If it's Friday, this must be an Orthodox Jewish question

Place: New York. Time: Thursday evening, July 27. It’s been in the 80s all day and muggy as a locker room. Skies gray toward sunset, hinting at a classic dog-day-evening thunderbumper.

As ever in a Gotham summer, the sensible dress lightly; the serious dress as usual, darkly and heavily, with p. This includes businesspeople, goths, rockers, iconoclasts and kooks of one kind or another, and, of course, certain of the most observant Jewish folks.

Now IANAJ, but I’ve put in my time as a tie-and-coat over the years, and I can see a certain dogged decorum in Keeping That Jacket And/Or Hat On regardless of the heat. If I can do so in the name of style, they can certainly do so in the name of the Almighty. *But…*and here’s what I don’t get.

I board the 42nd Street shuttle at about 8:30pm this sweltering night, and see a lovely young Orthodox couple, he in regulation black-and-whites, powder-blue tie and high-crowned snap-brim precisely 90° to the horizontal, she in seemly straight bangs, long dark skirt, high-denier hose and tastefully nondescript footwear. He carries a folded pocket umbrella, and both of them carry long raincoats with the extra warm linings left in! ON JULY 27, may I remind you!

I mean, WTF?!?! (F=Frum, of course.) They’ve got the umbrella. Why the coats? More to the point - why the linings?!

Is there any religious or cultural insight I’m not aware of that might specify, or even encourage, such a practice?

Yes, some New Yorkers do wear pee. But I wanted to type “with preference toward the color black.”

AFAIK, from what Orthodox Jews here in Cleveland tell me, the ultra-Orthodox Haredi Jews always dress in “black and whites” because they could meet their maker at any time. It’s the religious version of “always wear clean underwear, just in case” - if you should get hit by a bus, you want to look your best when you meet the Almighty.

Of course, as with most Jewish customs (religious, that is), this has probably been debated in depth among rabbis, justifying the tradition based on previous writings, based on even older writings, based on statements in the Talmud, which are based on Biblical law.

Maybe–but the bottom-line question is that if you’re going to carry a raincoat in the hottest time of the summer, is there some edict that says that you must leave a zip-out fur lining in it so as to not only be warm beyond reason but to be abjectly miserably hot? Does orthodoxy require suffering? :confused:

Or missing the point? :wink:

I’m an Orthodox Jew, and I have to say I’ve never heard of this as a general practice, religious or otherwise.

Maybe they had just arrived on the bus from the Catskills or were on their way to catch a bus to the Catskills. In fact, maybe they were going there for the weekend…rain is predicted for much of this weekend (7/28-30/2006, for you later readers of this thread).

Just to clarify my line of thinking…it was a Thursday Evening, and the 42nd Street shuttle runs by Port Authority.

I’ve seen orthodox men around here in summer wearing big fur hats as well as long black coats when in was over 40C.


Yes, but those clothing items are special Sabbath finery, which they consider the only thing to wear that’s properly respectful of the holy day (or other fancy occasions). The coat described by the OP doesn’t sound like those.

Oh, OK so the flat brown fur hats are only for the Sabbath? Is there a distinction as far as who would wear those? When I was in the waiting room at NYU Med Ctr I saw some gentlemen wearing these, but some who continued to wear the typical black hat from all week.

Yes, Hasidim only wear the fur hat (“Streimel” in yiddish) on Sabbath, Holidays, or for special occasions like weddings. Only married men wear them, in fact, when my brother, who turned Hasidic, got married, it was a big deal that before the wedding, he went to his Rebbe and the Rebbe put the Streimel on his head and gave him a blessing.

Non-Hasidim do not wear the Streimel, we usually wear an ordinary black felt hat.

Perhaps they’re expecting a cold front in the hereafter.

You’ve touched on one of my pet peeves about men’s business suits–when you take off the coat you’re just wearing slacks, shirt, and a tie, and look like you might be working in a hardware store. Without the coat, the suit ceases to be a suit and loses virtually all of its visual impressiveness.

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I do know that I saw an Orthodox dad & son at the Cubs game a couple of weeks ago. It was hot as heck…maybe in the mid to high 90s (I was in the shade and my clothes were soaked with sweat from just sitting there). Anyway, said dad & son were wearing black pants, white short-sleeve dress shirt, and the typical hat. No sign of a heavy raincoat at all.