This is fairly simple:

Growing up in the US, the only white robes available for wearing during Rosh haShannah and Yom Kippur are standard kittels. I have heard that the kittel worn in Germany prior to the Shoah (called a sargenes in Western Yiddish) is quite different.

What are the differences between the Eastern Kittel and the Western Sargenes and what does the latter look like?

  • FWIW I remember seeing pictures that the Lubavitcher Rebbe wore a pull-over kittel, more similar to tachrichim in that it doesn't have buttons, and without any design on the garment. Aug 18, 2017 at 1:32
  • @Efraim, I wonder if he needed to get it custom-made. Chabadniks I've met wear regular kittels of he variety worn in the US and Israel. Aug 18, 2017 at 1:55
  • 1
    Where I come from the Sargenes was put on over the head and has no pockets, buttons or frills. Jun 20, 2018 at 12:22

2 Answers 2


This question was asked at kayj.net. The answer was:

The original sargenes is similar to the tachrichim, closed from the front and from behind, and is put on over the head


I grew up in Alsace (France) which is geographically and culturally close to Germany. Definitely Yekke land. I only heard about Sargeness as a child.

For what I can remember it is mostly the same: a while long fabric robe with a belt and long sleeves which is a reminder or the burial shrouds (or maybe the actual burial shrouds that will be used after 120 years, to be checked). The sargeness I knew where made of a thicker material and with more lace than the kittel I know. But that might be because they were not made in China and sold for 20 shekel in Mea Shearim.

This http://catalogue.mahj.org/collec.php?q=1&o=16 photo is from the collections the Paris Jewish Museum. It does not quite look like what I remember but it might just mean my father was wearing a different type.

  • Alsace is considered Germany for liturgical purposes. They follow similar customs to what was historically followed in Frankfurt a/M Oct 19, 2016 at 15:24
  • I assume there were also no pockets, like on normal kittelach.
    – ezra
    Mar 20, 2017 at 22:39
  • @ezra, not as far as I'm aware. I've never seen a kittel, sargenes, or tachrichim with pockets. Aug 21, 2017 at 2:33

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