Kippah the Jewish Uniform

By Daniel Eric Minkow, 1st Lt USAF

Can a Jew wear a Kippah while in military uniform?

I came upon this very important question and its answer, this article, when USAF Capt Rebecca Minkow, my sister, posed the question to me. As the Jewish Lay leader for Travis Air Force Base, I felt it was important for me to find the answer to this question so I contacted the wing Chaplain, who forwarded me the DoD Directive Number 1300.17 (Accommodation of Religious Practices Within the Military Services) which includes guidance on the wear of religious headgear in uniform. The Directive is very brief (6 pages) and signed by the Deputy Secretary of Defense. I found the directive very empowering because of its strong support for a wide range of religious observances. I had originally felt that the military frowned upon certain types of religious observances that were outside the norm or standard. However, the directive starts out with the following statement.

3.1 A basic principle of our nation is the free exercise of religion. The Department of Defense places a high value on rights of member of the Armed Forces to observe the tenets of their respective religions. It is DoD policy that request for accommodation of religious practices should be approved by commanders when accommodation will not have adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, standards or discipline

From here you can see that the military actually encourages commanders to go out of their way to accommodate different religious obligations and practices. The Directive addresses worship services, holy days as well as the wear of other religious articles (including items like Tzitzit (talit katan)). For it states:

3.2.6. Religious items or articles not visible or otherwise apparent may be warn with the uniform, provided they shall not interfere with the performance of the members military duties.

I like to consider the talit katan (small four cornered garment with fringes worn underneath the shirt) as part of a Jewish Uniform namely as the all important Jewish spiritual Kevlar, protecting the wearer from a wide range of day to day hazards.

This is, of course all good news, but what does this directive say about wearing a Kippah while in uniform? The directive continues on to explain that any visible items of religious apparel while in uniform must be neat and conservative. So what does that mean?

Continued…

3.2.7.2. In the context of the wearing of a military uniform, neat and conservative items of religious apparel are those that :

3.2.7.2.1. Are discreet, tidy, and not dissonant or showy in style, size, design, brightness, or color.

3.2.7.2.2. Do not replace or interfere with the proper wearing of any authorized article of the uniform.

The directive even gives an example and says:

A Jewish yarmulke may be worn with the uniform whenever a military cap, hat, or other headgear is not prescribed. A yarmulke may also be worn underneath military headgear as long as it does not interfere with the proper wearing, functioning, or appearance of the prescribed head gear.

Exceptions to the wearing of a kippah in uniform are logical. It says that a kippah may not be worn when it interferes with safety health or interferes with the operation of equipment for example, gasmasks. Also, the final word is up to each military department however, any denials must be sent up to each services Headquarters. So they are saying that the military better have a very good reason when denying the wear of kippah.

The specific Air Force guidance is AFI36-2903 page 95 and states on Religious head coverings: Indoors: Installation Commander and chaplain may approve plain, dark blue, or black religious head coverings

Finally, the instruction describes the approval process and proper routing.

We now know that it is, in fact, possible to wear a kippah in uniform. This leaves us with a different dilemma. Why aren’t we?

I have to be upfront and say I currently do not wear Kippah in Uniform unless at a religious event. I am struggling with this idea which is why I chose to write about it. Maybe it has something to do with working up to my courage and kavanah (intention) or honestly, I might not be ready (yet). Because no matter how much I would want to down play it I would be making a huge statement. I would be making a very public statement about my personal identity and religious observance. However, when I see someone from a different culture or religion wearing a required or traditional dress, I do admire their courage and ability to disregard what others think. I, in turn, like to think that any statement I might make could also be interpreted with the same courage, pride, trust, observance, and affiliation.

Many people may feel that they are not ready or that they don’t want to stand out in the military, and I assure you that I share this concern. It is possible that it could draw unwanted attention. As noted on Aish.com, (the Kippah) is perhaps the most instantly identifiable mark of a Jew. In the Western world, it is customary to remove one’s head covering when meeting an important person. In Judaism, putting on a head covering is a sign of respect. I wouldn’t want people to first meet me and only see a kippah. I wouldn’t want to be known as that guy with the beanie, but instead someone with a strong sense and awe of God.

Wearing a kippah is an essential part of the Jewish Uniform, but to wear it while also in the uniform of the United States Military? Wearing of any uniform is an important part of understanding the ideology behind it. Wearing a uniform of the US armed forces says that you stand for the ideals of the constitution and gave an oath (something Jews don’t take lightly) to defend. The way I look at it is, the reason I wear my military uniform is ensuring our rights to practice being Jewish. I lace up my combat boots every morning so I can don my teffilin and I put on my BDU uniform so I can wear my kippah. There is a direct correlation between the “Jewish uniform” and the military uniform. In fact, it was the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Louis Brandeis, who said to be good Americans we must be better Jews. Along this line of thinking, wearing a kippah is a very American thing to do!

Maybe it leaves us asking ourselves, are we good enough Jews to represent our people in the military or in public? It is a great Mitzvah to be a Kiddush Hashem or to sanctify God’s name. We do this when we do good works that others notice and relate back to the Jewish people and their faith, and it can be noted that blessed be the God of the Jews. There are not many Jews in the military, even in the country. I have even met people who have told me I was the first Jew they have ever known! This is certainly a huge responsibility to be the representative of an entire people and culture as it related to the non-Jewish world. It is possible that someone I meet may base their entire opinion the Jewish faith and people, based solely on my actions.

So why do Jews wear a head covering to begin with? Well one of the only references in the Talmud about Kippah or head covering is hinted at in the blessing we say every morning, thanking God for “crowning Israel with splendor” (Talmud – Brachot 60b). Also, the Talmud says that the purpose of wearing a kippah is to remind us of God, who is the Higher Authority “above us” (Kiddushin 31a). External actions create internal awareness; wearing a symbolic, tangible “something above us” reinforces that idea that God is always watching. The kippah is a means to draw out one’s inner sense of respect for God. (Aish.com)

In conclusion, I have come to believe that the Kippah, along with the talit katan, are part of the Jewish Uniform that should be worn proudly and honorably just like the uniform of the armed forces. I’m not saying that everyone must wear kippah, but at least maybe struggle with the idea of wearing it. This quandary forces us to ask ourselves, who are we really? What is our identity as Americans, soldiers, and Jews? In the mean time it might be best to strive to be a good person follow and do other mitzvot first and then consider wearing a kippah. I may not have come to a solution in my struggle of whether to kippah or not to kippah, but maybe you can help or maybe I have helped you?

For further information, I highly recommend the articles about Kippah on Aish.com, referenced below.

References:

56 comments

  • The camouflage yarmulkes that we supply the DoD (via their website http://www.chaplainscorner.com) are made out of ‘real’ US military fabric, no cheap imitations!!

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    Dee

  • I’m not a lawyer. How do the Air Force regs square with the Supreme Court decision in Goldman v. Weinberger (1986)?

    (http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/court/gold_v_wein.html)

    Facts of the Case:

    Goldman was an officer in the U.S. Air Force and served as a clinical psychologist at a base’s mental health clinic. He was an Orthodox Jew and ordained rabbi. Military regulations prohibited him from wearing his yarmulke indoors because headgear could not be worn inside “except by armed security police in the performance of their duties.” While outdoors, Goldman wore his yarmulke underneath his service cap, but was warned that he would face disciplinary action if he was caught wearing his yarmulke inside.

    Decision:

    The Supreme Court upheld the military provision by a 5-4 vote.

    Majority Opinion: (Justice Rehnquist)

    The Court asserts that deference should be given to the professional judgment of military authorities. These officials are not constitutionally required to abandon their professional judgment. The military is a “specialized society separate from civilian society” and “to accomplish its mission the military must foster instinctive obedience, unity, commitment, and esprit de corps.” Rather than give priority to their own beliefs, individuals in the military are to subordinate their own desires to the needs of the service. One of the ways the military creates this cohesiveness is by requiring servicemen to maintain uniform visibility. The First Amendment does not require the military to accommodate all religious views, nor does it preclude the uniform regulation.

    Significance:

    The objectives of the military allow it to restrict the religious rights of individuals in the interest of cohesiveness. The Court did not endeavor to assess the military’s claims concerning the importance of regulating the appearance of its members. The military is left to make the final decision of whether such regulations are necessary.

  • I happen to be a woman in the military and made a personal committment to wear a small, black Kippah with my uniform on a daily basis. I am also a daily wearer outstide of my uniform. I do this for several reasons. One of the most significant is that while serving as the Lay Leader for basic trainees for nearly three years, I have come to realize that many young Jewish men and women have a tendency to hide their “Jewishness” out of fear of being “singled out,” “ridiculed,” etc. Also, some have expressed a similar concern as LT Minkow: not ready to serve as a representative of the Jewish nation or people. My desire is to express my reverence for Hashem and to express my Jewish pride openly. This has never caused any undue attention that I could not handle. I am often asked to clarify or express my opinion with regard to Torah, Moshiach, Mitvot, etc. I welcome these interactions. As a matter of fact, the small PX located in our hospital has come to be known as my “little Synagogue” as this is usually where the discussions take place. People have come to know that I welcome these discussions and have become very comfortable in approaching me. I have also had fellow employees ask me where my Kippah was when they could not readily see it on top of my head when I wore it a little further back on my crown. Of course, they were relieved to discover I had it on. One of my colleagues (a devout Catholic) commented that he was very appreciative of the “aire of utmost respect for G-d” that I brought to the hospital environment. Others have said that they love that I not only study Torah, bring it to life daily. The trainees have come to know and see that I wear my Kippah both in and out of uniform and I can see their Jewish pride blossoming in the content of their conversations about how they freely answer questions about Jewish faith and tradition of fellow trainees when back in their quarters. Many also ask me for a copy of DODD 1300.17 so they can request permission for wear upon arriving at their duty stations. This is the whole point of being “lights and priests unto the nations of the world.” To attract attention because of our difference and to engage the world in D’var Torah because of it. My fellow military men and women…don’t be afraid to express your uniqueness. Be proud of your military service as a Jew and instill pride and understanding in others around you — Barrrrrchuah!.

  • The article says that tzitzis are allowed and that they are part of the Jewish uniform. As an orthodox jew i completely agree but I wanted to share the following tidbit:

    My friend served in the Israeli Army in the Hesder unit (religious unit). The Iraeli army makes tzitzis with a green beged so it will comflouge but while in the army my religious friend didn’t wear his tzitzis out on a mission becuase if he was trying to camoflouge and in moving around on of his tzitzin (strings) fell out it could have made him easily visible to the enemy.

    The point of mitzvos is to live by them, not to die by them.

    Not that you shouldn’t wear tzitzis but they aren’t necissary in battle if they could get you killed.

  • We have, upon the request of a Jewish soldier, converted his brown army t-shirt into a tzitzit and added fringes. He was in a very hot area and didn’t want to wear an additional layer of clothing. By opening up the side seams, we had a 4 cornered article of clothing and put titzit on the corners.

    Although t-shirt fabric tzitzit is available, at this time it’s only in white. If anyone feels that a camouflage fabric t-shirt tzitzit would be a good item, we would look into it.

    Let me know,

    Dee

    Jewish Ecclisiastical Prime Vendor for the DoD

  • 2Lt Joe Friedman

    This has been an internal controversy for me, too.

    I read the AFI a few months ago out of curiousity and was surprised to see that wearing a kippah in uniform is authorized. I wear a kippah at home, but now I don’t have an easy excuse not to wear it at work. My wife brings it up occasionally, but like Lt Minkow, I just don’t feel ready.

    I’m glad I’m not the only Jewish serviceperson wrestling with the idea.

  • When I was active duty in 1994-1999, I made the move from Reform to observant Judaism. The problem was, even knowing the regs at the time permitted wearing a yarmulke, the constant “what’s that on your head, soldier?” proved to be quite aggravating. I also didn’t shape and shave my beret with my yarmulke on, so I’d have an unsightly bulge, not so bad with the black beret now, but bad with the maroon beret. On the other hand, the right yarmulke, particularly a black or navy suede or velvet one, makes a nice cushion for the kevlar helmet. Regretfully, I opted to save it for ritual use. That, and I always thought the camoflauge yarmulke offered was kind of dorky and slightly pointy, sort of like bulk for a bar mitzvah or wedding held at a hunting camp. No way to demonstrate commitment and solidarity with klal yisrael in uniform. I’m of course kidding. The WWII vets at shul rightly point out that they weren’t allowed yarmulkes, let alone camoflauge ones.

    11 years later and a PA Guardsman (and a leg) instead of a paratrooper, and no longer a neophyte with regards to the miztvos, I have the confidence to wear a yarmulke without apology. I always hope that more Jews in the service do, regardless of observance levels, if for no other reason for ease of making a minyan.

    What does concern me more is that the rules seem a little vague for the wear of a tallit katan. While wearing a yarmulke is not a mitzvah, wearing tzitzit is, and I’m not clear on whether it’s permissable or not. Clearly, the fringes spilling out from under BDUs would be a no-go, in garrison or in the field, but since in many Diaspora communities, the LOR allows for them to be tucked in, could one do it?

    Now, if only Shabbos candles didn’t violate light discipline…

  • Chaplain Mordechai Schwab

    B”H

    Actually, you can now get green, t-shirt fabric tzitzis by Neatzit. But, a camouflage, t-shirt fabric tallis koton would be a great item to add to DLA.

    Regarding wearing tzitzis in uniform, you can definitely wear them. I do every day! You’re correct however, the tzitzis can’t be protruding, at least not in the Army. The Uniform Reg in the Army says religious articles of clothing must be “subdued”. If one insists on wearing the tzitzis hanging outside, in the BDU uniform all you have to do is don’t let them hang too long since you are wearing the blouse. Alternatively, you could wrap them around your belt as I’ve seen some civilians do.

  • Rabbi Mordechai Y. Scher

    You’ve all got me curious…

    Are people wearing a talit katan with tzitzit under flight suits? What do you do about your tzitzit hanging down inside the legs of the suit?

    Just asking…would like to hear some input. (Chaplain Schwab? Anyone?)

    May G-d keep you all safe, and bless you with success in your service.

    (Rabbi) Mordechai Y. Scher

    Combat Medic 09 (IDF), NREMT-P, MICP, PNICP

    Flight Paramedic-Med Flight Air Ambulance, ABQ, NM

    Training Officer/Paramedic-PVAS, Pecos, NM

    Atalaya Search and Rescue, Santa Fe, NM

    Mountain Canine Corps SAR, Los Alamos, NM

  • Mordechai Schwab

    B”H

    I’m not sure what the problem is with the tzitzis hanging down inside one’s legs. That’s how I wear mine in uniform. Sepharadi Jews wear their tzitzis tucked in as well. Is there a reason why that is a problem with the flight suit specifically?

  • Well, I believe the problem is one of ‘preference’ rather than halacha; though that preference may be very important to some.

    When I was a young IDF soldier, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu told me to be very careful about the proper respect for tzitzit. This included trying to keep them out of one’s crotch, and off the thigh if possible. It wasn’t a problem most of the time, as even tucked in, the waistband and belt of my pants *mostly* kept them around my waist area. We didn’t wear flight suits or tanker’s nomex much outside of training, because on operations we were out of vehicles nearly the whole time.

    In any case, when my tzitzit did fall down a pants leg I found it very annoying. That alone is a reason for my question. I suppose I could just ask my chevruta/study partner, Rabbi York in Silver Spring. He lived in tanks his entire IDF service. Now that I’m in a flight suit for 24 hours at a time, I’m finding this annoying/inconvenient, hence the question.

    I *do not* mean to imply that anyone needs to take this as a matter of halacha, or an issue that they need be concerned with. But I imagine someone has the same sense of annoyance (word?) as me, and maybe has a good solution. :-)

    Blessings to you all! May Hashem keep you and your comrades safe, and grant you success in your missions.

    mordechai

  • Re: MZ’s comment about not wearing tzitzit out on a mission.

    On operations, I never wore them out. Didn’t really think about the camouflage issue; but if they dragged in the dirt it wasn’t respectful, and if they hung up on something (very likely) it could slow me down and endanger me.

    Similarly, I don’t wear them out now on SAR missions; they’re too likely to get caught on something. Also, the cotton or wool beged I use absorbs way too much persperation, so on winter missions I may not wear them at all.

    As stated, the sages taught us that mitzvot are to live by, not to die by…

    May Hashem bless you all!

  • As the Jewish Prime Vendor, I am really interested in this discussion. We will have met with the Chief Chaplain in June of 2005 and he was very receptive to Jewish issues and needs. We will probably be adding some more Yarmulke (with the new ACU fabric and the digital camouflage fabric).

    Tzitzit and the like can be requested to be added to the list of Jewish items available. Try contacting your Chaplain or Supply personnel and ask for them. If there is any way to contact the DSCP to put in a request, then do it. The more requests and questions about a product, the more quickly they will look into the situation and they might add the product to be available any Jewish soldier interested in them. (Portable Sukkot recieved lots of questions/requests and is now a part of Jewish religious supplies)

    Addresses of the Jewish Ecclisiastical Dept at the DSCP is:

    DSCP

    Maryann Bonk

    700 Robbins Avenue

    Bldg 6-D

    Philadelphia, PA 19111

    Dee

  • PS. I think that your voice would be the ‘loudest’ and best recieved by contacting DSCP, however, I don’t know Military procedures and chain of command/supply, so if this is detrimental, don’t do it.

    Dee

  • Chaplain Mordechai Schwab

    B”H

    Dee,

    I went to the Chaplains Corner at DSCP but did not find a portable sukkah. Where do I find this?

  • Lt Joe Friedman

    Chaplain Schwab,

    I went to http://www.esroghq.com and ordered my sukkah and lulav & etrog through there. They have tons of sukkot, including portable ones.

  • You can technically order it anywhere, but the best is via the supply system from the military. All prices include shipping (which can be costly being that it’s an oversized package.)

    Portable Sukkah & Schach: 40″ x 40″ x 6.56’H

    NSN 9925-01-532-0686

    Portable Sukkah & Schach: 7.2’W x 7.2’L x 6.56′ H”:

    NSN 9925-01-532-0686

    Contact Maryann Bonk at the DSCP:

    DSN: 444-3192

    Tel: 215-737-3192

    Email: maryann.bonk@dla.mil

  • I went to the website that Lt. Freidman suggested, but didn’t find the module we carry, and the sizes we offer.

    We also offer Four Species:

    NSN: 9925-01-448-9309

    Dee

  • Sukkah was just added to: WARFIGHTER

    http://www.warfighter.dla.mil

    Dee

  • I’m an A1C in the US Air Force and recently applied for and got what the DOD calls a “Religious Apparel Waiver”. When I first applied practically no one, except for the Wing Chaplain, had any idea what I was talking about. Now I’m the only person on base who wears a kippah. Yes it does draw attention to you, but the only attention I’ve recieved for the most part is questions like “Are you jewish?” or the most popular question “How does it stay on?” heh! The greatest thing about wearing it though is there have been a few opportunities to explain to some curious people about Torah and the jewish people. I never lacked the courage to wear a kippah in uniform. Just be proud and have faith and everything else will be fine. The next thing I’m trying to do is wear tzitzit in uniform. I think I’ll look into some camouflage ones.

  • OK…In so far as Kippah wear is concerned…Army is represented by this woman and Air Force by the A1C. Here’s a personal challenge from me to all services: Dawn your kippot! I’d love to see more people in uniform represent! For those of you who refuse to/can’t engage in daily wear, watch this website as well as http://www.thejewishsoldier.com for an upcoming “Dawn Your Kippah Day.” That would be awesome!

  • LTC Seidman (currently 2nd Brigade chaplain for 28th Infantry Division) and myself are consistently in our kippot, keeping it real for the PA National Guard. Interestingly, a lot of my fellow soldiers live or work near Empire Kosher’s central Pennsylvania facility, so they’re familiar at least by visual recognition with our religious affectations.

    For the A1C, I’ve found no difficulty with wearing a tallit katan with either my ACUs or my dress uniform. I believe there are piskei that allow you to keep the tzitzit tucked in your duty or dress uniform. Consult your rabbi, right? As a grunt, I’d find it marvelous if a moisture-wicking tallit katan were available, sort of like spiritual Underarmor, if you will.

  • For those that are interested in authentic camouflage kippot to match your uniform and can’t get it through the DLA–we are the manufacturers and you can buy them directly through us (albeit for a higher price). We also make a Kosher camouflage Tallit and matching Tallit/Tefillin Bags.

    We currently have: ACU, ABU Air Force, Marine Digital in Desert and Woodland and BDU Camouflage in Desert and Woodland

    You can see these items here:http://judaicatreasures.stores.yahoo.net/cata.html

    If I can be of help to anyone seeking these and other Jewish items, send me an email.

    Dee

    Jewish Prime Vendor

  • I wonder about the regulations regarding the kippot in law enforcement. I have seen NYPD officers wearing them in uniform. I was considering wearing mine in my police uniform.

  • Any news or guidelines on married Orthodox women wearing headcovering in the service?

  • Shana,

    I’ve not met or seen one Orthodox woman wearing her “headcover” in uniform. As a matter of fact, I don’t know of any Orthodox woman who is in uniform! I’d be curious to know if there are any outside of Israel! I believe, too, that the traditional “headcovering” of the Orthodox female would be in violation of the current DOD guidelines for a small, unobtrusive head cover that does not interfere with either a combat helmet or gas mask. That is the basic criteria. Given that, it could be difficult to justify a “snood” or scarf. I don’t know that the uniformed services would allow shaving of the female head either, if that is also requested. Great question! You’ve given us lots to think about. In the meantime, pull out a camo kippah and join the rest of us in proudly bearing our Jewish souls!

  • One more small peice of info on why we wear a kippah. This comes from outside of the Talmud. In Shulchan Aruch at the end of the second siman, it states that a Jew should not walk four Amos ( Cubits ) with a bare head.

  • Rabat Nachum Roth

    Sorry but I am not exactly sure how to translate my rank, something like Cpl. I wanted to say that I totally understand your feelings. I am lucky enough to say that out of the 130 guys in my unit, 130 are Jewish. I look around me everyday at an entire base full of our kin and sometimes I want to weep. I am a combat soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces. I look around and see lots of people not wearing kippot, or tzitzit. I asked a few and some feel it enough just to be fighting and others just are not ready. I myself only wear it when praying. Why? I looked up the law and saw that it is only Chassidut to wear a kippa. Sha’arei Tschuvah, Gemorrah Shabbat as well as a few other sources state that one must only cover his head when davening to HaKodesh Borachoo.

    Everyone has their own struggles in life though and just the fact that you see one of yours makes you blessed to be able to fight it when you can. We have been beaten endlessly since the day we accepted Torah from Sinai. It is even said that at that exact time was when anti-semitism was brought about. I also talked to some Rabbi’s here in Israel who agree with me that the harder something is the more merit one recieves from doing it. If wearing the kippa is hard for you as it is for MANY others in both our armies, the greated reward they shall recieve for wearing it every minute.

    Take your time though man, and just remember, you got a nation here behind you.

    And to comment on what it states in the Shulchan Aruch, I checked with Rabbi Shlomo Ben Zev who did point that out but also pointed out other sources, its a Makloket (arguement).

    feel free to email, i dont get regular internet use, but email from phone is easy enough. Nachum_Roth@hotmail.com

    My best to you all,

    Rabat Nachum Roth

  • Josh @ JewishTactical.com

    I sell some Jewish items out of Israel that I’d be interested in getting out to Jewish clergymen and lay leaders in the US military.

    Is it that hard to become a DOD vendor? I have US citizenship.

    The items include:

    1. Kosher field cutlery

    2. Collapsible kiddush cups (stainless)

    3. Collapsible drinking cups (plastics) with brachot on the outside.

    The items can be found at http://www.JewishTactical.com

  • SSG Ziva Kayla David

    B”H,

    I am a Military Police Officer currently deployed to Mosul, Iraq. I am a female who wears a snood daily at home, (Hawaii) at The Mosul Chapel and in my CHU at night. I had a long conversation with a Rabbi who passed through and he told me that there is a religious Accommodation Memo that can be issued and approved by the unit commander for female soldiers to wear snoods, as long as they dont interfere with our duties, i.e. get stuck in machinery. I currently wear kippots in uniform, ACU, Blue and Black. My concern is that we are to not cross dress; is female with a kippot. I already feel that when I wear the unisex ACU’S I am borderline. I also wear my skirt with my Dress Greens. When I have a chance to dress as a female I do. So for all of the Jewish Service Members world wide, don’t feel the need to hide! G-D will give you the strength. Walk in my boots for a min, a female, in a MP unit, in Iraq,,,,,wearing a kippot everyday. It is wonderful!

    feel free to contact me at

    Ziva.david@us.army.mil and I can keep you updated when the Rabbi (CH) sends me the info.

    L’Shana Tova

    Ziva

  • Hello, I’m a medic working on a base in Iraq. I would like to have a cammo Kippah for Friday night service. Can you tell me where to find one?

    Thanks,

    Jeff

  • Gershom Alfassi

    If you talk to your chaplain he should be able to order one. There is an NSN for it. Also black yarmulkes work in uniform as well.

  • Brandon Payne

    what about basic training? I should show up with a copy of DODD 1300.17, the camoshirt tzitit and a black kippah? I should contact the base commander or my recruiter first?

  • Brandon,

    I’d be more worried about being able to eat during basic training than about tzitzit. Be sure to bring your own supply of food, things that can fit in your pockets or that you can eat in the barracks, whatever later. I had contacted the chaplain over a month before arriving and he promised kosher mres to eat only to arrive and have no one know anything about their whereabouts (including him). Seriously, make sure your basic need of food is at least partially covered in whatever pack you bring.

  • Thank you.

    I was wrestling around with the idea about wearing my kippah. I am currently in Iraq, but not on patrol. I’ve had very intersting (both positive and negative) reactions to my kippah. I have worn the ACU pattern they have out, however it was so poorly constructed (it kept falling apart), I went back to my knit kippah.

    If anyone tries to give you any guf (it’s happened to me) about making yourself a “target” remind them that your in a uniform (not to mention this person was an officer), and that we are all targets.

    Thank you again, the post was well written and informative.

  • PVT hutchison

    i’ve only been in the army for 9 months and im in AIT at fort gordon georgia, i’ve been searching for an ACU print kippot and cannot find one. if you have any suggestions please post back.

  • Send me your info and I can mail you one.

    ziva.david@us.army.mil

  • Aryeh Ohayon

    I started wearing a kippa in uniform almost ten years ago. I learned about how to make tzit-tzit for a talit katan out of the army brown t-shit, and had the material sewn onto the corner of the t-shirt, and tied them myself. I wore them tucked in as I’m Sephardi/Mizrachi, so that wasn’t an issue (Just don’t go “commando”) The guys I served with in Afghanistan thought it was a smart idea to stay cool in the heat. With the internet being so prolific there should be some videos or articles on how to tie them yourself, or one might can find a rabbi (Chabad perhaps?) that could tie them for you. Having said that, knowing that the material of the sand colored shirt is a mixture of cotton and nylon, I’m not sure if we can make tzit-tzit like we could with the brown undershirts. Anyone know where to get the sand t’s in 100% cotton? Thanks for your time.

  • If a uniform will express your inner belief, I think, there is nothing wrong wearing it…

  • So where can I find an ACU kippa? Please, link a site or phone number…thx, Shannah Tovah

  • Aryeh Ohayon

    The Jewish Welfare Board has kippot in ACU, and they should be available. You should also be able to get them either through the base rabbi (if there is one available), or the Jewish Lay Leader. If not, please let me know, and I will get you some.

    Aryeh Ohayon.

    P.S.

    If you know of anyone at Ft. Bragg/Pope AFB, have them contact me, through here if they can. After the chaggim, I am going to start, or want to start, having a study/prayer/discussion get together at my house on yom rishon. Light snacks and drinks provided.

  • According to at least one rabbi in the AF I have spoken to, I have been told that ‘Plain, dark blue, or black” means that any camo matching, or uniform matching that is not dark blue or black is forbidden in AF uniform.

  • That question about the camo Kippah has come up before. The Camo Kippah that I have, I received from an army Chapel. While the regulation may not have changed it should be hard to argue the point if it was issued to you.

    I have a regulation Kippah (Knitted dark blue) and a camo one I received from Ft. Dix NJ, that I wear on a day to day basis.

  • Hi does anyone know if the coast guard has kosher food in there basic training base in cape may nj. im thinking of joining the coast guard and im wondering how observent I can be. as well as can I wear a kippah in the coast guard.

  • Aryeh Ohayon

    Ben,

    In times of war, such as we are in now, the Coast Guard falls under the Dep’t of the Navy. So, in answer to your question, they should have kosher meals (My Own Meals) available. If they do not have them give the Jewish Welfare board a call and ask if they can track some down for you. The company that makes them keeps track of where most of them are shipped too.

    You should be able to wear a kippah as well as tzit-tzit. However, I am not as well versed in the Coastie/Navy Regulations as I am with the Army’s. Ask the recruiter and a chaplain. They should be able to help you.

    Good luck,

    Aryeh

  • As far as Navy reg’s go, the kippah is fine (see Paragraph 10 of SECNAVINST 1730.8B at http://doni.daps.dla.mil/Directives/01000%20Military%20Personnel%20Support/01-700%20Morale,%20Community%20and%20Religious%20Services/1730.8B.pdf). Just route a special request chit up to the CO, but there is no basis for them to disapprove it provided it is “neat and conservative” which is generally interpreted to be plan black. As long as they are not visible, tzitzit are also fine, but you will never be able to get away with wearing them outside your uniform.

  • any other coasties out there know about if it is allowed to bring teffilin with you to basic so whenever there would in theory be like 5 minutes of downtime at least to quick put it on some time of the day. and are electric razors allowed as well.

    i’m deploying to basic soon !!!!!

  • Yes tefillin and electric razors are allowed. Make sure to call your chaplain well in advance to coordinate food (and bring some as backup for survival in the fairly likely chance the kosher meals aren’t there!)

  • Julie Goldman

    A woman in a kippa is an embarrassment to many of us. It appears a stagnatation of femininism. In any event, it should NOT be allowed in uniform because, like a beard, it is not halachally required, an observant man can shave his beard (with an electric shaver), and a woman is not required to have her head covered, if she’s married her head covering would not be a kippa as described.

  • Gershom Alfassi

    In regards to the beard…

    Not everybody holds that you can shave the beard. I think the halachah as it stands now it that the blade can not touch the skin. There are those who do hold however that you can trim the beard, but not shave it. How ever when it comes to covering the head ( in regards to men ) the Shulchan Aruch says that a man should not walk more than six amos with his head revealed. The mishneh berurah says that a person sitting down should have his head covered.

  • Hi all,

    I have been looking for a US Navy digital blue kippah made from the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) material.

    Does anyone know where I can get one?

    L’Shannah Tov

    Marc

  • Aryeh Ohayon

    Marc,

    Try contacting the Jewish Welfare Board or the Aleph Institute. They should be able to help you out.

    Good luck!

    Aryeh

  • Jeffrey Hilowitz

    I am currently working as a GS emloyee as an optometrist for the Army. I am an orthodox Jew and wanted to know if I could join the Air National Guard. Would I be allowed to see patients and train on Sabbath for my one weekend a month obligation. Do you know the halachic ruling on this.

  • They could make you see patients on shabbat, although it’s unlikely as an optometrist. I would seriously think twice about signing up Jeff. You would really have to think about whether it’s worth the money for the risk and personal sacrifices you’d have to make especially as a religious Jew in this very non Jewish military.

    For military training, they will train you on weekends irregardless of your Jewish beliefs. From the poskim I’ve gotten this is not permissible in this country unless it’s somehow related to saving a life. For medical personnel, this is easier to bridge….My roommate in training helped me make it through without breaking shabbat but since then it has been impossible to observe the chagim, shabbat, etc. without training obligations.

  • Joseph C Sostre

    I am current deploy and I try to my supply to obtain a yarmulkes to wear during not in mission, but IAW the supply system take time to get it in country. I need assistance please email me for my mailing address.

    Ed: Adress removed for OPSEC