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March 17, 1989 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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58

FRIDAY, MARCH 17, 1989

The Sheitel Machers

Detroiters no longer need to head east to visit wig makers.

JOANNE ZUROFF

Special to The Jewish News

T

wenty years ago, the
religious Jewish wo-
men of Detroit
journeyed regularly to New
York, visiting thier wig
makers — "sheitel machers"
— for new purchases.
A few local women dabbled
in selling wigs, but lacked the
clientele to remain profitable.
Things started to change 14
years ago, when Chanchie
Frankel, who had studied in
beauty school, moved to Oak
Park and started selling syn-
thetic sheitels. She also cut
and styled wigs for her
clients.
She started to lose money
and gradually eased out of
the business. But Frankel
did, in fact, pave the way for
what has become a booming
occupation in metropolitan
Detroit.
Orthodox women no longer
need to shuttle back and forth
between New York and
Detroit to see the sheitel
macher. A burgeoning local
Orthodox community has
created a market for sheitels.
An estimated 400 Detroit
area Jewish women cover
their hair for religious
purposes.
"Sometimes, right before
the holidays, I can get six new
wig customers a day," said
Channie. Snow, a native
Detroiter who studied wig
styling in New York. "Women
come to me from Cleveland,
Toronto, and small towns
throughout the Midwest."
Snow, one of two local wig
makers, launched her
business right before Rosh
Hashanah two years ago and
has been busy ever since.
Tova, another local native
who lives in Israel but
returns to Oak Park twice a
year to make sheitels, noted,
"On my recent trip in
November, I had a list of 75
women waiting for appoint-
ments. Clients were due from
Cleveland and Toronto, and
several brides-to-be were
scheduled for appointments."
When Joyce Kokon arrived
in Oak Park in 1982, she im-
mediately noticed the need
for a local sheitel macher.
Equipped with formal train-
ing and several years of ex-
perience garnered in New
York, Denver and Los
Angeles, Kokon set up shop.
However, she describes her
work as "less a business and
more of a sideline."
Most sheitel machers agree

Sheitel macher Chanie Snow makes a wig to fit Sandi Roskind.

that the market of Orthodox
women who cover their hair is
rapidly growing. Today, even
young women who grew up in
modern Orthodox homes and
whose mothers didn't cover
their hair, choose to observe
this mitzvah.
According to Orthodox Rab-
bi Reuven Drucker, of Young
Israel of Greenfield, "A
woman is mandated by Torah
to cover her hair when in the
presence of men; this is con-
sidered a gesture of modesty
on the woman's part, and like
all laws of modesty, it is a
recognition by the individual
that a person can be over-
taken by momentary desires
and that there is a higher be-
ing to whom she is responsi-
ble for her behavior."
Today, several wig manufac-
turers based in New York
supply a majority of their
wigs to the Orthodox market
worldwide. Most of these com-
panies are owned by obser-
vant women. The creators of
these enterprises are general-
ly creative women with ex-
perience in working with hair
and wigs.

Georgie and Yaffa, owners
of two companies that bear
their respective names, are
known for their wig styling
courses, which last about
three months and offer com-
plete training. Seminars, that
act as refresher courses and
industry updates, are also of-
fered by the two women twice
a year. The courses and
seminars attract sheitel
machers from all around the
world.
Most wig companies show
from 30-50 different wigs in
their line. They carry syn-
thetic wigs, human hair-
synthetic blends and human
hair wigs.
The synthetic product used
today is Elura. These wigs are
the least expensive and are
easy to care for but might
have an unnatural sheen.
The Elura are also sensitive
to sweat and break when
rubbed against a wool collar.
Sensitive also to heat, they
should not be worn near an
oven, which makes them im-
practical for Shabbat or Yom

Toy.

Next in line are the blends

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