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The Kippah Makes the Man

May 24, 2018 | by David Kilimnick

A list of some of the most popular kippahs, the styles, and what they mean.

Kippahs, also known as a yarmulkes and skullcaps, have been traditionally worn for men to make a statement that they are Jewish so anti-Semites can target them more easily. In Israel however, the kippah is a political statement of your beliefs and who you want to marry. Here is a list of some of the most popular kippahs, the styles, and what they mean:

Velvet Kippah

Big in the Chassidic and Yeshiva communities, you wear this and you are immediately accepted as a decent Jew who is serious about learning Torah.

Black is the color. The velvet yarmulke should not be turquoise or any kind of blue, unless you are a child. Trust me because I am speaking from experience here: you will never get a shidduch and find your true match if you are found wearing a red velvet yarmulke.

The Kippah Sruga – Knit Kippah

The knit kippah is a political statement meaning you are Zionistic. Another way to show you are Zionistic is to wear the Israeli army kippah. Remember, the kippah is more important than the action. No need to join the army itself. Wearing the kippah, you get the honor and respect that comes with serving in the army with none of the actual hard and or dangerous work.

The Soloveitchik

This Black Kippah is similar to the velvet, but without the velvet outside. Just the inside doubled up. Known as the Soloveitchik, this easy to breath velvet style is the summer go to option. Jewish men perspire three times more than the average man so with the Soloveitchik, you only perspire twice as much.

Knit Kippah that Was Knitted for You with Your Name on It

Big in the 1980s modern orthodox America scene, this kippah meant love. Anybody can purchase a regular knitted kippah. But getting your name knitted on the kippah and then to have Shira’s name on the inside; that was the greatest show of devotion any teenager could exhibit. That meant somebody cared about you enough to crochet and not listen during class.

Machine Knit

A modification on the above but machine made. This is what I wear on Shabbat to save $30. And what I always wore, because I never had a girlfriend growing up.

The Carlebach

This kippah says you have more hair than the average Jew. This kippah is crocheted like the knit kippah, but with thicker yarn. Three times the size of a knit kippah and half the weave, this Rasta man headwear is very popular with the hippie Jewish people who have never been to Jamaica.

The Bucharian

This is the original big kippah and yet it still pales in size to the Cohen’s headdress. Originating in Asia, these most colorful kippahs drew their uniqueness and design from their local imaginative culture, the same way the Ashkenazi Jews drew the black kippah from European culture which was mainly dreary and depressing.

Along with the Carlbeach, large knit and huge velvets, this kippah is tactfully used to cover baldness. If you notice, as Jews age the yarmulke becomes larger, even if they are not becoming more religious.

Felt With Sports Team

This means you went to some boy’s Bar Mitzvah over the past 6 years and he happened to like the New York Mets.


This says you are an American traditional Jew, have no opinion about Israel, went to Hebrew day school for 12 years and can’t speak a word of Hebrew.

Suede with Name & Date Inside

This means you attended a Bar Mitzvah or wedding in the 1980s. In the 1980s you would go for a weekend celebration and get a yarmulke so that you would have something, along with the Birkat Hamazon Blessing Book, you wouldn’t be able to find when the celebrants visited you.

I cherish these 1980s celebration stamped kippahs. When my friend Abby got Bar Mitzvahed, some people thought that was a girl’s name on the inside of my yarmulke. I felt loved.

Nowadays, you just receive a felt yarmulke with a random sports teams on it. There is no name. No date on the inside. And then they expect you to remember the exact day the boy went up to read the Torah, and quiz you about the generic yarmulke when they visit. How am I supposed to remember that Chaim from Nova Scotia who got Bar Mitzvahed 18 years ago’s favorite baseball team was the Miami Marlins?

Traditional Bar Mitzvah Yarmulke

Made from satin or silk, these make it easier to spot the non-religious relatives. When the sexton chooses who gets the honors, he looks around at the Bar Mitzvah guests and knows that these people with the satin kippah perched on the top of their gelled hair may not be the ideal candidates to chant the entire Haftorah.

The Paper Yarmulke

You showed up at the Kotel and weren’t prepared. Now everybody knows you are not a religious Jew.

The Satin Reflector

This means safety is important to you, or that you grew up in the 1940s. The safest of all kippahs, this shiny yarmulke should always be worn at night. Wearing the Satin Reflector during daylight hours is also a strong statement that you are married and not trying to look good.

Note: Never purchase the Satin Reflector. You can always find this kippah in the shul’s Kippah box, next to the reflector vests, for late night walking home in the winter.

White Satin

You are a thief. You stole this from an Israeli hotel. We know this because the name of the hotel is on the kippah.

The Black & White Yarmulke

I came across this design at a Jewish peace rally. Half is made of velvet and half is crocheted. This yarmulke has brought no peace between the different movements mainly because it is the ugliest kippah ever made and nobody wants to be seen wearing it. For a moment though, many Jews united in hatred of this kippah.

Yarmulke designs are endless. You can get the silk kippah if you have no style. Many wear a Fez when they want to make the political statement that they are pro-Morocco. I even purchased a camouflage design, but the green does not camouflage my baldness. For this reason, I now camouflage with the velvet. And the designs go on with the Hesder Yeshiva large knit, the bandana for sports, the hardened velvet cone style for people with weirdly shaped heads, and so on.

Whatever you decide, choose your kippah and political statement wisely. Pick out the right kippah so that all of your fellow Jews know what you really think about them.

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