‘Wig’, worn by married women to avoid the offence of going about with uncovered head. It was considered immodest for Jewish married women to go out into a public place with the head bare (see BARE HEAD). The usual practice was to have a head-covering, often richly embroidered. But when, in the eighteenth century, wigs came into fashion, many Jewesses preferred to wear a sheitel as a head-covering, despite the opposition of some Rabbis who claimed that the sheitel gives the appearance that the head is uncovered and hence defeats the whole purpose of the law. Some exceedingly pious women still prefer a proper headcovering but the majority of Orthodox women do wear the sheitel. Reform and Conservative Jews and even some Orthodox Jews do not consider the wearing of a head-covering to be necessary nowadays since women today do not insist on having their heads covered, so that failure to do so is no longer any indication of immodesty.
Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.