Shtreimel or “hat,” mid-twentieth century, Polish, possibly mink, gift of Catherine Ann Taylor Miller, 1945.2.162.
This fur hat is known as a “shtreimel” in Yiddish. The shtreimel became adopted by Eastern European Jewish communities in the 18th century with the creation of Hasidic Judaism which wears the shtreimel more often than any other Jewish group. The hat was used primarily in for the religious act of head covering, but can be worn specifically for Jewish holidays. Most shtreimel‘s are made of thirteen tail pelts to symbolize the unity of God since there are thirteen letters in the Hebrew word for “One.” However, some have been known to contain twelve pelts to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. While the origin of the shtreimel are unknown, many suspect the design may have come from Tartar influence.