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Type of Clothing That Jewish People Wear

Updated February 21, 2017

Jews put on certain ritual garb specifically for prayer, but observant Jews may also cover their heads in reverence for the deity or wear modest clothing as prescribed by Jewish law. Certain sects wear the same clothing that their 19th-century East European ancestors wore.

Head Covering

Most Jewish men wear a skullcap called a yarmulke or kipah during prayer, some for Jewish study, and the more observant all the time. Jewish women in the more liberal movements also may wear a skullcap during services or study, but it is more common to wear a net or a hat.

Prayer Shawl

The tallit is a large, rectangular cloth with tied fringes, called tzitzit, hanging from its four corners. It is worn by most men and some women during morning services and on the evening of Yom Kippur. The tzitzit serve as reminders to perform all the religious commandments. More observant men may wear a different form of tallit, called a tallit katon, as an undergarment at all times.

Modesty

Observant women who are married wear modest clothing and are also required to cover their heads with a hat, scarf or wig.

Special Occasions

Many Jews dress up to attend services on Sabbath and festivals. On the holiday of Purim, Jews don costumes to masquerade as characters from the book of Esther and all manner of imaginative personas.

Distinctive Garb

Certain Hasidic groups and other ultra-Orthodox Jews maintain their identification with their European forebears by following the styles of the early modern Polish nobility. These include a black robe called a caftan and a fur hat called a shtreimel.

Fun Fact

Jewish law prohibits Jews from mixing wool and linen in the same garment, according to Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:9-11.

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