Dressing up for Shabbat (Part II)

May 29, 2013

Every week, Jody Hirsh, the JCC's Judaic Education Director, provides a Shabbat message that is featured at the top of the JCC's weekly email newsletter.  Below is the Shabbat message for Friday, May 31, 2013.

Dressing up for Shabbat (Part II)

For many Jews, the archetypal image of dressing for Shabbat is that of the Hassidic Jew wearing his Kaputeh (long coat) and Streimel (fur hat).  The hat itself is totally distinctive. It’s a hat usually with a velvet base that is surrounded by fur – usually tails: sable, fox, and other furs. The number of tails is usually symbolic. 13 (the number of attributes of God stated in Exodus). 18 (“Life”). 26 (The numerology of the 4 letter name of God).  This hat is never worn on ordinary work days – it is entirely in the realm of Sabbath and Holidays that it takes its exalted place.

There are many legends about how the Streimel came into existence. It is entirely an Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) article of attire, and is actually similar to hats worn by the Polish/Russian aristocracy. In 1812, after Napoleon  conquered Poland, the Polish aristocracy converted to more “modern” western attire, but the Jews clung to their traditional Shabbat clothing.

Coming in a few weeks: Special foods for Shabbat. If you or your family or community has special food that you eat on Shabbat particularly, let me know! Write me at jhirsh@jccmilwaukee.org

Shabbat Shalom