New York, NY – When the mercury passes 90, most New Yorkers start to wilt. Many resort to shorts and tank tops, even in the office. More than a few bankers and lawyers reach for their seersuckers.
Yet amid all the casual summer wear, in some neighborhoods more than others, Hasidic men wear dark three-piece suits crowned by black hats made of rabbit fur, and Hasidic women outfit themselves in long-sleeved blouses and nearly ankle-length skirts. To visibly cooler New Yorkers, they can look painfully overdressed.
Some New Yorkers who are not Hasidic surely ask themselves: How on earth do they stay cool?
“I think I’m not as hot as other people because the sun is not on me,” said Chany Friedman, who was shopping recently in Borough Park, Brooklyn, with two of her five children in tow, wearing a sweater and dense stockings in addition to other concealing clothing. “If I’m covered, the sun is not on me. I’m happy that I’m not exposed to the world.”
Using a Hebrew name for God, she added, “That’s what Ha-Shem wants from us.”
“Does anybody ask a congressman why he walks into Congress with a suit or a Wall Street executive why he goes to work in a suit?” asked Isaac Abraham, a leader in the Satmar Hasidic community.
Hot and cold is all in the mind anyway, argued Shea Hecht, a Lubavitch Hasid who heads the movement’s educational outreach arm. In his dark suit and gray fedora — Lubavitch garb differs from that of other Hasidim, though it is still conservative — he sometimes chuckles at people in Bermuda shorts.
“Why are they spending so much money on only a half a pair of pants?” he said. (Cue rimshot.)
Still, Hasidim have found subtle ways to beat the heat.
The shtreimel, the tall, cylindrical, Russian sable hat that Hasidic men wear on the Sabbath to dignify the day, has been modified in recent years, with holes in the crown to provide a kind of ersatz air-conditioning. Those innovations may not seem to offer that much relief, but in Hasidic philosophy, it is more important to please God.
Read full article at New York Times