Confession time: I grew up a Conservative Jew, and although I’m Orthodox now — or Hasidic, or Biala, or hairy, or whatever you want to call it — I have more than a passing tinge of nostalgia for old-school Conservative services. Those slow jams where we all tried to chant like Barbra Streisand. The barrister’s robes that the rabbi and cantor wear. The fact that there was a cantor in the first place.
But there’s one thing that totally outranks every Orthodox tradition there is, and that’s doilies.
Yesterday, just to the left of where you’re reading, I saw an ad for GlamDoily.com, and you know I had to follow it. It led me to an amazing — amazing — collection of classic and seasonal doilies. There’s even a mantilla collection.
Yes, I’m serious. Chalk it up to my Kim Novak fixation (she used to date a Jew — Sammy Davis, Jr.), or just call me old fashioned, but I think doilies are a sign of decor, sophistication, and elegance. Nothing says “proper” like “tea party,” and nothing says “tea party” like a die-cut paper coffee coaster straight out of spring 1956. Orthodox women cover their hair like pros — and the turban chique of Sephardic Israeli woman that Rav Ovadia Yosef advocates is stylin’ as anything, and gravity-defying, tying them meticulously tight, so as not to reveal a single strand — but I loved the feeling of having a yarmulke in my back pocket, slipping it on as I slipped into synagogue just like Clark Kent and the proverbial phone booth, and the move in Conservative Judaism toward people wearing yarmulkes either all the time or none of the time kind of dampens the transformation. I’m totally in favor of women wearing yarmulkes, if it helps put them in a holy or devotional mood….but nothing says “Quell those unholy thoughts, I’m in synagogue” like a straight-up doily.
Audrey Hepburn would wear a doily. Nora Charles would wear a doily. Madonna would wear a doily….although let’s not think very hard about how she would wear it, or where on her person it would go.