I have heard that the shtreimel and kapote (and variations) were mostly worn only by the Rebbes, while most followers were too poor for a beaver-skin hat; most hassidim wore the ordinary clothes of their area (with tsitsis and head-covering).

Also, though most male Hassidim were not clean-shaven, most of them didn't go for the full-on beard but rather less hairy variants.

Of course, the standard Haredi/Litvish getup today, with suit and hat, and sometimes clean-shaven or with a short beard, is fairly ordinary clothing for 1930's Warsaw, so I am not referring to that, but rather to the distinctive Hassidic look.

Or did most Hassidic men really dress in the beaver hat, robe (sometimes striped), knee-stockings, etc.?

  • Beaver would not have been used for a shtreimel, however, it was common for the leading rabbinic headwear of the era: the top hat. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


I found the account (from the 1930’s) below at: http://www.jmberlin.de/berlin-transit/en/orte/lewin.php

In 2000, Zeev Lewin described his childhood in the Scheunenviertel neighborhood of Berlin “We lived in a small apartment on Grenadierstrasse in Berlin, in the middle of the Scheunenviertel, the neighborhood favored by poor Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland. There were dozens of stieblach (prayer rooms), small synagogues, kosher bakeries, groceries, and restaurants. Most of the people wore traditional clothes, caftans, and shtreimel. If it weren’t for the few German shops, you might have thought you were in a small town in Poland.”

I found this at http://www.mchekc.org/resources/survivor_testimony/from_the_heart_profiles/clara_grossman.aspx

The Hercz Family of Nyirbator, Hungary, was Orthodox. On Shabbat and holidays, Armin Hercz wore a shtreimel, a fur-trimmed Hasidic hat.

From http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/kisvarda/kis001.html

Among Kisvarda's Jews there was also a large, active Hassidic community. On Saturdays and holidays one could see them in great numbers walking the streets of the "Klaus" in their caftans and shtreimels.

From http://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/maramures/mar385.html

Among the community leaders of Neresniza between the World Wars, it is fitting to mention in particular Reb Shimon Petenyi, the son-in-law of one of the wealthiest residents of Neresniza, Moshe Klein. He was a student of Rabbi Dushinsky of Chust, and was chosen from among the students there to marry Moshe Klein's daughter. He was born in Donasardali. He made a good living in the grain business, and was the only Jew in Neresniza not to wear a shtreimel [fur hat] and a kaputa [knee-length jacket].

More evidence is needed but the extracts above suggest that many wore chassidic dress.

  • Interesting. I had thought that a shtreimel was very expensive -- even when beavers were somewhat less rare-- and that most Jews and particularly the Chassidim, were very poor. But the evidence you adduce is pretty convincing.
    – Joshua Fox
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 18:43
  • Check out the Wikipedia page - they surely are expensive. But the fur is said (now) to be "from the tips of the tails typically of Canadian or Russian sable, stone marten, baum marten (Pine Marten), or American gray fox." Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 18:51

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