New York, NY – Chasidic Jews Dressing With Faith, Not Heat In Mind

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    Hasidic Jews, prominent in Brooklyn, say they have learned to live comfortably in all seasons with their attire, as dictated by tradition. Photo: stefano giovannini.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.

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    56 COMMENTS

    1. YOU DESCRIBE EUROPEAN DRESS.
      As a sepharad I wear long robes one under and one open to fly in t he wind when i ride my camel Also a long flowing head covering with braided robe around the crown of head. I have a new staff able to split seas.
      I feed my camels very well. The camels, my wife and I are quite comfortable in this heat.
      You see our father ‘ABARAHAM raised us in ur kasdim also a very hot climate. My family never left even after the british renamed it to iraq, even after the romans renamed the land to palsitine, even after the world tells me to move to uganda, my people ,my family, never left the land except for brief journeys but I was sure to always leave some family at our hme or my brothers home in Israel renamed palsitine and also syria egypt lebanon. A few of my ancestors were captured by romand and sold as slaves to germany. Yes sadly they did adopt the ways of the barbarians
      BUT I KNOW ONE THING FOR SURE
      MASHIACH IS ARRIVING SOON AND WE WILL ALL RETURN
      TO THE WAY WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE,
      THE WAY HASHEM THE ONE AND ONLY GD WANTS US..
      TO KNOW ‘HIM’ AND KNOW ‘HIS’ LAWS
      B’H

      \

        • How dare you strike down another Israelite. I am not sure if you perceive the world the way I do, but Hashem has given us people of many walks in life and some are effortless and others troubling in some way. Dacon is striving to do his best and anyone who wants to hurt another jew should look for a psychiatrist themselves.

      • I actually think you are right. Current Jewish dress is adopted from European style. Chassidishe clothing is based on the dress of Polish nobility.
        The Fur Hats and long black coats are Slavic/Russian/Eastern European styles.
        You can look these styles up online.
        I love the Yiddish childrens books about Pesach. Forgot the name. The Jews in Egypt wear shtreimels. Hilarious!!!
        Not meshugener. Some people prefer to dismiss views that they feel to be cognitively dissonant to their own.

      • You say that [your] “family never left even after the british renamed it to iraq”. Where do you double park your camels in downtown Baghdad these days?

        Alternatively, and as you probably *really* live somewhere in north-east America, when was the last time you wore “long robes one under and one open to fly in t he wind and … also a long flowing head covering with braided robe around the crown of head.”?

        “I have a new staff able to split seas.”?

        You might be able to split peas – but definitely not seas, you meshugana.

    2. While the halachot of tzniut are very important, there are absolutely no halachik requirements to wear a shtreimel. I can see nothing “pleasing to G-d” in wearing a shtreimel.

    3. I personally could not wear dark, heavy clothing in the hot weather, let alone a fur hat. But if someone believes that they are fulfilling a Mitzvah and it gives them a sense of closeness to Hashem, Kol Hakavod. They are not hurting anyone, so live and let live.

      • Love your attitude…wish everyone would accept that premise…live and let live. Why in the world are people bothered by what other people do, if they don’t hurt anyone with it…can never understand that.
        Well….there are people out there, who unfortunately, have nothing better to do with their time …brains…and heart…so they stick it to em!!!
        What are you gonna do……….?

      • I like your comant, that’s the mature way of thinking, as we know the chassidem (not all, a lot) r judging others, and every change anybody is making they right away judge, and by them every change somebody makes, is a sine of not stable, but in the other hand we can’t judge them, we have to respect other peopls decisions, and every body has a right to choice what he wanna wear etc..

        • Da kvesch’n iz, vear yu lern’t to speec Inglish. Me thinks yu r steal leaivink in rommenye, or yu kaeym off de ship leszt veak.
          In other words, your intelligence (or the lack of it) shows through in your post for what passes as the English language, while other, Chassidic people, for whom you have utter contempt, speak (And write) decent (And proper) English.

    4. A Guy without a shirt and shorts once met a Ruv in all shmoineh beudim in a boiling day, that Goy ask the Rov why all this cloth? The Rov replied Me when I get hot I take of my coat, more hot- I take of my hat, more hot – I take of my vest, open my tob button, change for a cotton tzitzis… But you what can you doman?….

    5. Right in this time, we bash them for the way they dress! They have to appease us and dress (or rather undress) like us!! Please! they want to wear a winter coat good for them! it’s none of our business even to print!

    6. love it, love it, love it!

      Just to see men and women sweating and suffereing for their beliefs. It is these clothing that holds them together and yet apart from others, or so they think. If it works, great. I personally prefer to dress more comfortable and still can maintain my distance from undesirables.

    7. This should be the worst that the NY Times can say about chareidim…they dress wierd. So what. There are some hipsters whose lvush make the yerushalmi guys in meah sheaarim look like Tommy Hillfinger protoges’

    8. I am not Chasidish, but I think that Hashem is *pleased* when the Chasidim wear streimels as it is their minhag ; Hashem is pleased when we carry out traditions.

      • I genuinely do not wish to cause anyone here any offense at all, but who are we to know whether HaShem is pleased or dissatisfied with our actions?

      • There is absolutely no halacha that says one must suffer in the heat by piling on layers of clothing and a hat or streimel. You think “Hashem is pleased,” and I think Hashem is wondering where his beloved children came up with such narishkeit.

      • G-d is pleased when you follow the laws. G-d is equally liking the idea of dignity. But there is a place and time for every job. If you like streimels great! If you hate the minhag of anything else, maybe there is a situation to be concerned with in the future. But either way, sweat it out huh?

    9. for all those who read this and dress with all the clothes listed here , straimels too….make sure u drink lots of water so u dont dehydrate from sweating so much…no joke…serious advice.

    10. Is it also a mitzvah to have all the kids clothes match? Look at the picture….alot of time and money is spent in this in Willy and bp. It’s not all “nikadesh shem shamayim”

    11. The Hasid said “hot and cold is all in the mind anyway.” You can’t pray biological functions away. When your body overheats, you sweat like every other person on the planet. When you guys enter the crowded subway in a heat wave and people around you can’t find a space to run away to, you know that it’s not just in your mind. Or when I stand in line at the bank on 13th and a fully clothed Hasid stands in front of you when it’s 90 degrees outside, you can tell….or at least smell that the heat bothers them a lot. Even Arabs are smarter to wear garnets designed for desert heat when it’s hot. Torah doesn’t tell us to suffer in the summer.

    12. When Jews were forced out of warm climates to cold climates in Poland, Russia and germany, they DROPPED THEIR MINHAG of wearing light clothing to starting to wear heavy, warm clothing of the north. Why, oh why, can’t the Jews who have returned to Israel, a warm climate ,DROP THEIR MINHAG, and start wearing the old light clothing of their Avos?
      It boggles the mind!
      As for the New York Jews in 90 degree weather – no comment.

    13. Faith ???
      I’m one of the shtraimel wearers.
      I don’t know anyone who dresses with shtraimel because of faith, or anything to do with hashem.
      Its just social pressure and nothing more!
      We know how our community does not tolerate any individuality, that leaves us with no choice.

      Claiming that we are so dumb and stupid to think that hashem actually gets pleasure from us wearing $4,000 shtraimlech or long bekiches is belitteling an entire community.

      • Iam sorry my good Sir but, shtreimels do indeed come with holes punched into the cap part. Take it from me, my newish son-in-law bought his shtreimel last year and this was one of the options offered.

    14. At work yesterday, they announced that today the usual dress code would be suspended. I suspect this may have something to do with turning up the thermostat on the air conditioner. There is a lot of computer equipment here so they can’t turn it up too high.

      • The colder the air the happier the computer equipment will be. If your bosses don’t want to make it colder in your office I imagine it’s because they don’t want to pay higher electricity costs, not because it’ll damage the computers.

      • Please tell me where, exactly, I can find a source that categorically states that wearing a streimel (perforated or not) is fulfilling a mitzvah.

        If you do not bother to respond I think we will all be safely able to say that yaakov doe was talking through his hat and lacked credibility when he wrote that “A streimal with holes in it is not a holy streimal and one does not fullfil the mitzva with it”.

        • I think you failed to see (Or hear) the pun (If you know what that means) in his post.
          some people hate them. I love them. Others fail to see them. (Or understand them.).

    15. Reply to # 29. Please speak for yourself. Please don’t insult all shtreimel wearing people. Who most of them are intellectual people, who don’t wear it because of social pressures!

    16. As much as i enjoy and prefer to dress more “cool” in the summer, I still respect all yeshivish and chassidish for their strength and firmness, kol hakovod!

    17. Do any of you think that wearing open, sleeveless vests and mini shorts is gonna keep you cooler in 90 degrees? Absolutely NOT!
      the sun beating on your skin is the worst. A sure cause of skin cancer which statisticaly is much much higher amongst the goyim than frum yidden.
      yes, wearing 3 piece black or any color suit is also crazy in this heat. But who said chassidim can’t wear light clothing that is tzniusdik?
      ….Think again!…

    18. Baruch Hashem, klall yisroel has kept strong. Anything anybody does is in the state of mind. Some things seem foreign to others but it is all about what and where you train your mind and being to be. Kol Hakavod to shtreimels, Kol hakavod to non shtreimels or the holy Frocks; which has the same concept as a shtreimel. kol hakavod for any yid that holds his mesorah strongly. Kol Hakavod to the Kipa Sruga and Kol Hakavod to Sefardim and Ashkenazim. When are we gonna learn that to the outside world we are all the same. To Hashem we are no different. And therefor to us/eachother we should just accept and respect our differences as long as it’s for Retzon Hashem.

    19. The great Taylor Swift said it best, “she wears short shorts, I wear t-shirts; she wears high heels, I wear sneakers.”
      You do what you want, I do what I want. You don’t tell me what to wear, I don’t tell you what to wear (as long as you don’t walk down my street or shop in my store, then I will tell you what to wear).

    20. If #2 chief doofus says that he sees nothing pleasing to Hashem in wearing a Shtreimel I must also concur. Also, whereas women must be tznius, remember that woman can be tznius and also cool. Summer dresses are not the same as wearing pants. In my opinion, the men are all idiots because they are not disallowed from wearing shorts. There is nothing sexy about the hairly legs of a male Hasid – except perhaps if your name happens to be Abraham Mondrowitz (see story above) Even then, I think the whole concept of puberty probably scares him.

    21. My father a”h was a refugee living in Morocco with my grandparents from 1940-45, having escaped from Belgium after the Nazis invaded. He basically lived in tents for five years, from the ages of 12 to 17. He learned tricks from the Moroccan Jews to keep cool in very hot weather and used those tricks for the rest of his life. No matter how hot it got it outside, he never used air conditioning and always drank a huge glass of hot tea after every meal. We are spoiled; there are many ways to survive and even thrive in hot weather. It really is all in the mind.

    22. This was a fairly respectful article that answers a question that many both inside and outside the frum world wonder about both in private and aloud. I’m not chaddisish, but why would it bother me to see someone else follow their rabbanim? I’m not getting what the hak is all about on this article.

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