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Editorial: Kippah Club for Men - Baldly Going Where I've Never Gone Before
Above: I'm not just the President, I'm also a client

TORONTO (SP) — Although I am technically Jewish, I have never been terribly religious. In large part, I think this can be attributed to the fact that I didn't grow up in a very religious household. I never had a Bar Mitzvah, never learned Hebrew, and never kept kosher. I've played tennis on Yom Kippur (the holiest day on the Jewish calendar), and I've eaten ham and cheese sandwiches during Passover. I know plenty of non-Jews who, by virtue of a plethora of weddings, funerals and Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, have been to synagogues many more times than I ever have.

Above: I've often struggled to reconcile my Jewish and French Canadian heritage.

However, that's all about to change, because I've decided to become a more observant Jew, but it's not for any of the reasons that you might think. I'm not suffering from a mid-life crisis. I'm not plagued by questions regarding the meaning of life or my place in the universe. I have not been inspired by Madonna to acquire a deeper and more fully-nuanced understanding of Kabbalah. Rather, I have chosen to embrace my Judaism in order to solve a far more pragmatic, albeit less profound, problem: male pattern baldness.

Those of you who never have to deal with this devastating affliction, consider yourselves lucky. Hair loss is a deeply demoralizing, and in most cases, excruciatingly long and drawn-out process. For several years now, I've been losing discernable amounts of hair on a near-daily basis, and that will probably continue for several more years until people start referring to me as "baldy", "cueball", "chromedome", or "Mr. Clean". Every time I look in the bathroom sink, I'm forced to confront the latest contingent of follicular casualties.

Above: My future doppelganger?

I have methodically investigated and rejected many different secular solutions to this pressing problem. Hair plugs? I'm not about to spend thousands of dollars to have clumps of hair implanted in my scalp, only to have it turn out looking like doll hair. I can think of few fates worse than becoming a dead ringer for Casey from Mr. Dressup.

Hair Club for Men? First of all, I have yet to be convinced that any wig, no matter how skillfully crafted, could ever pass for the real thing. Secondly, losing the wig (i.e. having it inadvertently fall off my head in a public place) would be even more psychologically devastating than losing the hair in the first place. I would be so paranoid over such a scenario that as a preemptive measure, I'd probably crazy glue the thing to my scalp, which can't be terribly hygienic.

Spray painting the bald spot? I'll admit that it looks great in the informercial, but clearly that's more of a quick fix than a long-term solution.

Above: Somehow, the spray paint solution just seems too good to be true.

What about drugs, like Rogaine and Propecia? Two problems: They don't regrow hair that's already gone, and the results come at too high a price, given that erectile disfunction is one of the most common side effects of such so-called "wonder drugs".

The only remaining secular option available to me has been to wear hats, and so that's precisely what I've done. Toques, beanies, berets, you name it, I've worn it. Temperature is not even a consideration. It could be over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with extremely high humidity, or I could be sitting in a steam room for over an hour, and I still wouldn't remove the headgear.

Above: I've often gone to rather elaborate lengths to cover the bald spot on my head.

Unfortunately for follicly-challenged individuals such as myself, there are plenty of circumstances in which it simply isn't socially acceptable to wear a hat, such as in an office or at a restaurant. Only very recently did I realize that my religion provided a very welcome exception to this general rule: a very observant Jewish man is not only permitted, but in fact expected to wear a Kippah or Yarmulke at all times. Kippahs are ingeniously constructed in such a manner as to be able to hide all but the faintest traces of male pattern baldness in even the most advanced stages.

Hence, effective immediately, I will be keeping kosher, I will study the Torah, and I will start using my newly-adopted Hebrew name, Israel Israelovitch (but you can call me Izzie if you'd prefer). As a symbol of my renewed commitment to Judaism, I'll be wearing my Kippah 24-7, including when I swim, when I bathe and when I sleep.

Some may think that I risk being subjected to anti-Semitism by perpetually displaying such an obvious sign that I am Jewish, but it is a risk that I willingly undertake. I would much sooner be defined by my Jewishness than by my baldness. Moreover, openly anti-Semitic behaviour is not generally tolerated in the Western world (with the possible exception of France), whereas anti-baldicism is still rampant in our society, and has shown no signs of receding anytime soon.

If my new-found faith in Judaism doesn't ultimately work out, I am willing to consider other religions. I've noticed that the Pope always seems to be wearing a Kippah-like skullcap, so Catholicism is at least one viable option. Richard Gere has always possessed a fairly immaculate coif, so Zen Buddism may be worth looking into. And if all else fails, there's always Islam, although I don't think that I'd look very elegant in a turban.

Above: Izzie of Arabia?
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