I like to kid around on Twitter that I am Batman. Heck, half the time I even answer my phone at work "Batcave" and mean it! There's something mysterious and enticing about being undercover.
I "officially" went REALLY undercover the summer of 2009. I had been studying mitzvot and felt that I really wanted to cover my hair. I can't tell you the theological whys and wherefores of my reasoning, I can simply tell you that based on my own interpretation of the mitzvot, this one was one I wanted to do.
Now it may seem silly to randomly pick one of the hardest mitzvot for women to do as THE one I wanted to do. I don't even know why it was this one in particular.
For me, the mitzvot are the language of Hashem. They are how we connect to Hashem (thank you VERY much Rabbi Mahler for teaching me that so long ago!) and how Hashem, in turn, connects with us. The more we do...the greater our connection.
And so, in the summer of 2009, I started covering my hair. I had great role models - some I know in the community like my friend Wendy, and others I know from far away, like my friend Hadassah. But between the two of them, they patiently answered my questions and helped me get started.
I remember the first time I went to a class at the AJL with a bandanna on my head. A friend asked if I was making a political statement and I answered, quite truthfully, that no, I was making a religious one.
It wasn't easy at first. There's the feeling of everyone staring at you, particularly when you're the only Jew in the zip code and especially when, in your larger community, you're the only Jew covering your hair.
I had to fight at work to have the right to cover my hair as my employers questioned it. Fortunately I have the most awesome Rabbi who promptly sent me a lawyer's opinion and who also supported me in my choice. I remember sitting at Starbucks with him and my husband one evening having an "iced beverage of choice" and him remarking that he wouldn't be surprised to see me in a sheitel one day.
Well, most awesome Rabbi...that day has come and I am sitting here today in my sheitel at work.
It has been a long, strange journey for me. It's a mitzvah I feel I can keep and one I am delighted TO keep. It's not always easy...people stare and ask questions. If they're not familiar with traditional Jewish observance, they really just don't understand. Still, some Jews see it as a women's lib thing and feel it is archaic.
For me though, it is something G-d wants me to do and something I CAN do. Have there been times I thought about NOT covering? Absolutely! I even asked Rabbi A if I could stop and he responded that I could only stop if the reasons I had started to cover in the first place didn't apply anymore.
The thing is, well, they do. I want to reach out and connect with Hashem and allow Hashem to connect with me.
I have hats and caps, tiechels and scarves, falls and now a full sheitel. Maybe not the best but I am a beginner and even after a year of covering full time, it still takes time to get used to. To feel normal and ordinary and stop catching myself when I walk past a mirror wondering, "Who the heck is THAT?!"
I am blessed with a community that accepts me for me...quirky though I may be and I know that my choices for observance have led others to greater observance themselves and I am extremely proud to have that role and take it very seriously.
Now every morning, I get up and choose the headgear for the day. I can't imagine going anywhere now with my hair uncovered. It's just unthinkable.
It's not an easy path but who said that keeping the mitzvot would be? It's a struggle every single day when I walk into a store and am stared at or I have to explain to the wonderful lady at Starbucks why I cover my hair the way I do every day. I have always described my relationship with Hashem as that of a struggle and it continues to be even as we connect in this very intimate way.
But at least I know we're connecting and that, to me, is what is important.