (Scroll down for a written transcript.)
(Btw I made a mistake with the job titles in this video-oops! Yedida is our On-Site Coordinator. Naomi Rose is our Director of Operations!)
Here is a transcript of what I said in the video – thank you Tamar Adina for transcribing this!!
I want to speak to you a little bit about tichels versus sheitels. For those of you who don’t know, tichels refer to a headcovering that Jewish women wear. It refers to a scarf, or kerchief in Yiddish, also known as mitpachot (plural) or mitpachat (single) in Hebrew. So tichels are the scarf type of covering. Sheitels are when a woman uses a wig to cover her hair.
So there’s been a lot of talk lately on tichels versus sheitels. And for those of you who don’t know, my name is Andrea Grinberg, and I am from Wrapunzel, which is a hair covering community and website – just this huge explosion of women who have started wrapping their hair with scarves. And with all this tichels versus sheitels talk, I’ve often heard it said that I’m on “Team Tichels”. And I’m used as an example for that. So this is the official video where we actually come down and talk about this, and I’m actually going to be making a statement as Wrapunzel.
The title of this video: “Tichels Vs. Sheitels” is actually a misnomer. I despise the word versus. And I think that there has been a lot of polarization in Judaism lately, which in many ways is fine. To be different, to have differences is fine, and we’re actually supposed to have differences, but to say that “I’m right and you are wrong” is where the problem lies.
So I’m going to say a little bit about the word “Shalom”. Shalom is often translated as “peace”. And a lot of people believe that in order to have world peace, we have to all think and do the same thing. And that’s simply not the case. Shalom actually means harmony. And harmony means that we are all playing the same piece of music, and that we have the goal of making the world a beautiful, vibrant place, but we are all playing different instruments. We are all playing different notes, we are doing different things. That is what ‘shalom’ is. And that is what I hope I’m doing with my little part in Wrapunzel. That is what I hope is going to happen in the world one day.
So let me tell you a little bit about Wrapunzel, because I think that not everyone knows how Wrapunzel was created. In a nutshell, I was a blissfully happy newlywed who had just moved to Chicago from Israel, and I loved covering my hair because it honored my marriage and it was allowing me to be creative – and it was just really really really fun! People were always asking me questions about it and I realized very quickly that somehow I was an “odd one out” because I loved covering my hair. All the women, really, ALL the women that I talked to in Chicago, did NOT love covering their hair. They saw it as a burden, they weren’t finding any joy in this mitzvah. And I felt so sad for them! Here I was in my little blissful newlywed boots covering my hair, and these women weren’t finding joy through it. So the reason why Wrapunzel was created was through a very naïve hope of mine that if I could share my joy in covering my hair, maybe these other women could find that joy as well. I in no way wanted to tell women to stop wearing their sheitels. I just wanted them to find joy. A lot of women [in Chicago] were telling me that they felt like they either had to wear a sheitel (a wig) or they had to wear a black pre-tied snood, and they felt like they had no other options.
So when I created Wrapunzel, I just wanted to give women options.
That’s really all I wanted to do.
So that’s how Wrapunzel was created. And thank G-d, it seems that we’re able to do that, because we’ve all come together as women to give each other options.
In Judaism we have the halacha (Jewish law) that a married woman should cover her hair. It doesn’t say with what, it doesn’t say how, just that a married woman should cover her hair. And whether you cover your hair with a tichel, a sheitel, a hat, or a combination, you are fulfilling the mitzvah. You are covering your hair. And that is that. That is what I believe.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a sheitel. I own a sheitel. And even with all these years of never wearing it, I haven’t given it away, because you never know. I’m keeping it, and I think sheitels can be beautiful (and modest). Okay?
So, the halacha is to cover your hair. How we do that, how we find ourselves in that, how we reveal our unique personal light, that’s up to us. And we really really have to look to ourselves and be honest with ourselves about how we are going to do that.
Now, I will mention that there are sects of Judaism that really hold strongly that covering with a tichel, a mitpachat, is the only way to cover and that sheitels are not valid. And there are some sects of Judaism that hold that covering with a sheitel is the only way to cover your hair. I’m not talking from any of those vantage points. Both of those vantage points are valid, and both I will point out, acknowledge that there are other sects of Judaism that have valid ways of looking at things. Judaism is not about all of us doing the same thing in the same way. We all have the same goal, but we are not doing things in the same way. That’s the whole point.
So, this video is not talking to those that have to do one or the other. I don’t come from those sects of Judaism, and the majority of women that have found Wrapunzel do not come from those sects of Judaism.
I want to give you an example. Because I hear often that the whole “tichel movement” has become this huge movement and women are feeling liberated and joyous for the first time in their lives, and somehow they feel that “if I go back to wearing a sheitel” then somehow I’m a failure, or somehow Andrea won’t approve. No. No. No. No. No. No. Really. No.
I really want to give you an example, because we are supposed to find our own unique joy in doing this mitzvah. And I want to give you an example of someone that might have found her joy actually through stopping wearing a tichel. And how she is really really doing this mitzvah. This is a completely hypothetical example. Let’s say that there is a woman who is very introverted, spiritual, and very soft and kind, and absolutely beautiful, a wonderful graceful woman. And she’s been wearing tichels. Now, because she’s so beautiful and so kind she gets a lot of attention for these tichels. She is a very modest, very introverted woman. But she gets a lot of questions when she goes out about what she’s wearing and how she’s doing it and she doesn’t like that. Because she feels like first of all somehow it’s not modest, she doesn’t want to go out and make this constant statement about who she is. She just wants to be a Jew instead of constantly being asked about what this is on her head. And it’s distracting her from her family and being with her kids and doing what she wants to do – it’s this constant conversation starter. And she doesn’t want to have that conversation. That is not her avodah. That is not what she wants to be doing in this world.
And she’s found that once she switched to a sheitel, she could actually, finally be herself. She could finally leave her house and not get those constant questions. Now for me, I love getting those questions and I love expressing myself in this way, but for this woman, this is not who she needs to be. She doesn’t want those questions and she shouldn’t have to deal with those questions. And for the first time in her life, now that she’s covering with a wig, she actually enjoys covering, because now she really feels like she is honoring her marriage instead of being part of some doctrine, or some movement it’s like making a constant statement about how she covers her hair. She doesn’t like that. Now she feels like she is really covering her hair for herself, her marriage, and for Hashem.
I really want you to think about that because that woman is completely valid. She has found herself, she has finally found her joy in this mitzvah. Now will she go back and forth? Maybe. Will I ever wear a sheitel? Never say never! You never know! We are constantly evolving and constantly trying to find ourselves. You have to be honest and really true with yourself. So in that example, this woman who has found herself and found her joy through covering with a sheitel, we have to acknowledge that a woman might need to do that.
I just want to clear something up because I have a lot of friends that get married, and they seem to think that if they get married and they choose to cover their hair with a sheitel, oh well, “don’t tell Andrea, she’s going to be disappointed with me.” You know, G-d willing if I have a daughter I don’t want her to think that she has to be me. Or that she has to cover with a tichel. That’s really not the point here. We want people to find their unique joy through doing this mitzvah.
Now I have been asked numerous times, and so have other women who work at Wrapunzel have been asked to come out and make a statement about tichel wearing versus other ways of covering (ie wearing a sheitel). And I want to say this now and I want to say this clearly: that’s not going to happen. That is not what Wrapunzel is about. That is not what I set out to do. I’m not here to make “sides”. Sides are not the point. I’m not going to do that and I don’t believe that. It’s not going to happen. So please, if anyone wants to send any more people to me asking me to do that, just. don’t… The answer is no. Because that is not the point. And telling someone that what she is doing is wrong when she is covering her hair, she’s doing the mitzvah. That’s not what it’s about. Yes, I want to expose people to the joy of covering their hair this way, because that’s my joy and I want to share that. But beyond that, I’m not interested.
So interesting fact, and I’m going to leave you with this. There’s a woman that works for Wrapunzel and her name is Yedida, she is basically the mover and shaker, everything, she keeps the tichel room from falling on my head when I walk in. She is so organized and wonderful and joyous. Yedida is our on-site-coordinator. Now, don’t get me wrong, Wrapunzel is an extremely tiny, just women-coming-together business, we only have three people actually that work for Wrapunzel, but we need those three people to make things happen because there is a lot that needs to go into sending out your tichels all over the world and bringing women together. When Rivkah Malka had to step down, and I was about to have a baby, we really really needed some help to make things happen so things would not fall apart when I had Shalomy.
So, who is Yedida? Yedida is our on-site coordinator. She is amazingly organized and has innovative ideas about how to makes things better and how to make things work, and she is the person that allows me to be here making a video like this instead of having tichels fall onto my head when I walk into the room. That’s why I’m able to make this video and I’m able to take care of my baby.
So, thank G-d we have Yedida.
What does that have to do with this video? Yedida is a sheitel wearer. She wears sheitels I’d say 95% of the time. Sometimes she wears hats, and once in a while she wears a tichel. But she wears sheitels. And she looks beautiful and modest and wonderful and absolutely shining in her sheitels. When we hired her, some people expressed some surprise. We had a lot of women applying for this job, and many of them were big tichel wearers. When we hired Yedida some people were like, “Why would you hire someone that wears a sheitel to work at Wrapunzel?” And my answer was “How could I not hire Yedida?! She’s amazing!” I didn’t even really notice what this woman was wearing on her head. The whole point of Wrapunzel is bringing women together and this woman is going to help us do that, she’s going to help us be able to do that. In the end, this is really what Wrapunzel is all about. Bringing women together. Helping women reclaim their joy, express their creativity, and shine their light upon the world in their own, unique way. So it’s not that we hired Yedida because she wears a sheitel, but it’s actually perfectly fitting that she does because that is what Wrapunzel is all about. It’s about all women. It’s about the full woman.
I hope you enjoyed this video.
Again, there are no sides.
There’s just us as Jewish women trying to reclaim our joy, express ourselves, to be who we need to be, and giving women options.
All the best.