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A shtreimel (Yiddish: שטרײַמל, pl. שטרײַמלעך shtreimlech) is a fur hat worn by many married Haredi Jewish men, particularly (although not exclusively) members of Hasidic groups, on Shabbat and during Jewish holidays and other festive occasions. In Jerusalem the shtreimel is also worn by 'Yerushalmi' Jews (non-Hasidim who belong to the original Ashkenazi community, also known as Perushim). The shtreimel comprises a large circular piece of velvet surrounded by fur. The shtreimel is generally worn only after marriage, except in many Yerushalmi communities, where boys wear it from their bar mitzvah.
The most widely seen shtreimel is typically worn by the Hasidim of Galicia, Romania and Hungary and was worn by Lithuanian Jews up until the turn of the 20th century; Hasidim from Congress Poland wear a high shtreimel (often called a spodik).
The shtreimel is usually made of genuine fur, from the tips of the tails, typically from Canadian or Russian sable but also from stone marten, baum marten (Pine Marten) and American gray fox. The shtreimel is the most expensive article of Hasidic clothing, ranging in price from US$1000 to US$5400. It is possible to buy a shtreimel from synthetic fur and this is more common in Israel. Usually the bride's father purchases the shtreimel for the groom upon his wedding. Nowadays, it is customary in America to purchase two shtreimels: a cheaper version (sells for $800–1,500), called the regen shtreimel (rain shtreimel) is used for occasions where the expensive one may get damaged. In Israel, due to the economic circumstances of most members of the Hasidic community in that country, the vast majority of shtreimel-wearers only have one shtreimel. The manufacturers of shtreimels can be found in New York City, Montreal, Bnei Brak and Jerusalem. The shtreimel manufacturers (shtreimel machers in Yiddish) keep their trade a closely guarded secret .
The shtreimel is only worn in conjunction with other pieces of clothing which comprise 'Shabbos clothing'. The shtreimel is never worn with weekday clothing. While there are no formal rules as to when to wear a shtreimel, it is usually worn on the following occasions:
- holidays including: Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Shemini Atzeret, Purim, Pesach, Shavuot;
- on (Chol HaMoed) of Pesach and Sukkot;
- on the evenings following the end of the above-mentioned days;
- at one's own wedding, or at weddings of family members, or weddings of a member of the family of one's Rebbe;
- during the seven days following one's wedding, or of the wedding of one's close family members (sheva brachot);
- at a brit milah.
Some Hasidic Rebbes will wear a Shtreimel on occasions when their Hasidim will not, such as when lighting the Hanukah menorah or when conducting a tish on Tu B'Shevat and Lag B'Omer, whereas other Rebbes may wear a kolpik on those occasions, and still others simply wear their weekday hat.
The shtreimel may have begun as a matching item for a lapelled fur lined coat known as a 'peltz', however the peltz went out of favor. .
While there is strong religious custom for Jewish males to cover their heads (compare kippah), there is no special religious significance to the shtreimel as opposed to other head coverings. Although Arnon, Dan. A Hat for all Seasons. does assert that the number of furs used in the manufacture of the shtreimel has some significance. Common numbers are 13, 18 and 26 corresponding respectively to the thirteen attributes of mercy, the numerical value (gematria) of the Hebrew word for life (חי) or the numerical value of the tetragrammaton.
Male Orthodox Jews can be highly conservative regarding headgear, and some traditional Jews still wear trilbys or homburgs and in France tricornes or in the UK top hats. Such headgear is worn on special occasions (such as Shabbat), in the synagogue or by office holders such as rabbis and even where non-Jewish people in the country of origin have mostly stopped wearing them. After Napoleon conquered Poland in 1812 most Polish people adopted western European dress, not the conservative Jews who kept the old style including the shtreimel .
It is possible that the shtreimel is a derivative tradition based on the shaatnez prohibition. Since Hasidim originally avoided wool or linen altogether and tended to wear cotton or silk instead this meant they were less protected from the cold Eastern European weather, hence they compensated with fur .
- The Green Shtreimel, a fixer, detective and talmid chacham (wise and learned Jew) may be visited at 
- ↑ Blumenthal, Ralph (2009-05-10). "When He Talks Hats, Basic Black Is Only the Beginning". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/nyregion/10hats.html?_r=1. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
- ↑ Arnon, Dan (1995). A Hat for all Season. Tel Aviv: Am Oved. pp. 208. ISBN 9651310219.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Arnon 1995, p 88
- Philippi, Dieter (2009). Sammlung Philippi - Kopfbedeckungen in Glaube, Religion und Spiritualität,. St. Benno Verlag, Leipzig. ISBN 978-3-7462-2800-6.