Dov Abramson, Shabbat Shirt, 2007
Acrylic on Canvas, 60×80 cm


It was a Shabbat Shirt that chipped the first crack in my Orthodoxy. Not that anyone could have predicted that my reluctance to wear a collared white shirt at the age of fifteen would lead to many internal (and external) changes years later – but still, in hindsight at least, it all started with the Shabbat Shirt. My parents were officially worried. Why is he wearing his weekday shirt on Shabbat? Why is he wearing that blue Kippa to services on Friday Night? And those pants, aren’t they the ones he wore last Wednesday? And I, and not in a spiteful way, I might add – was doing my own thing. Playing little games between me and myself. Wearing a white shirt on Sunday. Putting on my Shabbat Shoes on Friday just until sundown, and then changing to sandals. Little exercises in the seam between holy and mundane. For many years I could not get myself to wear the canonical White Shabbat Shirt on Shabbat. When need be I found creative, yet distinctive, alternatives: a white tennis shirt (those “in the loop” know that these can never be considered “official” Shabbat Shirts), white collared shirts with subtle Japanese prints, or a mickey mouse logo. I refused to wear the uniform. In recent years, I take the Shabbat Shirt off its hanger once a year – on Yom Kippur. I believe that it’s not such a bad thing to have one day a year wear we put are over-sophistication and ego aside, and just get into line. Last Yom Kippur I even added a matching standard White Kippa on my head.