These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem


Posted on October 24, 2011 by Shibley

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I would venture a guess that the majority of jobs throughout the world have some sort of uniform. Whether said uniform is mandated by the employer, it is simply practical, or it becomes a matter of identity, the fact is that such a uniform exists in most cases. Israel is no different in this regard; however the Israeli uniforms can often identify religious affiliation or lack thereof.

For example, the Hasidim wear a long coat, identifying the sect of Hasidut to which the individual belongs. Knickers, white socks, black socks, and the variety of hat also provide identifying information. For women, the wardrobe is dark colors and very simple. Most of these women do not wear a colorful head covering.

The “regular” Orthodox are best identified with their black fedora, often a dark suit, white shirt, tie, and flowing tzit-tzit. Women might wear more fashionable items, perhaps with more color and variety. The kippot of the Orthodox and Hasidim are typically black velvet.

The “modern orthodox” or “dati leumi” wear khakis and a button down, or polo, best identified by the knit kippah that often sits slightly to the side on top of the head, tzit-tzit are sometimes flowing. Women in this group like layers and more colors. The “settlers” might dress similarly, however their kippot often cover more of the head, and they may be dressed more casually.

There are several other uniforms amongst those whose Judaism is central, I am acknowledging them but I will not go into detail. The final profile: the non-religious. There are variants here too. Many tight tee-shirts, skinny jeans, European style shoes. The women are less concerned with modesty, and their dress reflects that.

Please make no mistake, this list is not meant to be a value judgment on any group, nor is it meant to be exhaustive. Instead, I just wanted to point out the diversity in religious expression, as well as the relative ease by which people can be identified simply by their clothing. Yes, there are plenty of exceptions, but the fact that all these uniforms can exist here is certainly a testament. To what? not sure. As long as nobody is wearing a belt with suspenders and a bowtie, or a patterned shirt with a patterned tie, the dress should not matter, what should matter is continuing to build a unified State even as we wear different uniforms.