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Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Life | 4 comments

On The Waterfront

Grand Ferry Park, Williamsburg. © L. Jamison

Saturday, September 1. Bicycle pit stop by the East River in Williamsburg. Like me, a father and son take in the amazing view.

What I learned that day –
The Hasidic population in Williamsburg is around 55,000. Hasidic Judaism, or Hasidism, is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy.

Black clothes are a symbolic expression. To some Jewish men and women, life is very serious and they are always conscious of their relationship to God. Black is worn to avoid frivolity and also to place distance between the wearer and everyone else.

Orthodox Jews wear a prayer belt called a gartel. It indicates a separation of one’s upper body from his lower body, as the head is the location of all that is inspired. The lower body serves lesser purposes.

Many orthodox Jewish men wear a black hat and some wear a streimel, a fur lined hat. The hat style may vary according to one’s origin sect. Lithuanians, for example, may wear a different head covering than Galicians, although everyone wears a skull cap all day, called a yarmulka.

A yarmulka shows respect for God, and is worn as a symbol to separate oneself from the divine presence by wearing a hat or cap at all times.

A tallit is a Jewish prayer shawl worn by men and women during morning prayer services, on the Sabbath and on holidays. They are used to prepare the mind and heart for prayer and inspire elation and reverence for God. Usually made of wool or linen, tassels are attached at the four corners.

Cultural expression –
Is your clothing influenced or mandated by your heritage or cultural beliefs? Do you or can you incorporate your personal style in one way or another?

Father and son were very kind that day to share some history of their very rich and diverse culture and style of dress. What’s yours? Chime in.


  1. Very nicely done, Leisa.

    • Thanks! My horizons were definitely expanded that day:)

  2. Just looked more closely at photo. Yours, right? Really good.

    • It is indeed. Thanks!

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