(JTA) — Israel’s new prime minister is in all probability the first a person who has caught a wad of chewing gum to his head ideal right before a general public function.
Naftali Bennett, who took business this 7 days, is the to start with prime minister in the country’s history to regularly don a kippah, or Jewish ritual head masking. Unlike his secular predecessors, he identifies as a religious Zionist and techniques Present day Orthodox Judaism, which necessitates adult males to address their heads.
He’s also bald. That tends to make it a challenge to preserve the smaller crocheted disc on the back again of his head, wherever it is historically worn. The classic approaches of securing a kippah — bobby pins and metallic hair clips — are of no use to Bennett.
But it stays on. No issue exactly where Bennett is — in parliament, on the marketing campaign path, providing a news interview — the kippah is there, mounted on his scalp, or at times on the slender layer of buzzed hair that surrounds his bald place.
Appearing on a comedy communicate show in 2013, when he was a freshman lawmaker, Bennett reported that he employs a mixture of tape and gravity to continue to keep the kippah on his head.
But the moment, he recalled, he experienced to give a speech outdoor in the wind and found that he was out of tape. So he took a piece of chewing gum (presumably ABC) and utilised it to glue the kippah to his head.
“I had to improvise,” he reported. “So we MacGyvered it.”
Bennett does not use ordinary Scotch tape. His adhesive of selection is a products invented and bought beginning in 2013 by Haim Levin, a 65-year-aged bus driver residing in a mostly Present day Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv.
The solution, identified as the Kipa Keeper, is produced of reusable hypoallergenic double-sided healthcare tape, which makes it possible for the kippah to stick to heads with minor to no hair. It’s offered in packs of 40 and charges 40 shekels, about $12.50, which include shipping. Levin declined to say how many he sells just about every calendar year.
“It was Yom Kippur, when everyone in synagogue bows down [to the ground] and prostrates by themselves, and I saw that 20 to 30% of the worshippers experienced their kippah slide to the ground,” Levin, himself a bald kippah-wearer, informed the Jewish Telegraphic Company. “I understood I had to appear up with an plan for the kippah to continue to be on the head.”
Levin does not remember just when Bennett began using his item — a supply near to Bennett verified to JTA that the primary minister utilizes it — but states he received in contact with the upcoming Israeli chief in the hope of boosting sales. They took a picture collectively in 2015 in Bennett’s office, when he was economic system minister. Levin told JTA that Bennett final purchased the solution a week and a 50 % in the past.
“It truly assisted,” Levin informed JTA pertaining to his outreach to Bennett. “There are however folks who get in touch with them ‘Bennett’s stickers.’”
In Israel, exactly where kippah decision usually signifies religious and political identity, Bennett’s personalized design and style — a small crocheted kippah — alerts that he’s a spiritual Zionist. By distinction, a black velvet kippah would detect him as haredi, or extremely-Orthodox, when much larger crocheted or knit kippot, which may well stay additional readily on a bald pate, are favored by a subset of settlers who have a tendency to be extra religious, overtly religious and nationalist. The point that Bennett’s kippah is smaller, and worn toward the back again of the head, suggests that he’s on the extra “modern” conclude of the Present day Orthodox neighborhood.
Regardless of how Bennett keeps it on, the kippah is an essential portion of his identification as perfectly as a symbolic change for Israel. In the state’s early many years, the ruling elite was comprised of secular socialists from David Ben-Gurion’s Mapai party, a precursor to today’s Labor. Religious Jews — along with Jews of Center Eastern descent and Israeli Arabs — were generally excluded from positions of ability in Israel’s govt and culture.
That commenced to modify in 1977, when the proper-wing Likud social gathering led by Menahem Start mobilized a coalition of conservatives and religious and Middle Japanese Jews to gain energy. And in the settlement company that experienced begun next the 1967 6-Working day War, spiritual Zionist Jews experienced a trigger to rally close to.
Since then, religious Zionists (who usually follow Modern day Orthodoxy) have mostly recognized with the political correct, which has led Israel’s governments for most of the previous 45 years. Haredi Israelis have historically not recognized as Zionist, but in recent many years have also gravitated to the Israeli proper less than previous Primary Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, like his mostly male predecessors, donned a kippah at some ceremonies and at religious sites, but did not put on a person on a regular foundation.
When Bennett entered politics in 2012, he took the helm of Israel’s religious Zionist occasion, the Jewish Residence, and aimed to broaden its staunchly proper-wing message to attractiveness outside of Orthodox Israelis.
Because then, he has tried to stand for a fusion between Jews of all types of religiosity, even as he has pursued a correct-wing agenda each domestically and in conditions of Israel’s settlement coverage. In a 2019 Fb submit, Bennett defined his personal spiritual apply as “Israeli-Jewish.”
“Israeli-Jewish can imply spiritual, standard, secular, haredi-nationalist or haredi,” he wrote. “Israeli Jews really don’t choose just about every other centered on how strictly they notice mitzvot. Israeli Jews love and settle for each and every Jew.”
Bennett has explained his personal religious observance together the very same traces. He was born into a non-Orthodox loved ones and grew to become far more observant of his individual volition. His spouse, Gilat, was secular when they achieved, and he has explained that she was drawn to spiritual Judaism for the duration of the decades they lived in New York Metropolis.
At one level he wore his kippah as a political selection. Bennett wrote past 12 months that at the time Primary Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, he experienced stopped donning a kippah for a couple of yrs. But he felt that due to the fact Rabin’s assassin was an Orthodox Jew, the religious community was getting blamed en masse for the murder. So, to make a assertion, Bennett wrote, “I place the kippah back again on my head.”
Now he wears the kippah constantly and life a spiritual daily life. Nonetheless, he has penned that his family members makes the very same little compromises that quite a few religious-secular partners in Israel do.
Although they retain kosher and Shabbat at household, his wife’s mother and father push to their location on Shabbat, which is forbidden by Jewish regulation. And when they take in at the home of his in-rules, they never test how strictly kosher the kitchen area is beforehand.
Bennett has been shamed by haredi politicians for posing as a spiritual Jew publicly although compromising on his personal religious follow. But the resource near to Bennett claimed that the key minister sees his individual case in point as a bridge across a cultural and spiritual divide in Israel.
Bennett believes that “at the very least in theory, the crocheted kippah is and should really be the middle floor,” the supply stated. “He experienced his pretty solid belief about what it usually means to be spiritual, and so it didn’t intimidate him when men and women tried using to outflank him as nonreligious.”
Levin mentioned it’s “a very good thing” that Bennett works by using his product, while he added that it does not make a variance to him regardless of whether the prime minister is a kippah wearer. And he mentioned he has still to make up his thoughts about regardless of whether Bennett, who created political concessions in purchase to helm a narrow, fractious and controversial coalition, is the correct person for the work.
But Levin is very pleased to have Bennett as a buyer. And though he reported he could not share a copy of the primary minister’s most latest receipt, he promised that Bennett paid full price tag.