This spring I spent a few weeks in Israel where I, among other things, did a photo shoot (you’ll find one of the photos in the link section at the bottom of the post). When I was there Kathryn at vastlycurious.com asked me about the shtreimel. I’d figured that I’d use the answer I wrote her as a separate post, so here’s the explanations on this famous Jewish fur hat. The fur hat is called a shtreimel, which is a Yiddish word: שטרײַמל.
I have always wondered the meaning of the furry hat? Can you explain please?
It’s not all of the haredi / hassidic jewish men that wear the fur hat. It’s normal for jewish men to cover their heads, but most people just wear a kippah. The men that wear hats, wear them on top of their kippas – it’s therefore considered to be/ believed to be extra spiritual, but there’s no demand for this in religious texts.
They wear the shtreimel on shabbat and holidays, but in Jerusalem you’ll find that members of the original Ashkenazi community also wears the hat (Ashkenazi = European).
Since the shtreimel שטרײַמל is worn on special occasions, it’s always worn together with special clothes that aren’t worn on weekdays.
In Hebrew there’s also a word צניעות (tzniut), that’s referring to a way of clothing (it’s actually more than that, it’s like a concept on modesty regarding how women should behave and dress) for women. Anyway, since the hat, the shtreimel, is worn by married men on shabbat and holidays, and their women is dressing according to צניעות, tzniut, on Shabbat you’ll see families on a walk, where the men wear their elaborate hats and often the women wear their most beautiful dresses (they never wear pants).
It’s a beautiful sight and if you ever visit Israel (and especially Jerusalem), make sure to stay for Shabbat or one of the Jewish holidays.
Tell me do the women still shave their heads?
There’s 3 different types: those that shave their heads after marriage, because they’re not suppose to show any hair (they wear a wig instead). Then you have those that wear some cloth to cover their hair (usually a hat or some kind of scarf) and then you have the large majority of Jewish women that wear their own natural hair without covering it.