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A Yarmulke: Choosing How to Identify Yourself

  1. Hand out copies of Document Study #2 to your students.
  2. Have your students take turns reading one paragraph at a time out loud. After each paragraph, stop the students and discuss the following questions with your class.
    • Paragraph One:
      • According to his sermon, why did Rabbi Braude wear a yarmulke between Selma and Montgomery?
      • Why do you think Rabbi Braude was reluctant to wear a yarmulke?
      • Why do you think the rabbis got such a positive response from fellow marchers?
      • How do you think this made the rabbis feel? Do you think this might have influenced the way the rabbis felt about wearing their yarmulkes?
    • Paragraph Two:
      • How does the purpose or symbolism of the yarmulke change as a result of rabbis wearing them during the marches between Selma and Montgomery?
      • What is its new positive name and symbol?
      • What is its new negative name and symbol?
      • How is it possible for one object to have so many different associations attached to it? Can you think of other items connected to identity that may be viewed differently by different groups?
    • Paragraph Three:
      • Consider the parallel drawn between the yarmulke and the clerical collar.
        Is this yet a different symbolism for the yarmulke than in the previous paragraph? Why or why not?
    • Paragraph Four – Six:
      • Review: When is a yarmulke traditionally worn? By whom?
      • Why did Rabbi Davis go to Alabama?
      • Have the yarmulkes worn by Rabbi Davis and Rabbi Braude really changed function? Why or why not?
      • Do you think the rabbis changed how they felt about the yarmulke as a result of their experience in Alabama? If so, how?
  3. Explain that sometimes, like the rabbis in this sermon, our comfort with expressing our identity through certain symbols can change.
  4. Have your students write a journal entry based on the questions:
    • Have you ever had an experience where you were uncomfortable wearing/doing something that identified you as part of a certain group?
    • Did your feeling about this change? If so, why? If not, what do you think could cause you to feel more comfortable with it?
  5. If there's time, have a few students share what they've written. Otherwise, the students can hand in their journals, and you can write some responses to what they've written and hand the journals back during the next class.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "A Yarmulke: Choosing How to Identify Yourself." (Viewed on July 29, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11736>.

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