Hasidic Jewish hats

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Lotsahats, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. Lotsahats

    Lotsahats One Too Many

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    1,367
    On occasion the question of Jewish hats comes up, and since an off-topic post I made in a different thread generated a little interest, I'll share more here. Ignore it if you want; ask me any questions you want. :)

    Realistically, when we're talking about black hats worn by Jews, we're talking only about the most Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox groups; the largest Jewish streams in the United States, Conservative and Reform Judaism have no tradition of hat-wearing, and even the Modern Orthodox generally do not wear hats (beside the kippah, or yarmulke, the skullcap men tend to wear).

    For most of us, the broad-brimmed black fedora is the one that causes the most, "Hey, are you Jewish?" responses.

    [​IMG]

    Tending to be 3"+ in brim, these black fedoras are not uncommon in traditional Orthodox communities or among a group of Hasidim called Chabad Lubavitch. They tend to be Borsalinos or Huckels (or other non-specific Czech/Polish hatmakers), and they're just fedoras. Mine's a Borsalino with a 3.5-ish" brim. A hat like this will set you back anywhere from $100-$400.

    [​IMG]

    You'll notice the wide brim and a relatively high crown; brims tend to have a pretty good snap in the front, although they can be flanged any way you'd like.

    Next, let's look at a type of hat called a "hoiche" or high-crowned hat. "Hoiche" is Yiddish for high. Most Hasidim wear a higher hat like this, with only a few of the courts favoring the lower-crowned "flacha" style of hat ("flacha" is Yiddish for flat).

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You can see here the long nap of the felt and the stand-up bound-brim:

    [​IMG]

    This one is made in China and imported through Brooklyn. The hat is really, really stiff, more like a bowler rather than a fedora. These hats are made to sit higher on the head than a fedora might, so keep that in mind if you're ever thinking of getting one. The resting line on your head plus the hard felt means they're not forgiving size-wise.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You can see how the ribbon cuts into the nap of the felt, making it look like a belt almost. The flacha hat is very similar, but with about 2" of crown taken off. These hats will run you $50-$200.

    The final hat you might have seen or heard about is called a shtreimel. These are very furry, very special hats usually only worn by the Ultra-Orthodox, and only on Friday night into Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, or on Jewish holidays.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Made of fox fur on the outer round part and on the inner part, the shtreimel looks like a crown, according to some stories. Between the inner fur and the outer fur is a firm band of felt on to which the outer fox fur is placed to give the hat shape and structure. The inside, you can see, is a sort of velvet-felt combination.

    [​IMG]

    Shtreimels are also worn higher on the head than a fedora. If you get one new--which I most certainly did not--you'll pay anywhere from $1500 to $5000 for one of these hats. Used ones come up occasionally on auction sites.

    [​IMG]

    Remember, most Jews in the U.S., and indeed, non-Orthodox Jews throughout the world don't wear hats like these--or hats at all, truth be told.

    So there you go! Hope that helps, and if you have questions, please feel free to let me know.

    A
     
  2. moehawk

    moehawk I'll Lock Up

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    Thank you! I'm always happy to learn about cultures other than my own, and especially when it clears up any misconceptions I may have had.
    I had always thought that the hoiche was a homburg. But, not having grown up in a hat era, and coming from a small town without much in the way of worldliness, probably a common mistake.
     
  3. JackieMatra

    JackieMatra A-List Customer

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    Thank you for the information, and the photographs of the (originally) multi-thousand dollar hat.

    I have always been curious as to how one keeps a wide-brimmed hat on one's head in a breeze if it is worn so high on the head.
    Either a really tight fit or glue are the only ways that I can think of.
     
  4. alanfgag

    alanfgag

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    Great summary Aaron... thank you!
     
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  5. miket5r

    miket5r A-List Customer

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    Thank you for the explain of jewish hats, Aaron. Very new and good information.
     
  6. rocketeer

    rocketeer Call Me a Cab

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    Actually I have been looking for a topic like this :) so this is most interesting as I am from a non Jewish background. I always wondered about the fur hat as I thought it was a Rabbi's or church officials hat.
    Please don't take this as an insult but 20 years ago I was on bus travelling through Golders Green on a Saturday morning with my young son. Spotting a small group of boys his age,(probably 10-12 years old) in the black long coats and fedoras he asked me why the boys were dressed like gangsters as we had just watched Buggsy Malone. Unfortunately I could not answer his question and especially about the man in the big fur hat.
    Fast forward 18 years, I bought my first modern fedora and put it on with an overcoat(not black) and he asked me in all innocence if I had become Jewish.
    So much for a non hat wearing society.
     
  7. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    Thank you for the overview! Does the nap on the "Hoiche" go in any particular direction? I know TONAK makes Velours for the Orthodox markets but not sure about this style although likely. It would be interesting to know the felt fur content and source for this Chinese made hat.
     
  8. Lotsahats

    Lotsahats One Too Many

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    The hoiche and the shtreimel are heavier than other hats, but you have to hold them on with your hand, especially if you're a non-standard oval. :)

    Ha, no worries! It is an image, for sure, in most people's minds, like a uniform. You see a guy in a Marine uniform, you assume he's a marine, so you see a guy in that Jewish uniform, it stands to reason. :)

    The nap seems to follow the counter-clockwise lay of fur felts. I'd love to know, too, about the sourcing, but there's a tendency among these hat makers to be a bit tight-lipped. I wonder if Besdor has any insight to offer.
     
    deadlyhandsome likes this.
  9. dh66

    dh66

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    Thanks for this extremely interesting and informative post. I live in an area where the Jewish population is decidedly non-orthodox, so these types of hats just aren't seen.

    Sent from my XT1030 using Tapatalk
     
  10. shrek

    shrek Familiar Face

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    near albany ny
    Beautiful hats thank you for sharing your knowledge and pics.
     
  11. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn I'll Lock Up

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    Fascinating explanations and pics, Aaron, thank you! I have been to Israel several times and loved it. Although I wasn't into hats at the time, they still fascinated me. And having seen the Shtreimels, I have long hoped to get an explanation of them. And now I have, thank you!

    I have long wanted to own one of the high crowned Borsalino Hassidic hats and I finally got one off Ebay last year, from Israel (I remember that you had some for sale a couple of years ago when I had no money). Now I just need to get a new sweatband on it.
    Here are some pics of those trips:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Bamaboots

    Bamaboots I'll Lock Up

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    Thanks, really enjoyed that.
     
  13. Joao Encarnado

    Joao Encarnado I'll Lock Up

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    hmmm.... I can pass as a jew...
     
    hatsRme likes this.
  14. moontheloon

    moontheloon I'll Lock Up

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    great breakdown

    I know Bencraft in Brooklyn gets a good chunk of its business from the hasidic or orthodox jewish community in that area ... I'm not completely familiar with the proper terms so please forgive my ignorance

    if I am not mistaken they supply one of the stores that sells all the orthodox gear with hats from time to time

    I have been there when one of the fellows with a beard wearing the Tzitzit came in and was taken upstairs to get a stack of black wide brim hats

    I always admire how well dressed they are from the old grandparents all the way down to the children

    I occasionally get mistaken for being jewish by them ... though I am not nearly as well dressed
     
    hatsRme likes this.
  15. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Fascinating post, thank-you. I saw schtreimels being worn in North London recently, on my way out on the bus. I knew we were passing through a very Orthodox area (even if there are no people around, you can sometimes tell by the cars. It's a quirk of the UK market that there are very very cars on sale here that have the headroom for Orthdox headwear, so they almost all drive a particular model of Volvo. I didn't quite believe it until I saw it!), but I didn't realise that what I now know to be a schtreimel was only worn on those particular occasions. Really interesting insight.
     
  16. AndyR

    AndyR One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    Illinois
    I pass through an Orthodox neighborhood near my sisters house, so I see lots of fedoras. Once while walking, I was tempted to say, "Nice hats gentlemen", especially since one fellow had one on that fit him perfectly. Some look too tall for the wearer IMHO (speaking 'strictly' from a style point of view and nothing more).

    Anyway, I refrained from commenting, since I was not sure how it would be perceived. So in your opinion, would the comment have been appreciated or taken the wrong way?
     
  17. Lotsahats

    Lotsahats One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,367
    I love how respectful and considerate everyone on the Lounge is. You guys are great!

    Love those pics, Blackthorn. The first picture shows a couple of Orthodox youth wearing the fedora and typical mens' suits like you'd see anywhere. You can see in the second picture that the men are wearing fedoras, but the hats are not creased or pinched, and the brim is up all around; by their earlocks--payos--and their long frock coats, chances are these Hasidim. In the third picture, these Hasidic boys are wearing shtreimels and the Sabbath coat called a Bekishe.

    Edward, what a fascinating observation about cars!

    As for "looking" Jewish, it's pretty much only from outsiders that you'd hear this comment. A styled beard or longer hair will be an instant indication to those in the know. :)

    A
     
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  18. JackieMatra

    JackieMatra A-List Customer

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    Thanks for your answer to my earlier question, Aaron - "you have to hold them on with your hand".
    I was rather hoping that there was actually some useful "secret" there that you might reveal.

    Now for some serious "weekday" hat questions:
    1.It appears that particular sects all wear nearly identical hats in regards to style, shape, dimensions, ribbon, edge, flange and bash. Who determines this? Is it actually written down somewhere?
    2.Do all of the weekday hats always have a bound brim edge?
    3.Why only black? Is this actually written down somewhere by someone, as well?
    4.I have heard, and the photographic evidence that I have seen seems to support this, that the fashion of wearing wide-brimmed "fedoras", as seen in your first two photographs and by the two young men in Blackthorn's first photograph, only dates from approximately the late 1940s. Is this definitely so, and, if so, how did this particular "fashion" get its start?
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
  19. hatsRme

    hatsRme I'll Lock Up

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    Super job, Aaron! Thought I'd add to your wonderful compilation with this article about "Jews and Their Hats" from an even broader perspective...

    Zie Gezundt, Y'all!!
     
  20. mayserwegener

    mayserwegener

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    Yes I can understand. I will have to check some of them out. When I visited Tonak I saw black Velour hats being made for the Orthodox market. They also make hats under the Hückel mark. This is a big part of Tonak's business.
     

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