The Shtreimel

Ever notice those furry, round, and sometimes funny-looking hats you see around Israel- even in the heat of the summer?! This can't just be a fashion statement!


What you are seeing is the shtreimel.

The shtreimel is Hasidic headwear, also known as spodik, and kolpik in Yiddish. The history of the shtreimel is long and somewhat mysterious. Though nobody truly knows how Jews began wearing this furry tradition, the most widely believed option came from the cold climates from which they originated. The Hasidic movement began in Europe, and so most of the furry headwear comes from Poland, Russia, Hungary, etc.


Some believe that it began in Russia when the Czar asked Soviet citizens to choose between German garb and Russian garb. Because German garb was becoming too modern, and many religious Jews made the effort to avoid assimilation, they chose Russian garb- long jackets and large, furry hats. Even when the next Czar came into power, the Jewish community remained loyal to this way of dress, keeping themselves separate and protected from modern-day assimilation.


This headgear is worn by Jewish men on Shabbat, festivals, and other significant occasions like weddings. It is even said that initially, shtreimels also represented social status in addition to making a religious statement because of how expensive and regal they were. The shtreimel is typically made of fur from the tail of either a sable, marten, or American grey fox.


However, due to the rising environmental awareness, regard to animal lives, and the shtreimel's high cost (the real fur hat can run up to 6-7 thousand dollars!), it has become pretty customary to purchase a synthetic fur shtreimel, especially in Israel. Actually, the bill to ban the animal fur trade in Israel has been brought up 16 times, but has never been passed due to the religious background of the matter.


Keep your eyes open for some of these unique furry hats all around Israel. You may even spot one in Tel Aviv!