What is a Yarmulke? Types, Definition & Photos

Take a close look at the Yarmulke or the Kippah and learn all about its rich history, its deep spiritual representation for Jewish people, its many varieties and how to wear them.

This is a close look at a young Jewish child wearing a blue knit yarmulke hat.
  • Orthodox Jewish men wear a skullcap.
  • Also known as a Kippah.
  • Yarmulkes are worn at all times except when sleeping or bathing by orthodox Jews.

A  Yarmulke is a small hat worn mainly by Jewish men as part of their traditional Jewish clothing. A Jewish person’s denomination will determine how often they wear their yarmulkes.

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What is a Yarmulke?

A yarmulke or Kippah is a small brimless hat made from cloth, and Jewish men and boys traditionally wear it. Kippah means ‘dome,’ which looks like a small dome when sitting on one’s head. Orthodox Jews wear it all the time except when sleeping and bathing, whereas non-orthodox Jews only wear it when praying, entering the synagogue, or doing Jewish study.

Why is a Yarmulke worn?

 A Yarmulke is worn because it symbolizes giving reverence to God and devoting yourself to Him. Covering one’s head at all times is seen as a mystical significance; due to this, some Jewish men cover their heads twice by putting a hat over the Kippah. Wearing a yarmulke for Jewish people makes them feel like they are showing people who they are and that they are proud to be Jewish

In Orthodox communities, both men and boys wear a Kippah to encourage this habit at a young age. The Halachic authorities, which are the collective body of Jewish law, debate whether this hat needs to be worn at all times. The law states that it should be worn mainly during prayer as it is a sign of respect to God.

Women also wear a head covering, usually a scarf, although, in many non-orthodox communities, women also wear a yarmulke. Men and women of the reform community used to be against wearing the Kippah for many years, but it has become more common and acceptable to wear one while praying and studying Jewish text in recent years.

Types of Yarmulkes

This is a close look at various colorful yarmulke hats on display.

There are different types of Kippahs; they are different sizes, colors and are made from different materials. In the 19th century, rabbis wore a larger saucer-shaped cloth cap known as a scholar’s cap or Chinese skullcap. Other Jews during this period wore a black pill-box-shaped yarmulke.

As was said, different colors and materials Kippah were worn for different religious movements in Israel. The crocheted or knitted yarmulke called the kippot serugot and suede or leather kippot were worn by Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionists.

Haredi communities wear black velvet or cloth yarmulke. Many reform Jewish followers wear various Kippah, including the crocheted suede, satin, and Bukharan yarmulkes.

Below is a list of the different types of yarmulkes:

Crocheted or Knitted Yarmulkes

A collection of knitted yarmulkes in various patterns and colors.

This is a dome-shaped yarmulke that is crocheted; it comes in different colors and usually has a pattern.

Religious movement: Modern Orthodox, Religious Zionists, Conservative Jews, and Reform Jews.

Suede Yarmulkes

Sure kippah in various sizes isolated on a white background.

This is a dome-shaped yarmulke that is crocheted; it comes in different colors and usually has a pattern.

Religious movement: Conservative Jews, Modern Orthodox, and Reform Jews.

Black Velvet Yarmulkes

Black velvet yarmulkes in various sizes against a white background.

Black dome-shaped Kippah.

Religious movement: Haredi, Hasidic, and Yeshivish.

Polyester Yarmulkes

It is dome-shaped, traditional in style, and black in color.

Religious movement: Haredi, Hasidic, Yeshivish, and Lubavich Jews.

Satin Yarmulkes

These Kippah are commonly given at bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah parties with the event name and date.

Religious movement: Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Hilonim and Masortim Jews.

Bukharan Yarmulkes

Black Buchari Hand Embroidered Kippah Bucharian Yarmulke Jewish Yamaka by aJudaica - 22.8"
Click image for more info

This Kippah is not dome-shaped but rather has a flattened top with sides. It usually is fully embroidered with a colorful pattern. These caps are large and can cover the whole head. This cap is very easy to keep on one’s head due to the size.

Religious movement: Many Jewish children, Sephardi Jews, Reform Jews, and liberal learning Jewish communities.

White crocheted/Breslow Kippah

A Jew in a white crocheted Kippah and eyeglasses reading Torah.

A yarmulke crocheted with white wool, sometimes with a knitted pom pom or tassel on the top. Some have a saying embroidered in black on or in the cap. The Na Nach group will have the words’ Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman’ written on the bottom of the hat.

Religious movement: Jerusalemites and the Na Nach group under Breslov Hasidim Jews.

Yemenite Yarmulkes

Back profile of a Jewish man wearing Yemenite yarmulke walking down the street.

A stiff black velvet hat with a 0.4 to 0.8 inches embroidered multi-colored geometric, floral, or paisley pattern around the edge

Religious movement: Yemenite Jews.

Mesh Yarmulkes

This is great to wear while doing sports and in hot weather.

Religious movement: Modern Orthodox, Dati Leumi, and some Haredi Jews.

Linen Yarmulkes

A man wearing linen kippah places his hand and pray on the Wailing Wall.

This is a traditional style lightweight fabric kippah. It is great to wear when it is hot, and it is easy to wash.

Many Kippah in modern society come in different colors, have logos or the color of sports teams and cartoon characters. This has become popular specifically for children, although many religious Jewish communities do not agree with this.

Jewish schools have also banned kids from wearing these kippahs as they do not conform to Jewish traditional customs and values. Yarmulkes for women are made to look more feminine, and some are made with wire and beads.

How To Keep A Kippah On Your Head

This is a close look at a man wearing a blue button shirt with a matching blue yarmulke.

Most Jews who wear a kippah often will not struggle with keeping it on their head, and they know exactly where to put it and probably have the correct size. However, it is fine if you have trouble keeping it on, especially if you are active during the day or very windy.

In this case, you can keep your yarmulke on with a hair clip which is universally accepted but rejected by staunch Jews. In this case, you can keep it on double-sided fashion tape or one-sided Velcro. If this is something you can’t use, it is recommended to buy a bigger size as they tend to stay on easier than the smaller-sized kippahs.

Can You Dispose Of A Kippah?

If your yarmulke is getting old and you need a new one, you may be wondering if it is fine to just throw it in the bin. A kippah is not regarded as a holy object, and unlike your prayer book, this is because it is a reminder of God without holy significance. Due to this, it does not have to be thrown away in a special way, but instead, you can just get rid of it and replace it with a new one.

Related: All the different types of hats

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