Ancient Jewish Religious Clothing Customs

Jewish religious clothing customs are a large part of Judaism and Jewish life. Religious Jewish clothing may differ in small aspects from community to community, but in essence, Orthodox Jews have been wearing the same types of ancient Jewish clothing for thousands of years.

There is a Biblical, or Torah commandment for men and women not to cross dress. Therefore, Jewish clothing customs dictate that women not wear pants, and that men not wear anything that could be seen being feminine, such as bright colors or jewelry. Thus traditional Jewish clothing must be different by men and women.

Jewish religious clothing by men

Orthodox Jewish men wear tzitzit, which are ritual fringes that are attached to a garment called a tallit, or prayer shawl, as well as a tallit katan, which is typically worn underneath the clothing. All Orthodox men wear a kippah on their head, and Haredi men wear hats, whose different styles and shapes reveal what sect of Judaism they belong to.

Some Orthodox men always wear a white shirt and dark pants, and some men don't dress this way at all, wearing T-shirts and other types of trousers. Haredi, or Ultra-Orthodox men, wear a white shirt with a black jacket and pants. This clothing style is traditional, and is not required by commandment as the Jewish religious clothing - the tzitzit and the kippah.

Jewish religious clothing by women

Orthodox Jewish women typically wear skirts that cover the knee, shirts that cover the collarbone and shirts that cover the elbow. In some communities, women wear close-toed shoes and socks or tights, though in other communities, these are seen as stringencies. Observant Jewish women who are married will often cover their hair with a snood, hat, scarf or wig as Jewish clothing customs.

Yemenite Jews, and other Jews who have lived in Muslim countries, will have their young girls cover their hair even before marriage, though this tradition has been largely abandoned, especially by those who have left Yemen.

Traditional Jewish clothing has remained essentially the same after all of these millennia. It is said that before the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt when they were slaves, there were only three ways in which they were different from their slaveholders. Those three things were their names, the fact that they spoke Hebrew, and the clothing that they wore. This ancient Jewish clothing was a major factor in what set the Hebrews apart from the Egyptians.

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