At Rosh Hashana services last night and this morning, I was moved by many things: the ancient chants that run through the well-worn tracks of my memory, the affection between us in this community, the way so many of us rock lightly when we stand and pray, and of course, the hats some of the women wore. Thanks to my friend Sharyn, who carries herself with such grace and humor that I can’t help but fall in love with her each time we talk, I learned more about what a difference a hat makes.
For Jews, head coverings are old hat (so to speak), and in many Orthodox and some Conservative synagogues, widely visible at the High Holidays. Sharyn told me hats have that meaning for her, and also they connote a certain kind of making separate and special the occasion. But for her, wearing a hat such as any of these puts her head (literally) in a certain state of being, one that connects us with loved ones and friends in other countries where hats on the High Holidays reign communally.
To me, the hats are our own pre-Christian way of doing the Easter Parade. They herald a new season, a time of greater lightness and freedom, and obviously, a tad more style and substance at once. The hat says that it’s good and beautiful, fitting and sacred, light and free to be alive, so why not celebrate that life?