The NYTimes recently ran an interesting story on how “Hasidic Jews” dress during the summer months. Or more aptly, the article titled “Dressing with Faith, Not Heat, and In Mind” described how they don’t really dress differently during the sweltering summer months. Just thinking about the topic makes me feel a tad toasty, so stay cool out there! Lastly, I'm "surprised" the article didn't mention anything deodorant... ;-)
|Oy Vey! via Flickr|
Key excerpts provided bellow:
Some New Yorkers who are not Hasidic surely ask themselves: How on earth do they stay cool?
The answer is a mix of the spiritual and, yes, the creatively physical. The Hasidim will tell you they have learned to live comfortably in all seasons with their daily attire.
“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.” “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.
Still, Hasidim have found subtle ways to beat the heat.
In Borough Park, women snatch up neckline-hugging shells that allow them to wear thin, long-sleeved and open-necked blouses from, say, Macy’s. Hasidic men seek a frock coat made of lighter-weight, drip-dry polyester, without a shape-holding canvas lining, and lightweight weaves in the fringed, four-cornered, woolen poncho known as tzitzit, a daily version of the prayer shawl that is worn over a white shirt. Also, men will go jacketless when working or driving, though any substantial stroll along a public sidewalk requires a suit jacket or frock coat, known in Yiddish as a rekel or in its longer and fancier Sabbath version as a bekishe.
Even 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.
“The equation of burden doesn’t come into play, when that’s the tradition you’re brought up in,” said Amram Weinstock, 65, a Satmar Hasid who was shopping at G&B Clothing in Borough Park, a store with racks of suits, in numbers to rival Brooks Brothers, although these suits come only in shades of black, navy blue and gray. “We are happy to live that tradition and feel uplifted by living that sort of life,” Mr. Weinstock said. “This is how our parents went; this is how our grandparents went.”
“You shvitz!” the man said, using the Yiddish word for sweat. But his “what’s the big deal?” expression seemed to shrug off the problem as a piddling price to pay for a virtuous lifestyle.