I returned from NYC today and thought of too many questions to impose upon a Hasid just walking down the street, even though they might have been flattered and fully willing to talk about it.
When was it decided that all Hasidic Jewish males would wear black suits and hats? By whom?
I noticed that the males all wore what looked like the same brand and make of hat, except for one elderly gentleman who wore more of a fedora-styled cap. Are they encouraged to sport that specific style of cap?
Why do they tip the hats back on their head?
Are they allowed to wear sunglasses? If yes, are any particular styles forbidden(i.e. Oakley Razorblades/ terminator style)?
Thanks in advance.
It’s strictly traditional. Most Hasidic Jews are Ashkenazi Jews (ie from Europe) and more specifically from Eastern Europe. The dress they where is specific to what dress they
wore in the shtetl (Jewish ghettos) back in those times.
Religous Sephardi Jews (whose descendants are from the Middle East/Spain/Israel) also wear darker coloured jackets etc, although I remember seeing the Chief Sephardi Rabbi in a sort of embroidered gown once on TV.
And for the non-Hasidic/non-frum (strictly observant) Jews (both Ashkenazi and Sephardi), it’s wear whatever everyone around you wears.
The Hasidic style of dress (long black coat, round felt hats during the week and round ones of fur [streimels] for the Sabbath or holidays) come from the way the Polish noblemen dressed in the 1600’s and 1700’s. There are subtle differences in dress between differing sects; some wear thin white socks for the Sabbath/holidays, while some wear long coats with white and gold stripes.
Many observant Jewish males will wear a black hat (or gray, or brown); some wear them all the time whenever they go out, others will wear them only while praying. How an individual wears his hat often depends on the yeshiva (post-high school religious training and study seminary) he went to. If you look closely, you’ll see that some people wear their hats tipped back, while others wear them tipped forward with the yarmulka underneath showing out the back.
Black (or dark) suits are worn by many individuals because they want to stay conservatively dressed, and don’t want to join in with the many clothing trends that may not be terribly modest.