Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tale of Two Sheitels

Up until I lived in one community down south, I always covered my hair with a hat or tichel. That's what my matriarchs wore, and that was good enough for me. More to the point though, my preference aligned with the various rebbeim I had come into contact with over the years, whose preference is for women to cover their hair with a snood, tichel, hat, and so forth. If you must wear a sheitel- and they recognize that many women have an emotional need to wear sheitel in order to feel adequately feminine- then a synthetic is the primary choice. Look attractive, but not too attractive; look like you have hair, but let it still be obvious to the trained eye that your hair is covered.

But then I moved to the said community, where every woman but me wore a sheitel- even the young Israeli girls. Suddenly I found myself sticking out like a sore thumb- exactly the opposite of the meaning of tznius. So I bit the bullet, sucked it up, and drove an hour and a half out to the mall to buy a synthetic sheitel. Suddenly not only was I adequately tznius, but I was more readily accepted; I started getting invited to this shir, that coffee hour, etc.

Around here, the head covering of choice is the human hair sheitel. After I got engaged to my current husband, my Rav informed me that I had to return to covering my hair. I consequently started to trot out my two synthetics. However, one of my dearest friends here in Flatbush happens to be in the sheitel business, and she was *horrified* by my head coverings, although to her credit, she didn't let on the degree of her loathing. Anyhow, not only did her shop arrange for me to get a short sheitel as a kallah gift, but she gave me a second short blonde sheitel that she rarely wore to tide me over in the interim. As I have previously stated, it's good to have friends like mine! I am so very blessed...

Despite having the two human hair sheitels, I continue to wear primarily hats or tichels during the week, and I have been keeping at least one synthetic sheitel in my collection for weekdays. I just find them more practical, since I can wash them myself and I don't have to worry about them getting wrecked due to rain, snow, or my shoving them on my head layil Shabbos while my hair is sopping wet. Overall, very good to have for day-to-day. But the main downside that I have been experiencing with them is that they tend to only last a few months. So when all else is said and done, you're spending a good $100 minimum each year just for synthetics.

I came to the conclusion last week, when I saw the sad state of my current synthetic and went to find a replacment, that it might actually be more economical if I just wear my human hair sheitels for the time being. Since I'm paying to maintain them as it is, why not just make use of them? Given the frequency with which I wear my sheitels, synthetic or otherwise, the extra amount I would pay to have my sheitels maintained would probably run roughly equal to the costs associated with getting new synthetics. The main problem facing me, after I made my very Yekki decision, was that the blonde sheitel is not the right shade of blonde for me. I need something warmer, less ashy. What if I dye the sheitel, I figured? Wouldn't that make the sheitel "new" for me?

I called around, and found a place right near me that came highly recommended. After ruling out my usual sheitelmachers (my friend was kind enough to imply in her tone when she quoted the price that she understood it was a lot of money, and my usual sheitelmacher said she doesn't do blonde sheitels because they never turn out like the client expects), I trotted over today to drop off the sheitel and hit upon an appropriate colour.

When I walked into the place I was shocked. The place was nothing extraordinary- great lighting, a vaguely clinical look similar to what you would find at the Clinique counter in your local department store, perfectly placed racks of products - and yet something about it screamed "decadent". I was entranced. Given that dying the sheitel is the most extravagant thing that I've done for myself in the last ten years (seriously), I was thrilled that I had a hit upon a place where I felt pampered just by entering their doors. The feeling continued as I was lead to the back and consulted with the colourist. He was amazing. He barely looked at me, but understood immediately that the sheitel had too many green tones for me, and that I needed something warmer but not excessively golden. We settled upon a medium caramel shade. I left with a goodie bag full of brochures for spa treatments, and a sense of relaxation simply from having spent five minutes in the shop.

Suffice it to say, I can't wait until Thursday when I go pick it up. If my regular sheitelmacher is available, I'm going to drop it off with her so that she can set it in time for Shabbos. While I'm not a girlie girl by nature, my penchant for eyeshadow and 3 inch heels aside, I must admit that I am very excited by the whole thing. If it turns out really well, I may just have to post a picture of me on this blog. Then again, that might be quite some time in the future, given that I loathe having my picture taken. In any event, wish me luck!


  1. William Dwek says:

    The next things the "rabbis" will come up with is to tell the woman to wear a CARPET on her head. Not a sheitel AND a hat, but a Carpet. Or you could go for 5 shaitels on your heads and a rug.

    And do you know what the Jewish woman will say to her husband?
    "Yes, husband! I am now wearing a carpet on my head!"

    You women must either be extremely thick, or petrified.

  2. Deborah Shaya says:

    There is No codified Halacha that a married woman must cover her hair totally and constantly whenever she steps out of her house.

    The Halachah has been MISinterpreted. When the Halachah refers to "Covering hair," it does not mean "Cover your hair with hair!" and "constantly for life." The Halachah is that:

    A married woman is required to cover her hair when:

    (1) she lights the candles to welcome in Shabbat and Yom Tov – lechavod Shabbat ve Yom Tov, and

    (2) when she goes to the Synagogue, because that is the place of Kedusha.

    The Halacha does not require anything more from married women. This is the true interpretation of the Halacha.

    The misinterpretation of the Torah is completely Assur, and a twisting of the Torah.The Torah must remain straight.