Sally Fitzgibbons Foundation

Beginning the Academic Essay

There are many subtopics within the topic of clothing in Judaism. This report will discuss and converse the subtopics and the main topic of clothing in Judaism. There is the primary research which is the thirty surveys collected with the information regarding clothing in Judaism and there is the secondary research which is sources from different mediums -such as newspaper articles and the internet- regarding clothing in Judaism as well. There is the subtopic of clothing in Jewish holidays specifically Purim, Passover, and Yom Kippur. There is the subtopic of religious clothing requirements everyday for Jewish men and Jewish women. There is the subtopic of clothing requirements for Jewish people to wear on the Sabbath. Lastly will be the subtopic of clothing requirements to be worn at the synagogue. This report will dovetail the primary research and the secondary research together as well as discuss and converse the subtopic and the main topic of clothing in Judaism.
The survey had eight questions. The first question was if that person thinks that every Jewish person must dress up on Purim . Majority of the people who answered the question answered ‘no’ while only 27% of the people who answered said ‘yes’. The majority of the people who said ‘no’ gave the reason that some people do not feel comfortable dressing up so you can’t force them to or that it is not required by Jewish Law. The other reasons for ‘no’ that were given were that it is not necessary, that they can do what they want, that it’s at persons own discretion, and that dressing up is not important to enjoy Purim. Free choice is a large factor in Judaism. The only time that one should not have exact free choice is when following the Jewish Law. Since dressing up is not a Jewish Law and it is free choice, every Jewish person does not have to dress up on Purim. The reasons given for ‘yes’ were because it’s good to have fun with your ‘Yiddish-keits’ when applicable, no reason given, ‘mitzvas’ Purim, for fun, and if they are able to physically and emotionally to dress up, it is a wonderful thing to do to celebrate the demise of Haman . Dressing up whether in Judaism or not is an enjoyable activity to do. Purim is about joy and a way to celebrate that would be dressing up however it is not required. The secondary research answered why Jewish people dress up on Purim. Jewish people wear costumes for different reasons. It is a reference to the miracle that happened on Purim day. Jewish people pretend to be someone they are not just as in biblical times, God pretended to destroy the nation just as the Jewish people pretended to serve other Gods. Jewish people wear it to lessen the shame of the beggars who go around asking for money on this day. Jewish people honour Mordechai wearing the royal garments. Those reasons are historical reasons while the survey reasons where more modern day. These reasons both survey and secondary research therefore cover the reasons historically and modernly from the past to the present which covers more information. This shows that the clothing in Judaism goes back to biblical times and is still carried on in the present.
Jewish people also have to wear a kittle on Passover and on Yom Kippur . The Kittle (a plain white garment) is worn on Passover to remind the Jewish people of self absorbedness or to remind them of the Kohen Gadol (religious leader and judge) in biblical times who wore this. It is generally a custom to wear this. Jewish people should wear white clothing on Yom Kippur because it represents purity and holiness. Married men often wear a Kittle. The kittle on Passover is custom and tradition while on Yom Kippur it is for holiness and purity. This shows that the kittle goes through tradition and spirituality.

The next question on the survey was to rate on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones. No one selected 1, 3, and 9; 3% selected 2 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones; 7% selected 4 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones ; 10% selected 5 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones ; 23% selected 7 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones; 20% selected 8 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones; and 33% selected 10 on a scale of 1-10 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, the importance of Jewish women covering their knees, elbows, and collarbones . Majority of the people thought it to be the highest importance for Jewish women to cover their knees, elbows, and collarbones. Modesty for women is very important in Judaism and their clothes represent it. It is a Jewish Law for women to dress modestly and cover their knees, elbow, and collarbones. That is why majority of the people rated it the highest importance for women to cover their knees, elbows, and collarbones. The typical daily clothing for women in Judaism is to dress modestly with clothes covering most of their body and married Jewish women must cover their hair. Jewish women have to dress modestly . They have to cover their knees, collarbones, and elbows in order for modesty and sexual privacy. A Jewish woman must also cover her head when married for pride and dignity and also for sexual privacy. The married Jewish woman either covers her hair with a shawl or scarf or a sheitel . It is a Jewish Law for married Jewish women to cover their hair when married . Jewish women thus must not wear bikinis or inappropriate swimsuits as well. By following the Jewish Law and dressing modestly, the Jewish women are showing a sign of respect to themselves and to God.

Jewish men also have requirements of what to wear. The next question in the survey was if a Jewish male should always wear a Yamilkah . 63% of the people said yes, no one said no, and 37% said depending on the circumstance. Majority of the people thought that a Jewish male should always wear a Yamilkah and no one said that a Jewish male should never wear a Yamilkah. The reasons for ‘yes’ were: one must be proud and have confidence; it is a sign of acceptance of a higher authority; it is a necessary reminder to them of God’s existence; because it is a good deed of God; no reason given; any head covering is acceptable; the custom is so widely accepted it’s basically Jewish law; and it gives you the identity of a Jew. The reasons for ‘depending on the circumstance’ were: men can still be religious inside without wearing a Yamilkah; depends on how much he values it and also if the circumstances require it (Shul , business meeting etc.); if they are in huge danger of being attacked then not, otherwise it should always be worn; personal beliefs and for respectful reasons; in/on religious circumstances; not everybody wants to do it; personal preference; if a male is wearing a hat, it is not necessary to wear a Yamilkah as well; no reason given; and non-religious men only wear to Shul. It is important for a Jewish male to wear a Yamilkah as it is Jewish Law and is a connection to God and shows a belief in a presents above. That is why majority said ‘yes’ and no one said ‘no’. There are times when a Jewish male does not have to wear a Yamilkah per se. Even if the Jewish man is not religious he still must wear a Yamilkah as he is still Jewish and must follow the Jewish Law. The Jewish male may cover his Yamilkah with a hat or not wear one at all if he is in danger from anti- Semitism. Jewish men, everyday and during prayers as well, wear kippot or a head covering. Although the everyday clothing of Jewish men is similar to non- Jewish clothing there are certain garments added to the outfit such as tzitzit, kippot (or Yamilkah), and sometimes black suits . The tzitzit are worn everyday especially during prayers. The tzitzit, like the Yamilkah, or important for Jewish males to wear and have a spiritual connection to God. The black suits are optional but are worn to dress formally and graceful in the presence of God. In Judaism a kippa (Yamilkah) is worn by Jewish men and boys. The kippa represent a divine presence above (as mentioned before). Talit (a four cornered garment/shawl generally white and sometimes with black stripes as well) are worn by men during praying. There are many different type of talit. A kittle (a white robe) is worn on special religious occasions.The kittle represents kindness, holiness, purity, and new beginnings. The religious occasions (as mentioned previously) are Yom Kippur and Passover. The talit are also important for the Jewish males to wear. The tzitzit are attached to the talit. Jewish men must also not show too much skin. Jewish men must cover their heads as sign of respect and high regard for God (as mentioned before). Jewish men also have certain garments to wear on certain religious occasions such as Bekishe and a Gartel around it on Jewish festivals, holidays and Sabbath. Jewish men like Jewish women have requirements for the type of clothing they wear. It is forbidden for both Jewish men and women to wear clothing that is a mixture of linen and wool in the materials. Men are forbidden to wear women’s clothing and vice versa. Jewish women are not allowed to wear pants because of the Jewish Law that Jewish women are not allowed to wear men’s clothing and thus it creates a debate on if Jewish women are allowed to wear feminine looking pants. The answer from Halacha states that Jewish women cannot wear pants even if the pants look feminine. Jewish men and Jewish women still want to look fashionable despite the given requirements of Jewish clothing. They can be fashionable even with the required clothing.

There are requirements for Jewish people to wear on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a holy day for the Jewish people. The next question on the survey asked what type of clothing should a Jewish person wear on Shaboss (Sabbath)? The question was divided into at what to wear at Shul and what to wear at home. In the Shul category 80% said Fancy, 3% said Casual, and 17% said ‘Other’. Majority of the people selected Fancy and the least amount of people said Casual. In the Home category 43% said Fancy, 37% said Casual, and 20% said ‘Other’. Majority of the people said Fancy and the least amount of people said ‘Other’. The ‘Other’ specifications for Shul were: dress modestly at Shul; whatever they want; formal; simple and neat; and neither too neither fancy nor too casual. The ‘Other’ specifications for home were: whatever they want; formal; a mix of fancy yet comfortable; simple and neat; whatever will make them experience Shaboss better; and neither too fancy nor too casual. At Shul which is a holy place Jewish people must dress smart especially on the Sabbath, a holy day. At home the Jewish person can either dress smart or comfortably preferably smart as it is the Sabbath which is a holy day. Of course some Jewish people cannot afford to have special clothing for the Sabbath. It is a custom for Jewish people to dress smart and formal and change their clothes on the Sabbath but some Jewish people do not have enough money for smart and formal clothing and to change their clothes. Those people must alter their clothes in a way such as lowering their garments to add length to make it look more dignified. This situation is regarding poor Jewish people whom already do not have fancy clothes or a change of clothes for the Sabbath. The Halacha is to wear fancy, special clothing on Shabbat . The Jewish women should wear the fancy Shabbat clothing before lighting the Shabbat candles. The clothing Jewish people wear on Shabbat should preferably not be the same clothes worn during the week. They should ideally wear four white garments. The main factor is that the Jewish people must look neat and smart on Shabbat. The fancy clothing is to celebrate the holy day and to dress appropriately and formally for God. The clothes should be special for the day. Clothes that are bought in the week before Sabbath should be worn for the first time on Sabbath. No ironing, mending, washing etc. may be done on the clothing on Sabbath. Clothing should be formal and modest. While formal the clothes must be comfortable as well. Jewish people are not allowed to tie a bow/knot on the Sabbath. However dressed up they must be depends on their community. It is recommended that Jewish women should wear a long, comfortable robe that looks like a dress to wear at home . Thus comfort, modesty, change of clothes, and formality are the requirements for the clothing for Jewish people to wear on the Sabbath.
The next factor regarding clothing in Judaism is the requirements for the Jewish people for clothing to be worn in the synagogue. The synagogue is a holy place in Judaism and the clothing worn there should correspond to the holiness. It is holy because that is where the Jewish people pray to God. Since it is a place of holiness and a place of God the clothing must be appropriate. There are certain dress etiquettes to display the clothing worn there. Jewish men wear head coverings. Jewish men over the age of 13 wear talit. Jewish men should dress smart in a clean shirt and long pants. Jewish men should also preferably wear a jacket and tie. Jewish married women and older unmarried women should cover their hair. Jewish women should dress modestly. Visitors should cover their heads and could wear talit but non-Jewish visitors should not wear them. The head covering usually is and must be a Yamilkah. The modesty and formal clothing is a sign of respect in the place of holiness and the place of God. The clean shirts, long pants, jacket, and tie are formal clothes and thus are worn. The main clothing item that Jewish men usually wear in a synagogue (excluding the Yamilkah) are suits. Non- Jewish visitors do not have to wear the religious pieces of clothing as they are not Jewish and do not have to follow the Jewish customs. The hair coverings (as mentioned before) are a sign of modesty and privacy which is important for the place of worship. Jewish people must wear formal pleasant clothes as it is the place of God. Children can generally wear play clothes. Men and women should wear nice clothes. Men and boys must wear a Kippah or cover their heads in some way such as a hat. Bar- mitzvahed boys should wear a tallis. This as mentioned before joins the two sources as both of the sources display the same message of formality and dress requirements. The first source of clothing in a synagogue is regarding the etiquette of clothing in a synagogue and the second source regarding clothing in a synagogue is the dress requirements. Both are generally the same but the first source is more specific. The children can wear play clothes as they generally do not go into the synagogue to pray but rather stay outside and play. Once they are not children any more (over the age of thirteen for boys) they go inside the synagogue to pray and thus must follow the dress requirements. There are certain regards to the type of head coverings and shawls to be worn by the Jewish people at the synagogue. All Jewish people must wear hats in the synagogue (except unmarried women). It shows their admiration to God. Once unmarried women reach a certain age they too must cover their hair in the synagogue. Jewish men always cover their head when saying a prayer that mentions God’s name. Observant Jewish men cover their head most of the time. The generally worn hat in a synagogue by men is a small round cap called a Yamilkah or a kippah. Any type of hat is usually accepted. Jewish men over the age of thirteen wear a talit or a prayer shawl in the synagogue. The hats or Yamilkah for men represent a sign of a presence above namely God. Both the boys and the men any age must wear a Yamilkah or a head covering. That is important in a place of worship as the Jewish people are worshipping God. The main clothing for Jewish men and Jewish women to wear in the synagogue are formal clothing for both the Jewish men and Jewish women, modest clothing, Yamilkah and tallit for the men, and Jewish women either married or over a certain age must cover their hair.

The surveys and the sources dovetailed together to provide descriptions and opinions on the type of clothing to be worn in Judaism. On Purim it is optional to dress up and Jewish people may have a better time celebrating the holiday if they do dress up. The kittle is worn on Passover and Yom Kippur, Passover for tradition and custom and Yom Kippur for holiness and spirituality and purity. There are clothing requirements for both Jewish men and for Jewish women, some for both. Married Jewish women must cover their hair. Jewish women must dress modestly and even Jewish men cannot dress immodestly. Jewish men must wear a Yamilkah and tzitzit and must wear tallit when praying. They must both not wear a mixture of wool and linen and must both not wear each other’s clothes. There are clothing requirements for the Sabbath mainly formal clothes, new clothes, and modest clothes. There are clothing requirements for the synagogue. The Jewish men must wear a Yamilkah and tallit and formal clothes. The Jewish women must wear modest, formal clothes and Jewish women who are married and Jewish women over a certain age must cover their hair. Indeed clothing in Judaism goes through many subtopics within the main topic of clothing in Judaism.

References:
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