Reader Response, Vol. 7, Issue 5

Etiquetteer was gratified that several readers leapt to his defense after reading about Etiquetteer's experience wearing a yarmulke at a Jewish funeral while not actually Jewish himself: 


From a child of a mixed-faith household:  It is always proper and a sign of respect to wear a kippah (yarmulke) at a Jewish funeral home, or in Temple or at a Rabbi's home even if one isn't Jewish. My dad, who converted when he was 70, always wore a kippah in Temple when we would go for a funeral or a Bat Mitzva or Bar Mitzva or wedding. It is customary to offer one to every gentleman to wear so that they can cover their head out of respect. What was out of line wasn't that you were wearing one (which was very nice of you to do) it was the disrespect of the two drug users in question who were also in attendance. That really was shameful behavior!


From a Jewish lady:  My husband and I were distressed by at the ignorance and stupidity of people who questioned your right to wear a yamulke ( kippa in Hebrew). It is considered correct religious etiquette to cover your head during a Jewish religious event, be it a Sabbath service, wedding,funeral, or Brit Milah (circumsion ceremony). As someone who is not Jewish, you would not be expected nor permitted to wear a prayer shawl, a tallit during a worship service. So please do not let the rude remarks concerning your head covering prevent you from applying the kippa to your head again if you find yourself in a Jewish religious setting.


From a well-known on-line journaller, photographer, and actress who knows Randy Newman:  I respectfully disagree with something in your last column, about non-Jews wearing yarmulkes at Jewish ceremonies.  Just as one removes one's shoes in a mosque no matter what one's religion, and women used to cover their heads in Catholic churches no matter what their religion, if you are in a temple and you are a man, you wear a yarmulke.  Now, I notice that this was not in temple but in a Jewish funeral home, but I would imagine that the rule would still apply, proper respect requires the wearing of the yarmulke.  The laughers were, of course, morons.  


After such a brisk and chivalrous response, Etiquetteer did a little checking for "chapter and verse." Happily, a wonderful resource bore out the correct instructions of Etiquetteer's readers: How to Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People's Religious Ceremonies, edited by Arthur J. Magida. And indeed, the yarmulke is required of all men attending a Jewish service.