Cashier Denied Employment in Haredi Supermarket Because of Wig

assortment of long wigsA few days ago the haredi internet forum Behadrei Haredim reported on a Chabad woman who lost her job as a cashier in a haredi supermarket, because she wore a wig instead of a scarf or snood.

As I’ve mentioned several times, the “hyper-tzniut” movement discourages wigs. Women are frequently approached in the street, or even at their doors, and told that their wig is delaying the Messiah. Blogger Risa’s husband was given a lecture on the topic when Risa wasn’t even wearing  a wig.

Radio host Menachem Toker called the supermarket, Chesed Le-Alafim, and spoke with the manager. The manager claims that the cashier had never been formally hired so she wasn’t technically fired. (However, it seems she was working as a cashier when the manager first noticed her long wig.) He told her she could no longer work there. Toker asks if the woman was given the option of covering her hair in a different way, and the manager doesn’t reply. It’s not clear whether the wig would have been okay had it been a different style.

My daughter, who was listening to the interview, said that Toker was too aggressive and didn’t give the manager a chance to talk. Toker may have been aggressive, but the manager didn’t have much to say except that he respects everyone.

Toker claimed that non-religious women work in many haredi chains, which is true but they do have to dress appropriately.  The manager replied that his store serves a completely haredi population. Considering its location in Beitar Illit, this is probably true, although wigs are quite common there.

Listen to the Toker interview



She Burned Her Wig in Front of Everyone

I Don’t Enter a Store if Men Are Inside

Interview with a Former Kannai: The Community

Bloggers on Tzniut/Modesty/Jewish Women’s Dress

Photo credit via flickr: JoelK75


  1. The anti-wig thing is not a new “hyper-tzniut” idea. I did post on the issue a while back. While it is not a reason necessarily to fire a person without warning, I understand the objection.

  2. I really think that a Chabad woman can get a better job than a supermarket cashiers, severely underpaid, and even in Beitar Ilit where they can treat cashiers better, still she can do better than that. Great Post Chana (I read with my wife, that became also your reader )

    • Taking away someone’s livelihood is a very serious thing. No matter what you think of the job. Sometimes its nice to be able to eat until that wonderful job that you should be able to get comes along. Don’t make small of that.

  3. I don’t think it’s valid to debate whether the wigs cut or the wig itself was problematic to the management. If either was made obvious to this woman she wouldn’t have began working there or would have modified her hair cover. All of the details kind of ring irrelevant at this point.

    BUT, I am getting a concerned about the “Hyper-Tzniut” movement in that I think it is progressively taking away the power of women to act on their own behalf. This really goes way beyond whether or not you or anyone else agree with wigs/scarf/snood/hats.

    I’m concerned about the backlash for young girls who will grow to see modest dress as a punishment for being female and a way to hide shame and not beautiful and respectful way to live. I’m concerned about the connection that will be drawn between draconian dress code and piety.

    Overall, I think the zealous covering of women misses the point. You haven’t hidden women from all of society but made them a spectacle when they enter the public sector.

    • Sara, I don’t know. Wigs, including fancy wigs, have been around for a long time and are common in Beitar. All of a sudden to come and say that they aren’t modest enough to wear in a store is a scary development. He didn’t phrase it by saying that the store has a certain dress code for employees. He said the wig was immodest.

      • Right, the discussion that “your wig isn’t modest” whether because A). “It is a wig and I don’t like it” or B). “the cut is somehow immodest and I don’t like it” is what concerns me. I don’t believe that either are valid termination of employment, or even to accost a woman and her husband on the street, and this case is just a ridiculous example of the new trend of extreme modesty.

        It isn’t decided which part of her wig he dislikes, but as you suggest the new trend to vilify wigs, which were totally acceptable for for a long time.

        I’m unclear how wigs have suddenly become the red lycra/spandex of immodest head covering?

  4. Very disturbing.

  5. Regular Anonymous says

    IMHO it’s the supermarket manager delaying the coming of Mashiach, not the woman with the sheitel.

  6. Nurse Yachne says

    Yet another reason why Beitar Ilit is on my list of Places Not to Visit.

    • I’ve been there a few times, NY. They have a nice Anglo community.

    • Please read my reply. This story was not true.

      • Etty, please read what I wrote. I said the press reported that she was fired, and the management denied it. We don’t know which is right. And the fact that if, in a place like Beitar that has a Chabad community one can’t wear a wig to work, (long or otherwise), it is disturbing. I agree that the manager can require that his employees dress in a certain way as long as it’s within the law.

  7. Shalom!
    I don’t know enough about this particular incident to judge either party. If the manager didn’t give the woman an opportunity to change her head covering then he’s definitely in the wrong. As far as Sara’s “red spandex” is concerned, Sephardim never accepted the wig as an acceptable head covering for married women. Quite a few Sephardic rabbis have spoken very strongly against wigs, long before Rav Avodia did, although they are allowed, only at work, if a women must wear one in her place of work, a situation which isn’t likely to happen in Israel. In fact, the opposite just happened in Beitar Ilit.

    • Sephardim don’t wear wigs, but Chabad women wear them on principle. It’s not right to expect every community to keep your halachic standards.

      • I don’t expect every community to follow my rabbi, but I do expect all communities, mine included, to distinguish between a “hyper” stringency and halacha. Michael Tzadok’s comment, especially the sources in his own linked post, clearly show that many gedolim, including Ashkenazim, very strongly oppose wigs and don’t refer to their opinion as a stringency. Is a community within halachic grounds concerning demanding that women dress in a certain manner, including head covering, while at work in that community? I can’t imagine that there’s a rabbinic consensus.

  8. This is all wrong. The ladies here have checked this out with the management. The women was applying for a job there. She wasn’t fired! She never worked there. Yes, she was wearing a long wig and was told they preferred employees to wear something else. It was her choice to comply or not apply for the job. She chose to go elsewhere. Many, many places have dress codes for employment all over the world. Everyone should just calm down and check things out before they accept what they read or hear. This is not what Hashem wants from us!
    Please, this women was not fired!!!

    • Etty, I believe I gave both sides of the story. I said she was denied employment, not fired. It sounds like she was actually working as a cashier, but because she was not formally hired (maybe she hadn’t signed papers) the management claims she was not fired. If you could find out I would appreciate it.

      • She came in to apply for the job. The manager wasn’t there at the time. Someone put her at the register to see if she knew how to use it etc. and then the manager came in. Yes, she was at the register but wasn’t working, just part of applying for the job.

  9. OK, so is it OK to fire, or not hire someone if you object to them wearing a more traditional dress code? I am American, and this makes me think. So it really is true, its not that secular people are prejudiced. Its the other way around. Is this because Israel is a religious run country? Wow. When I was young my parents wanted to move to Israel. But I really dislike that kind of exclusivity.

    • If she simply decided to disobey the dress code of her workplace, no matter what it was, then thats fine. However, if she wasn’t hired because of her religious views, then thats very bad. The story seems to be two stories. I guess I shouldn’t have commented. I am just trying to decide what i think of all this for my own life.

    • Martine, thank you so much for your visit and your recent comment. Yes, there is prejudice and exclusivity in Israel just like in many other parts of the world. Israel is not a utopia.