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Shtreimel on a mannequin
A rabbi dressed in shtreimel, Jerusalem

A shtreimel (Yiddish: שטרײַמלshtrayml, plural: שטרײַמלעך shtraymlekh or שטרײַמלען shtraymlen) is a fur hat worn by many married Haredi Jewish men, particularly (although not exclusively) members of Hasidic Judaism, on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and other festive occasions.[1] In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by Litvak Jews (non-Hasidim who belong to the original Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem, also known as Perushim). The shtreimel is generally worn only after marriage, except in some Jewish Jerusalem communities, where boys wear it from the age of bar mitzvah.


There is much speculation surrounding the origin of the shtreimel. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, it is of Tatar origin.[2] Different theories hold that it is of Tatar, Turkish or Russian origin, but it is not possible to establish a clear chronology.[3] Some legends say that the initial reason for adopting the shtreimel was that the Russian tsar of the time decreed that the Jews must dress like the Gentiles.[citation needed] The shtreimel is comparable in construction to fur hats historically worn by nobles or gentiles across Europe, Scandinavia and Russia.[4][5] According to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, the shtreimel could come from a period in the 17th century when Oriental costumes were considered fashionable by the nobility of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (Sarmatism).[5]

Types of shtreimels[edit]

Portrait of the Tzemach Tzedek wearing his unique shtreimel
Portrait of David Moses Friedman of the Chortkov dynasty wearing the unique shtreimel of the Ruzhin dynasty

The most widely seen shtreimel is typically worn by the Hasidim of Galicia, Romania, and Hungary, and was worn by Lithuanian Jews up until the 20th century. It comprises a large circular piece of black velvet surrounded by fur. The shtreimel of Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (the Tzemach Tzedek) was from white velvet. Hasidim originating from Congress Poland wear a high shtreimel (often called a spodik). The shtreimel of the Rebbes of the Ruzhin and Skolye dynasties is pointed upward.


While there is strong religious custom for Jewish males to cover their heads, from the standpoint of Jewish law there is no religious significance to the use of the shtreimel as the head covering. However, the wearing of two head coverings (the shtreimel is always worn over a yarmulke) is considered to add additional spiritual merit, plus the presence of beautiful craftsmanship adds beautification and honour to the custom.[citation needed] Such headgear is worn on special occasions (such as Shabbat), in the synagogue, or by office-holders such as rabbis.[citation needed]

According to Rabbi Aaron Wertheim, Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz (1726–1791) stated that "[t]he acronym for Shabbos is: Shtreimel Bimkom Tefillin - the shtreimel takes the place of tefillin."[6] Since wearing special clothing on Shabbat is a form of sanctification, among the Hasidim of Galicia and Hungary the shtreimel is associated with the holiness of Shabbat, a crown such as that worn by royalty, which enhances and beautifies Shabbat.[citation needed]

Arnon 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, the numerical value (gematria) of the word for life (Hebrew: חי‎), and the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton.[7] Contemporary shtreimlach may include higher numbers of tails. At least one maker creates shtreimelach with 42 tails, symbolizing the 42-letter Divine Name.[citation needed]

Male Orthodox Jews can be highly conservative regarding headgear, and some traditional Jews still wear fedoras or homburgs.[8] Although the traditional Jewish headgear is of Gentile origin and has specific historical and geographical roots, it continues being worn by traditional Jews even when non-Jews in the country of origin have long stopped wearing it.[citation needed]


The shtreimel is typically custom-made for the intended wearer, of fur from the tips of the tails typically of Canadian or Russian sable, beech marten, baum marten (European pine marten), or American gray fox. The shtreimel is almost always the most costly article of Hasidic clothing.[9] It is possible to buy a shtreimel made of synthetic fur, which is more common in Israel[citation needed]. Usually the bride's father purchases the shtreimel for the groom upon his wedding. Nowadays, it is customary in America to purchase two shtreimels: a cheaper version, called the regen shtreimel ("rain shtreimel"), is for occasions when 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. The shtreimel manufacturers (shtreimel machers) keep their trade a closely guarded secret.[10]

Occasions for wearing shtreimels[edit]

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:

Some Hasidic Rebbes wear a shtreimel on occasions when their Hasidim will not, such as when lighting the menorah or when conducting a tish on Tu BiShvat and Lag BaOmer, whereas other rebbes may wear a kolpik on those occasions, and still others simply wear their weekday hat.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph (2009-05-10). "When He Talks Hats, Basic Black is Only the Beginning". New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (1963) Volume 23 page 113
  3. ^ Danna Lorch (17 May 2018). "Shtreimel Styles Are Ruled By Trends As Much As Tradition — Even For Hasidim". The Forward Association, Inc. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Halachos V'halichos B'chasidus, p. 196
  7. ^ Arnon, p.88
  8. ^ "Orthodox Jewish black hat".
  9. ^ Feldmar, Jamie (2011-09-20). "Williamsburg Hooligan Hoists Holy Hasidic Hat!". Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  10. ^ Arnon p.208
  11. ^ Consultation with various rabbis in the U.S. and Israel elicited that, since both vorts and weddings take place only on weekdays, guests may attend in either weekday clothing or "Shabbos wear" including the shtreimel.
  • Arnon, Dan (1995). A Hat for all Season. Tel Aviv: Am Oved. ISBN 965-13-1021-9.
  • Philippi, Dieter (2009). Sammlung Philippi - Kopfbedeckungen in Glaube, Religion und Spiritualität,. St. Benno Verlag, Leipzig. ISBN 978-3-7462-2800-6.