Sheitel (Yiddish: שייטל, sheytl m.sg., שייטלעך, sheytlekh m.pl. or שייטלען, sheytlen m.pl.; Hebrew: פאה נוכרית) is the Yiddish word for a wig or half-wig worn by Orthodox Jewish married women in order to conform with the requirement of Jewish Law to cover their hair. This practice is part of the modesty-related dress standard called tzeniut. The word seems to be derived from the German word Scheitel, meaning "part" (as in hair).
In some hasidic sects, sheitels are avoided as they can give the impression that the wearer's head is uncovered. In other groups women wear some type of covering over the sheitel to avoid this misconception. In stark contrast, the Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged all married Jewish women to wear only sheitels.
In 2005 there was a degree of controversy over natural hair sheitels procured from India. It was discovered that the hair used for the production of these wigs was taken from an Indian house of worship. According to the halacha one cannot derive benefit from anything used in idolatry.
Today most wigs used by Jewish women come with kosher certification, indicating that they are not made with hair originating from idolatrous rituals.
Roughly half of Orthodox married women (especially Sefardim) in Israel do not wear wigs because their rabbis believe that wigs are insufficiently modest , and that other head coverings, such as a cap, scarf, or snood, are more suitable.