Hats off to new device to keep kippah secure

Most people who see Jon Kaweblum’s invention invariably have the same reaction.

“I should have thought of that,” they say of the simple yet practical innovation Kaweblum hopes will make bobby pins and hair clips obsolete for Jewish males who wear kippot.

By sewing into a kippah essentially two miniature versions of the hard, plastic comb women use to attach their shaitels, or wigs, the Aventura, Fla. man created a yarmulke that doesn’t slip or slide — and may even withstand a Category 3 hurricane.

“I think this will change the way people wear kippot,” said Kaweblum, 26, who is finishing his architectural degree at Florida Atlantic University. In doing research before applying for a patent, Kaweblum said he was surprised no one had come up with the idea.

Kaweblum’s brainstorm was the result of a dilemma he faced as the athletic director and boys basketball coach at Weinbaum Yeshiva High, a Modern Orthodox school in Boca Raton, Fla. Over the last few years, Kaweblum has had to petition the Florida High School Athletic Association for his players to wear kippot during games. But before the season began last fall, the association ruled that metal clips and pins were dangerous attachments and unacceptable.

While trying to decide how to proceed, Kaweblum was looking at his wife’s shaitel and wondered, “How does she keep that on?”

Kaweblum modified the clip, sewed it into his own kippah and wore it for a week. When it passed the test, he made a few more for his players. When his players gave them the thumbs up, Kaweblum then sent a Klipped Kippah to the association, and the organization issued its stamp of approval.

“They work extremely well, even when I got a short haircut,” said Anosh Zaghi, an eleventh-grader and two-year starter at WYHS. “They don’t fall off. I wear it all the time now. Once it’s on, you don’t even realize it’s there.”

Although the season was already under way, Kaweblum sent a sample kippah and some information to every Jewish high school in the country. Ten schools, including schools in Los Angeles, Memphis, Chicago and New Jersey, have ordered Klipped Kippahs for their teams.

“We first saw a team wearing them in a basketball tournament in New York, and I thought it was a great idea and that we have to get some,” said Rabbi Yonatan Gersten, principal of Cooper Yeshiva in Memphis, Tenn.

“I wear one myself and the yarmulke works perfectly,” he continued. “It’s really been great for the students who previously had their yarmulkes in their hands more than on their heads. We had yarmulkes made with the school name and basketball logo and sold about 75 the first night.”

Klipped Kippahs, which cost $10 to $15 each, come in a variety of styles and colors and can be customized. He has one seamstress, and his mother is in charge of production.

In the first four months of business, with little marketing or publicity, Kaweblum sold 1,500 of his Klipped Kippahs. His Web site is expected to boost sales substantially. In April, he took his kippahs on the road for the first time.

“Everyone loved them,” he said. “We sold around 175 kippahs.”

So far his biggest fans are mothers with kids who seem to go through an endless supply of clips. “The market is there,” he said. “Once people try this, they’re never going to go back.”