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What is a Jewish wig? - An Interview with Bracha Kanar of Sayar Wigs

What is a Jewish wig? Why do Jewish women wear wigs? - Q&A with an Orthodox Jewish Wig Owner

Did you know that wigs and hair toppers are a very important part of a Jewish woman’s life? 

Hasidic or Orthodox jewish women cover their natural hair after marriage. This makes wigs a huge part of the culture. 

For Jewish American Heritage Month we interviewed Bracha Kanar, owner of Sayar Wigs, a Jewish human hair wig brand about the history and culture wigs hold in the Jewish community.

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Interview conducted via email on April, 2020


What is a sheitel?
"A sheitel is the Yiddish term for wig. Observant Jewish women cover their hair after marriage with a wig or other hair covering."

Why do Jewish Orthodox women wear wigs after marriage?
"Modesty is a very foundational value in Jewish life. From a very young age, children are taught to act, speak, and dress modestly, expressing the refinement of Jewish life and connection to G-d.

The outer self is covered in a modest and dignified way, allowing the inner self to shine through. The emphasis in Judaism is on internal qualities, rather than outer appearance.

For example if one would ask me to describe a friend, would I describe her as medium height, blonde and curvy? Or would I describe her kindness, quick wit, generosity, and open home?

By covering our bodies modestly- the focus is on the true self, without distractions. 

Another Jewish value is, that the holier and more special something is, the more it is carefully and lovingly wrapped and concealed. A Sefer Torah, Torah scroll, for example, is covered fully with a beautiful velvet mantle, and is never left open and undraped - out of respect for its inherent holiness; we treat it with great care.

Laws of modesty apply to both men and women, with the different expressions of modesty that reflect their unique natures. When a woman marries, she attains a new holiness in being united with the other half of her soul.

She covers her hair, to be seen from now on only by herself and by her husband, reserving this beautiful part of herself for only the two of them to enjoy."


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Can Jewish women wear wigs before marriage? 
"It’s unusual for Jewish women to wear wigs before marriage, but they certainly can and do if their hair is thinning, if they are experiencing hair loss, or going through medical treatments that cause them to lose their hair."

Does a wig have to be Kosher certified for a Jewish woman to wear it?
"According to Torah law, a Jew cannot benefit from anything that was used in service to idolatry. Some years ago, a large percentage of the hair that was used for wigs was sourced from India. It came to light that sometimes Indian women would cut their hair as part of an idolatrous ritual, and subsequently this hair was sold to wig manufacturers.

At that point, some women stopped wearing human hair wigs altogether, and others made sure that their wigs had certification that ensured that they were not from this source and were indeed permissible by Jewish law.

At this point in time, I believe that this is no longer an issue, maybe because the hair sourcing is monitored more closely or because the majority of human hair used for wigs is no longer sourced primarily from India, and within the Orthodox community, there generally aren't kosher certifications on wigs.

When you see wigs listed as ‘’kosher wigs’’ that’s usually just referring to a “Jewish wig” or a wig that an Orthodox Jewish woman would wear.

Some manufactures still sew a label in their wigs attesting to the fact that the wig is suitable according to Torah law. If you see Hebrew lettering on the label of your wig, that's probably what it is!"

Do you cover your hair? If so, what methods do you use or prefer? [E.g. Wigs, toppers, scarfs, hats, headbands etc.]
"I have been covering my hair for 12 years, since the morning after my wedding. I cover my hair fully, both at home and outside of the house. I wear wigs and also love wearing scarves around the house or when having a beach day!"

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What are some misconceptions regarding Orthodox Jewish women and their relationship with wigs and modesty?
"One misconception is that being modest means trying to look less attractive. People question why we are allowed to wear wigs that look so much like our own hair - or better!

They wonder why we look so beautiful if we are supposed to look modest. In fact, we are encouraged to take pride in our appearance, and to enjoy our observance.

Covering our own natural hair is the Torah law, and each woman does it in a way that feels beautiful and comfortable to her.

Wigs can look as natural as our own hair, and can be styled in ways that allow the wearer to feel chic, beautiful, and proud to uphold this value."

Has your hair covering practice changed at all since you first got married?
"Covering my hair is something that I've enjoyed doing, although there have definitely been times when I miss the convenience of throwing my hair into a bun! Thankfully we have sport wigs that can give the same effect and convenience.

Through my business as a wig manufacturer and stylist, I’ve come to appreciate this practice even more, as I see the confidence and excitement of women as they enjoy the wigs that have been styled to their liking, from trendy new brides to elegant grandmothers and everyone in between."

What advice would you give to a woman who is beginning to explore wigs for modesty?
"I would encourage them to start slowly.

A Jewish woman who is beginning to cover her hair may want to start with her first Jewish wig that’s very similar to her own hairstyle and color. She may want to experiment with wearing scarves in the house.

Together with her wig stylist she should make sure that her hair covering fits properly and comfortably. For some women who feel that it’s too big a change to take on all at once, starting by covering partially and covering more as they get more comfortable might be helpful. 

Most importantly - I would recommend exploring the concept of modesty and hair covering for women, especially with an experienced teacher or friend.

Understanding the reasons behind this practice will deepen her experience and make it more meaningful."


You can see all of the pieces that Sayar Wigs has here!

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I think covering your hair in public with a scarf makes more sense! Wearing a wig defeats the purpose. And why shave your head? You should look pretty in front of your husband with your real hair. Check out the Muslim women cover styles and learn from them. You can get as strict as you wish with them.

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Non-sense, literally, but they criticize muslims for covering up their heads?! At least they do it without anything related to marriage and its forbidden to look like real hair because is just non sense to wear a wig that look better than your own hair, but you still believe thats modesty? Ha ha ha

To the people saying this isn’t for God and it’s all about appearances and outer beauty. The truth is, this is one of the most beautiful moments you will ever see. This represents that your spouse is the only one that sees the true you … just as only God sees your heart. We are the bride of Christ, I’m a Christian, but our faiths foundation is theirs. The whole point was always to point to what Christ did. Making this all the most beautiful and intimate moment a wife can share with her husband and God. Also, it’s an intimate moment for the husband and God because they are given a part of that same intimacy. I hate that hearts are so hard now days. Romans 1 has never been more true: thinking themselves wise they became fools. The people posting these things have never spoken to God. How can you judge someone you haven’t even talked to?? He’s a real and loving God, soften your heart and talk to Him instead of about Him.
There is nothing ugly in the Jewish or Christian faith. They’re ugly people claiming the faiths, but God is nothing but beautiful.

I’m appalled by the blatant antisemitism in the comments. i just wanted to say I see this blatant antisemitism.

What happens after a divorce or after a woman is widowed?

When you cover yourself up, you are not projecting your true self, as they say, but your hiding yourself. You are projecting the fake you! I don’t understand why women allow this, it’s submissive.

Very interesting! Thanks for sharing!

And ignore the comments from the negative republicans. Or try, anyways.

“The emphasis in Judaism is on internal qualities, rather than outer appearance.”?? No, you wear and SELL wigs that look even better than your natural hair! Clearly your emphasis is on outer appearance.
The purpose of a meaningless contradictory tradition like this is to ensure the woman remains enslaved to rituals. What’s worse, you’re passing along this nonsense to your daughters.

Very interesting! Thank you for the insight! I am currently watching “Rough Diamonds “ and was curious. I’m very interested in other cultures.

weird culture.

i really dont get it. everyone including him saw your natural hair and all of a sudden that your married you gotta shave or cover your natural hair. make it make sense because it has nothing to do with having a relationship with God.

Why after the wedding? So the other people can not see your hair, but before the wedding everyone and everybody have seen it. It’s like been naked your hole life and the cover yourself after the wedding so no other than your husband can see you. Everyone knows how you looked naked. So what’s the point?

Love GOD. Love PEOPLE. Love GOD’S creation.

Absolutely do not believe you about your sourcing. Prove where your hair comes from. Have you actually gone to your manufacturer like a smart, diligent business person should? I’ll bet my life savings you jave blood on your hands with where this hair comes from.

hiss hiss hiss. Reform Judaism is uplifting and none of these wigs. hiss hiss hiss

I don’t understand covering the hair with something that probably looks better than most of our real hair for “modesty”. Like you’re literally wearing a thick, glossy, sexy wig that enhances your beauty rather than offers modesty. It’s the opposite effect.
Lol whatever; to each their own delusions

Appreciate the open sharing. Wonderful to gain new insight. I’m certainly left with some questions as mentioned above. There’s always differing levels of practicing, and interpretations, and many paths to take. Curious of the many many similarities between paths. Wish they could bring us together more than apart.

Stef, I am not Jewish but I believe the wig is an observation of tradition in that the hair is covered. The woman knows ,despite what others see.

So let me get this straight… You wear a lucious full wig for concern of “modesty”? You cover your natural hair with something on top that is literally hair? Ok.

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