- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinian women earn a living by making Jewish skullcaps
- Date: 27th August 2009
- Summary: ISRAELI SOLDIER WEARING A SKULLCAP
- Embargoed: 11th September 2009 13:00
- Topics: Economic News,Lifestyle
- Reuters ID: LVA40VAVRZ3DPZEE0O6PK2O87QMM
- Story Text: Of all the cottage industries you might expect to find in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the crocheting of Jewish skullcaps by Palestinian hands seems one of the oddest.
But creating the colourful caps, known in Hebrew as a "kippahs," keeps hundreds of women busy in villages like Deir Abu Meshal, which have been making the religious headgear for their Jewish neighbours for some 40 years.
Almost every house in the village of 3,000, west of Ramallah, make the little caps. It's a social event as well as a helpful cash-earner. Women bring their wool and needles to each other's home to crochet and chat.
Observant Jews wear a kippah, which means 'dome' in Hebrew, to cover the head in acknowledgement of the supreme God.
The women of Deir Abu Meshal, known for its traditional dress embroidery, say that to them it is merely a business.
"If we get alternative work, we will stop making skullcaps. Everyone wants to make skullcaps without caring about other issues. In other villages there are alternatives, the sewing factory, workshops, and associations to make food. They make lots of stuff," Ruqaya Barghouthi, one of the women sewing the skullcaps said.
The women make around five caps a day, worth about 12 shekels (3 U.S. dollars) each.
When Barghouthi was asked about whether she was happy with the work, she said, "Yes I do have a guilty conscience, but there is no other choice, we have to this to make a living," adding that she had been making the caps for 15 years.
Six Palestinian skullcap dealers distribute the wool, needles and the models to women in the village and 10 neighbouring villages.
The finished articles are collected each week and shipped to Israeli retailers. The skullcaps are also exported to the United States, for the country's Jewish minority.
Palestinian weavers used to make the traditional Keffiyah, the checkered Arab headscarf that the late leader, Yasser Arafat turned into a national Palestinian symbol. However, much of that business has now gone to China, where costs are lower.
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