Will you uncover your hair?” they ask when they hear I’m divorcing. I am taken aback each time; it’s such a private matter. The morning after my wedding, I tied on a scarf and walked to synagogue. My mother didn’t do it, nor did hers, but my father’s mother, who lived next door when I was growing up, covered her hair for eighty years, from marriage to grave.
In Jewish law, it is forbidden for a man to look at a married woman’s hair, unless he is her father, grandfather, son, grandson, or husband. But the kabbalistic tradition is that even the walls of a woman’s house should not see her hair. I am not so strict; at home I am bareheaded.
When I learned the law of head-covering at a Jerusalem seminary for women, I was horrified that I would have to bind up my head upon marriage; all clothing was a concession, and I conceded as little as permissible.