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Shtreimel

Shtreimel

Overview
A shtreimel is a fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

 hat worn by many married haredi Jewish
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 men, particularly (although not exclusively) members of Hasidic
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

 groups, on Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

and Jewish holiday
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

s and other festive occasions. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by 'Yerushalmi' Jews (non-Hasidim who belong to the original Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem, also known as Perushim
Perushim
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, then under Ottoman rule...

).
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
A shtreimel is a fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

 hat worn by many married haredi Jewish
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 men, particularly (although not exclusively) members of Hasidic
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

 groups, on Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

and Jewish holiday
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

s and other festive occasions. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by 'Yerushalmi' Jews (non-Hasidim who belong to the original Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem, also known as Perushim
Perushim
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, then under Ottoman rule...

). The shtreimel is generally worn only after marriage, except in many Yerushalmi communities, where boys wear it from their bar mitzvah. In the dynasties of Chabad-Lubavitch
Chabad-Lubavitch
Chabad-Lubavitch is a Chasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism. One of the world's larger and best-known Chasidic movements, its official headquarters is in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York...

 and Karlin-Stolin, the shtreimel was reserved for the Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

 only.

Origins


While there is strong religious custom for Jewish males to cover their heads
Kippah
A kippah or kipa , also known as a yarmulke , kapele , is a hemispherical or platter-shaped head cover, usually made of cloth, often worn by Orthodox Jewish men to fulfill the customary requirement that their head be covered at all times, and sometimes worn by both men and, less frequently, women...

, from the standpoint of Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 there is no special religious significance to the shtreimel as compared to other head coverings. However, the wearing of two head coverings is considered to add additional spiritual merit, plus the presence of beautiful craftship adds beautification and honor to the custom. The shtreimel is always worn over a kippah.

There is much speculation surrounding the origin of the shtreimel. According to Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

, it is of Tatar origin.

A traditional story has it that an anti-Semitic political figure once issued a decree that male Jews must be identified on Shabbat by "wearing a tail" on their heads. Although the decree was an attempt to mock the Jews, the Hasidic rabbis considered the matter seriously, in keeping with the universally accepted Jewish law stating "the Law of the Land in which Jews live is to be upheld so long as it does not obstruct Jewish observance." They arrived at a plan that complied with and even exceeded the decree by arranging to make hats such as worn by royalty, encircled by a ring of tails, thereby transforming an object of intended ridicule into a crown. Further, they instituted that the number of tails follow Jewish numerology
Gematria
Gematria or gimatria is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person's age, the calendar year, or the like...

, symbolizing the wearer's sacred intentions.

Male Orthodox Jews can be highly conservative regarding headgear, and some traditional Jews still wear trilby
Trilby
A trilby hat is a type of fedora. The trilby is viewed as the rich man's favored hat; it is commonly called the "brown trilby" in England and is much seen at the horse races. It is described as a "crumpled" fedora...

s or homburgs
Homburg (hat)
A homburg is a felt hat, a Tyrolean hat-style fedora, characterized by a single dent running down the center of the crown and a stiff brim shaped in a "kettle curl". The Homburg is a stiff, formal felt hat....

; in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 tricorne
Tricorne
The tricorne or tricorn is a style of hat that was popular during the 18th century, falling out of style by 1800. At the peak of its popularity, the tricorne was worn as civilian dress and as part of military and naval uniforms...

s or in the UK top hat
Top hat
A top hat, beaver hat, high hat silk hat, cylinder hat, chimney pot hat or stove pipe hat is a tall, flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hat, predominantly worn from the latter part of the 18th to the middle of the 20th century...

s. Such headgear is worn on special occasions (such as Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

), in the synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

, or by office-holders such as rabbis and even where non-Jews in the country of origin have mostly stopped wearing it. The shtreimel is comparable in construction to fur hats worn by Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 and Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 nobility and royalty. Peter the Great wore a hat resembling a shtreimel. After Napoleon conquered Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in 1812, most Poles adopted western European dress, except the Jews, who wore the old style, including the shtreimel.

Types of Shtreimels



The most widely seen shtreimel is typically worn by the Hasidim of Galicia, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, and was worn by Lithuanian Jews up until the 20th century. It comprises a large circular piece of black velvet
Velvet
Velvet is a type of woven tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed,with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel.The word 'velvety' is used as an adjective to mean -"smooth like velvet".-Composition:...

 surrounded by fur. The shtreimel of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Menachem Mendel Schneersohn
Menachem Mendel Schneersohn also known as the Tzemach Tzedek was an Orthodox rabbi and the third Rebbe of the Chabad Lubavitch chasidic movement.-Biography:...

 (the Tzemach Tzedek) was from white velvet. Hasidim originating from Congress Poland
Congress Poland
The Kingdom of Poland , informally known as Congress Poland , created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, was a personal union of the Russian parcel of Poland with the Russian Empire...

 wear a high shtreimel (often called a spodik
Spodik
A spodik is a tall fur hat worn by some Hasidic Jews, particularly members of sects originating in Congress Poland. Spodiks are to be distinguished from shtreimels, which are a similar type of fur hat worn by Hasidim...

). The shtreimel of the Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

s of the Ruzhin
Ruzhin (Hasidic dynasty)
The Ruzhin Hasidic dynasty was founded by Rabbi Yisroel Friedman of Ruzhyn, . Today, Ruzhyn is an urban-type settlement in Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine. Rav Yisroel's father was the Rebbe Sholom Shachne of Prhobisht, who was a son of Rabbi Avrohom "HaMalach"...

 and Skolye
Skolye (Hasidic dynasty)
The Skolye dynasty is a dynasty of Hasidic rabbis. It is named after the city of Skole in Eastern Galicia where the founder of this dynasty lived and led his court.-List of Rabbis:*Rabbi Yitzchok of Drohobych The Skolye dynasty is a dynasty of Hasidic rabbis. It is named after the city of Skole ...

 dynasties is pointed upward.

Symbolism


According to Rabbi Aaron Wertheim, Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz (1726–1791) stated, "The acronym for Shabbos is: Shtreimel Bimkom Tefillin -- the shtreimel takes the place of tefillin
Tefillin
Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah, which are worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. Although "tefillin" is technically the plural form , it is loosely used as a singular as...

." Since wearing special clothing on Shabbat
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 is a form of sanctification, among the Hasidim
Hasidic Judaism
Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" , is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith...

 of Galicia and Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, the shtreimel is associated with the holiness of Shabbat, a crown such as that worn by royalty, which enhances and beatifies Shabbat.

There are those who say that to wear a shtreimel is to wear a crown. Viewed from atop the head, the ring of tails is wrapped clockwise spirally connoting that the spiritual forces invoked by the shtreimel are radiating in such a fashion as to invoke the Divine Presence to become more tangible in creation. even asserts that the number of furs used in the manufacture of the shtreimel has some significance. Common numbers are 13, 18, and 26, corresponding respectively to the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy
Thirteen Attributes of Mercy
The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy or Shelosh-'Esreh Middot enumerated in Exodus 34:6-7 are the attributes with which, according to Jewish tradition, God governs the world...

, the numerical value (gematria
Gematria
Gematria or gimatria is a system of assigning numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person's age, the calendar year, or the like...

) of the word for life , and the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton
Tetragrammaton
The term Tetragrammaton refers to the name of the God of Israel YHWH used in the Hebrew Bible.-Hebrew Bible:...

. Contemporary shtreimlach may include higher numbers of tails. At least one maker creates shtreimelach with 42 tails, symbolizing the 42-letter Divine Name.

Manufacture


The shtreimel is typically custom-made for the intended wearer, of genuine fur
Fur
Fur is a synonym for hair, used more in reference to non-human animals, usually mammals; particularly those with extensives body hair coverage. The term is sometimes used to refer to the body hair of an animal as a complete coat, also known as the "pelage". Fur is also used to refer to animal...

, from the tips of the tails typically of Canadian or Russian sable
Sable
The sable is a species of marten which inhabits forest environments, primarily in Russia from the Ural Mountains throughout Siberia, in northern Mongolia and China and on Hokkaidō in Japan. Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia...

, stone marten
Beech Marten
The beech marten , also known as the stone marten or white breasted marten, is a species of marten native to much of Europe and Central Asia, though it has established a feral population in North America. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN on account of its wide distribution, its large...

, baum marten (Pine Marten
Pine Marten
The European Pine Marten , known most commonly as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and less commonly also known as Pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten, is an animal native to Northern Europe belonging to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine and weasel. It...

), or American gray fox
Gray Fox
The gray fox is a mammal of the order Carnivora ranging throughout most of the southern half of North America from southern Canada to the northern part of South America...

. The shtreimel is the most costly article of Hasidic clothing, ranging in price from US$1,000 to US$5,400. It is possible to buy a shtreimel made of synthetic fur, which is more common in Israel. Usually the bride's father purchases the shtreimel for the groom upon his wedding
Jewish view of marriage
In Judaism, marriage is viewed as a contractual bond commanded by God in which a man and a woman come together to create a relationship in which God is directly involved. Though procreation is not the sole purpose, a Jewish marriage is also expected to fulfill the commandment to have children. The...

. Nowadays, it is customary in America to purchase two shtreimels: a cheaper version (selling for $800–1,500), called the regen shtreimel (rain shtreimel) used for occasions where the expensive one may get damaged. In Israel, due to the economic circumstances of most members of the Hasidic community in that country, the vast majority of shtreimel-wearers own only one shtreimel. Manufacturers of shtreimels can be found in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Bnei Brak, and Jerusalem. The shtreimel manufacturers (shtreimel machers in Yiddish) keep their trade a closely guarded secret.

Other clothing


The shtreimel is only worn in conjunction with other articles of clothing that comprise "Shabbos wear". It is never worn with weekday clothing.

While there are no official rules as to when the shtreimel is to be worn, it is usually worn on the following occasions:
  • Shabbat
    Shabbat
    Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

    ;
  • holidays, including Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur
    Yom Kippur
    Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

    , Sukkot
    Sukkot
    Sukkot is a Biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei . It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.The holiday lasts seven days...

    , Simchat Torah
    Simchat Torah
    Simchat Torah or Simḥath Torah is a celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle...

    , Shemini Atzeret
    Shemini Atzeret
    Shemini Atzeret is a Jewish holiday. It is celebrated on the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. In the Diaspora, an additional day is celebrated, the second day being separately referred to as Simchat Torah...

    , Purim
    Purim
    Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther .Purim is celebrated annually according to the Hebrew calendar on the 14th...

    , Pesach, Shavuot
    Shavuot
    The festival of is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan ....

    ;
  • (Chol HaMoed
    Chol HaMoed
    Chol HaMoed, a Hebrew phrase meaning "weekdays [of] the festival" , refers to the intermediate days of Passover and Sukkot. During Chol HaMoed the usual restrictions that apply to the Biblical Jewish holidays are relaxed, but not entirely eliminated...

    ) of Pesach and Sukkot;
  • the evenings following the end of the above-mentioned days;
  • at one's own wedding, or those of family members or of members of one's Rebbe
    Rebbe
    Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

    's family;
  • during the seven days following one's wedding, or of the wedding of a close family member (sheva brachot
    Sheva Brachot
    Sheva Brachot literally "the seven blessings" also known as birkot Nesuim , "the wedding blessings" in Jewish religious law are blessings that are recited for a bride and her groom as part of nissuim...

    );
  • at a brit milah
    Brit milah
    The brit milah is a Jewish religious circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day old male infants by a mohel. The brit milah is followed by a celebratory meal .-Biblical references:...



Some Hasidic Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

s wear a shtreimel on occasions when their Hasidim will not, such as when lighting the Hanukah menorah or when conducting a tish
Tish
Tish may refer to:* Tish , a Hasidic gathering of Hassidim around their Rebbe* Tish Jones, a recurring fictional character in the television series Doctor Who...

on Tu B'Shevat and Lag B'Omer, whereas other rebbes may wear a kolpik
Kolpik
A kolpik is a type of traditional headgear worn in families of some Chassidic Rebbes , by unmarried children on Shabbat, and by some Rebbes on special occasions. It is made from brown fur, as opposed to a spodik, worn by Polish chassidic dynasties, which is fashioned out of black fur.The word...

on those occasions, and still others simply wear their weekday hat.