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A woollen rekel

Rekel[1][2](Yiddish: רעקל) or lang rekel (plural rekelech) is a type of frock coat worn mainly by Hasidic Jewish men during the Jewish workweek (Sunday-Friday). Though the rekel was intended for weekday use, some Hasidim wear it on Shabbat. However, a more formal coat, called a bekishe in Hungarian, is considered by many as a more proper Shabbat garment. The bekishe is usually made of polyester or silk, whereas the rekel is usually made of polyester or wool. By way of comparison, The New York Times described the bekeshe as a "fancier Sabbath version" of the rekel.[1]


The word rekel stems from the German-dialect word Röckel, a cognate of the High German Röckchen, the grammatical diminutive of Rock (in this sense meaning a man's long coat, rather than a woman's skirt). Note that the Yiddish dialects are abundant with the use of such grammatical diminutives, in contrast to High German in which diminutives are used only rarely and in specific situations. Prior to the use of the rekel as standard Hasidic garb, Hasidic coats were generally buttonless, white robes with black or multi-color stripes, held together by a gartel. The change in Hasidic dress occurred towards the end of the 19th century, when the Jewish Emancipation became successful. The old style is still maintained by many communities in Jerusalem, even non-Hasidic ones.[3]


Unlike classic clothing, which has the button on the left side for women and on the right side for men,[4][5][6] a Rekel (or other Jewish men's garment) is buttoned right on left.[7][8][9][10]

Rekelech are generally made of a black or navy wool blend or of worsted wool. Today some are made of 100% polyester. Many Hasidim in the past did not wear wool clothing, and the new polyester rekelech actually make it easier to keep the Biblical injunction against mixing it with linen (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:11).[11] These garments tend to be light, and thinner than the average suit coat, since they are generally worn throughout the year. Rekelech are usually sold as part of a suit with matching pants and a waistcoat (זשילעט), though they are also sometimes available as suit separates.

The most common type of rekel is the double-breasted variety, but many other styles exist. These include a single-breasted version (typical of the Breslover Hasidim), and concealed button version, which many Gerer, Bobover and Sanz-Klausenburger Hasidim wear. There is also a single breasted version with a shawl collar and attached gartel. Several styles of unlined rekelech exist, which are typically worn in hot weather, and often conform to the styles noted above. All rekelech share a right over left button style,[8] the opposite of what one would find on most men's clothing.[4] Unlike most long coats rekelech tend not to have walking vents, but some of the concealed button and single-breasted rekelech do.


As with most Haredi Jewish clothing today,[12] rekelech may be darkly colored; black and navy blue are favorite color choices. Prior to World War II the most popular color for the rekel was a light grey, but this has fallen into disuse. Pinstripes have always been a common feature on rekelach. In recent times, rekelech with other patterns such as embossed checkers have caught on, particularly with the more colorful Breslov, Bobov, and Sanz-Klausenbug Hasidim. The rekelekh of these groups also tend to use lighter colors than those of other Hasidim, ranging anywhere from black to lighter shades of midnight blue.


  1. ^ a b Joseph Berger (July 28, 2010). "Dressing With Faith, Not Heat, in Mind: Hasidic Jews in Heavy Dress Bear Up in Summer". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  2. ^ Joseph Berger (July 21, 2010). "Bit by Electronic Bit, a Great Cantor Is Restored". The New York Times. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  3. ^ Goldberg-Mulkiewicz, Olga. "Dress". YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Megan Garber (March 27, 2015). "The Curious Case of Men and Women's Buttons". Retrieved November 6, 2022. on the left for the ladies and on the right for the gents {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  5. ^ Danny Lewis (November 23, 2015). "Here's Why Men's and Women's Clothes Button on Opposite Sides". Smithsonian. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  6. ^ Benjamin Radford (July 6, 2010). "Why Are Men's and Women's Buttons on Opposite Sides?". Live Science. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  7. ^ Chaya Korb Hubner (1989). The Broken Magen David. p. 116. men button right on left .. Tznius
  8. ^ a b Danna Lorch (February 13, 2019). "Why Do Hasidic Men Button Their Shirts The Wrong Way?". The Forward. Retrieved November 6, 2022. Just like women, most Hasidic men button their jackets, shirts, and rekels (long frock coat) with the right side over the left
  9. ^ Madison Margolin (February 12, 2017). "In ultra-Orthodox fashion, you can tell a lot about a person by his button holdes". The Times of Israel. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  10. ^ What's the Difference Between Hasidic vs. Orthodox Jews?, June 14, 2021
  11. ^ Dress, retrieved November 6, 2022
  12. ^ Sarah Kleinberg (September 11, 2009). "Now Plugging My Yiddishe Tailor". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2022. in bright hues

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