← Back to Joseph Sher

Two Jews

Rachel Sher’s uncles wear the traditional apparel of Chassidic Jews. Their heads are covered in order to show respect for God’s presence. They wear long black coats because the Chassidic movement adapted a conservative style of dress. (The color black is chosen because it show an avoidance of ostentation.) They have long beards because there is a biblical prohibition against trimming certain parts of the facial hair. Also, in Jewish mysticism the beard corresponds to God’s mercy. Under their clothes they were a tallis katan. This undergarment fulfills a biblical requirement to wear fringes, tzitsis, on a four cornered garment. The Chassidic movement began in the 17th century and eventually became prevalent in most of eastern Europe. It emphasized the mystical teachings of the Torah and their accessibility to the common man. Chassidism adopted certain customs and ethics which distinguished it from other kinds of Jewish practice.

Photo Credit: Joseph Sher