Hasidim, Uniforms
Hasidim

With all of StyleLikeU, we seek to expose how what one wears on the outside reflects who one is on the inside. With our Uniforms feature, we focus on groups of people whose style is in direct accordance with their beliefs, exploring what it's like to blend into your own culture but stand alone from society at large. In the past, we've produced Uniform videos on nuns, monks, and ballerinas. Now, we're excited to share with you our latest of the series on the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.  From the fringes of the men's tzitzit, to their seminal fur and fedora hats, to the tefillin leather strap that they wrap around their arm in order to hold Torah verse close to their hearts, to the elegant and unostentatious taste of the modest dress of the women, the Hasidic style is wrought with a royal, spiritual depth that screams of a long gone fashion of substance.

In response to the fact that I go wholeheartedly into everything I do -- completely motivated by passion and instinct-- someone said recently to me that I am not naive but pure. And, yes, I guess I am a "pseudo-journalist" (as someone referred to me when the first Hasid trailer was posted) in the sense that I approach things viscerally and not with an agenda. So be it… I am all about the power of intention. And my intention with this piece (as with all StyleLikeU pieces) is to shine the light on what I find to be beautiful and compelling in this all-too-often empty, ordinary, and money-driven world.

After a few heartfelt long phone calls and meetings with the brave souls of this video (who have never done anything like this before), explaining why StyleLikeU would be over the moon to do a feature on their style and what's behind it, Lily, Ramona, and myself were on route to the Catskills for a 12-hour odyssey that would change us forever. Until this moment, I assumed that the Hasidic community had about as much to do with me (a reform and rebellious Jew) as the Pope. But, like the Pope, I am drawn like a bee to honey to a style that is dripping in history and commitment to its underlying, rich traditions. As the day unraveled, not only did I begin to identify with some of my own life values, but I found a new group of the coolest people I had met in a long time, who were about to become my new great friends.

It felt like stepping onto a new planet to be around people who did not have their noses in their phones 24/7 and who were more curious about me than I was about them (if that's possible). Committed to helping their neighbors and free of a preoccupation with sensational, pop culture, the Hasidic individuals who I  have gotten to know have invited me and my family over and over again to their sabbath dinner, where we will be stuffed with six or seven courses and hang out for hours. The big families, the sense of belonging to an extended community, and the reverence for the female body, mind and soul, were among the eye-opening and thought-provoking revelations, especially as on our way home from the Catskills, we reached the East Village at 2am where drunk, barely-dressed girls were going in for the conquest of recreational sex that night, as if it were a badge of some kind of mindless honor.

By no means do I feel as if the Hasidic community has all of the answers any more than I think any person or group does. All groups (just like the individuals who comprise them) are flawed and have imperfections with which I might disagree, but that does not diminish the beauty and humanity that they also possess and that I see in them. By opening up a dialogue and breaking the chain of demonizing people because they're different, my perhaps naive but definite hope is that there can be a coming together, healing, and enlightenment for all.

xo,

Elisa

This video was edited by Adaeze Elechi
Shot and interviewed by Elisa, Lily, & Mona

Watch the trailer 

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  • Neil Davies

    Thank you…X

  • T. K.

    Beautiful and informative...great !

  • Glo

    Interesting and informative. I appreciate that!

  • Jayanti

    Very informative! Lovely!

  • AJ

    i love how the screenshot of this video has them lined up like that with bank of America in the back round. I wish this site and the creators of this site many blessings and much success from a like minded creative from California.

  • ml78

    Beautiful.

  • Chaya

    This is really beautiful! Definitely something worth sharing.

  • Chaya

    I usually cringe at these looks inside my culture. This one stands apart. Thank you for letting Orthodox Jews speak for themselves. Great job.

  • Sharon

    very nice
    But as someone who knows Chabad very well, this couple and his wife do not represent Chabad at all. They could have really chosen much better

    • AF

      Maybe the Chabad you know is not the Chabad unto itself.

    • lubavitch

      Absolutely false everything about that couple is very chabad. I'm chabad and that's exactly how cabad is.

      • chaim

        Chabad isn't portrayed in "the Hecht family." Listen to his music and you will see, this isn't chabad is called hipsters. Chabad chassidus demands more from its chassidim.

        • Moshe

          Chabad, like Judaism, have many faces.

          • Grammer Police

            Has.

          • atp

            Grammar should be 'grammar'.

        • Mimi Hecht

          Chaim, listen to his music and you will see? Thats the most hilarious feedback on this video yet (and hence the first time I am actually responding to a comment in relation to this feature). Apparently, the depth of Moshe's music and how congruent it is with the Rebbe's vision and our Chassidic teachings went way over your head. But that's okay, because Moshe's music is inspiring thousands who actually DO understand poetry and NEED inspiring metaphors to be enlightened and inspired to what being Jewish and Chassidic even means. You really should develop your artistic side before you entitle yourself to making statements about the "Chabadness" of Moshe's music. #dontmesswiththewife

    • We could nitpick but overall this was really good!

    • Moisheh Pipik

      Jewish people do not represent Judaism. Chabad people do not represent Chabad. We all represent only ourselves.

      • Alana

        What a great sentiment Moisheh! I wish that people of all faiths, nationalities, and races would remember this about all groups. Thank you for posting

  • susqhb

    Fantastic. Thank you!

  • Flavor Lounge

    Excellent! Excellent!

  • Shlucha

    They do NOT represent chabad!!!!

    • they represent some of chabad. Why nitpick?

  • Michael

    Wonderful insight into a beautiful way of life

  • Chabad Girl

    The Chabad couple might represent some Chabad people in our community but certainly NOT the Chabad standards we aim to uphold ourselves to. While they were warm and spoke eloquently the other interviewee Bronya, who sat beside a modest test beautiful daughter, better portrayed our Chabad culture and dress. In fact, even during the week when the black long coat is not worn, a nice dark suit is the traditional dress for a Chabad Chassidic man. On Shabbat, the long coat is worn but I have never seen shades worn with...so that would not be a good representation. As well, for the record, TV viewing (and certainly having one) is contrary to all Chabad tradition and beliefs and standards. As a reflection of Chabad dress, speech and lifestyle, perhaps another couple might have depicted our group better.

    • Chabad Guy

      For the record, she didn't say that she has a TV - she said that she knows what's going on on TV, which is entirely different. I would say that not every Chabad couple is the same, I think the Hecht's are very colorful in style and did a great job. It is true that many couples dress more black and white, but I can understand the editor's need for contrast. Overall, really outstanding

    • George Naftali Muenz

      I grew up in Chabad. Mind you this was a fewyears ago;. There was way too much focus back then on "looking the part" then your character, so much for the uniformity of dress allowing for focus on character. However, I was drawn to all these people, more or less "frum looking" A bekeshe and shtreimel don't make the person.

      I really liked this video, made me miss some of the richness of that world. However, it seems that in some of Chabad, never mind the Satmar or the like, it's still about how you fit the exterior mood than the internal character

    • Miriam

      I would say that having internet access is not particularly Chabad either!

  • Wow. I am seriously impressed by this. A really accurate portrayal for the most part!

  • Former Chabad

    The couple interviewed represents a lifestyle existing within Chabad. Imagine a priest wearing different clothes, that wouldn't be accepted, while the young couple are accepted. Besides, no one ever mentioned them to 'represent' Chabad...
    Elisa was able to capture a range of orthodox facets in clothing, and let those individuals talk freely and genuinely about how they experience daily Jewish life. The questions and relation she was able to construct with them was definitely well done, we need more peeks into the privacy of the Orthodox Jewish world in that way!

  • Tova

    Two Jews, three opinions! Thank you for additional insight into what appears to be a wonderful way of life. I love that you have the strength of community and are there for each other. I lived in NY and Baltimore as a Reformed Jew and now live in Montana. Yes, there are Jews in Montana! I am here to tell you that it is not as easy to raise a Jewish daughter in Montana as it is in NY or Baltimore.

    I am pleased to tell you all Jews are commanded to teach our religion to our children and I am thrilled to tell you I know we have succeeded. I watched her lead services at Hillel at Vanderbilt and at Har Shalom in Missoula MT. and am so proud of her. She has the voice of an angel and has chosen to keep Kosher and that too is difficult in MT. I know some Orthodox Jews who do not think Conservative or Reform Jews are really Jewish enough. To that I say,... . I feel as Jewish as an Orthodox Jew, follow Torah as best as I can, given our world is so very different than the Judaism of thousands of years ago. My daughter is closer to a Modern Orthodox person than a Reformed person and how that happened is still a wonderful mystery to me.

    We sent her to a Reform Jewish camp in NY when she was a teenager and that was a life changing experience for her. I feel closer to G-d in MT than I did in either NY or MD. There, I was able to participate in a congregation. Here, I have been the treasurer and President of a congregation. That happened because we are so small and someone had to do it. It never would have happened for me in NY or MD. Instead of complaining we roll up our sleeves and get it done. And no, it is not the way it is depicted in this beautiful film, but never the less it is a Jewish way of life that includes praying to G-d every morning before getting out of bed, at meals, etc. I am so thankful for my Judaism, my community of Jews, and the Stone Edition of the Chumash I am presently spending my time studying. Each year, I have read a different translations of Torah, being not educated enough in Hebrew to study it in Hebrew. I love that we have the strength of community and are there for each other. What a blessing!

  • cajunwoman

    thank you so much for this wonder insight into your lives in God. I envy that and wish i had the same upbringing and your love of God is so pure. my heart is filled. God bless your community and families.

  • Boruch Hoffinger

    Superb!

  • Ian Kobi Cooper

    I love it. Just a few small notes: Not all the Jews wearing black and white are Hasidic. One of the interviewees mentions that offhand. It's funny that in an entire movie about Hasidic Jews, the screenshot chosen is likely of non-Hasidic Jews, a background shot of some men crossing a street. The general difference is that traditionally Mitnagdim/Litvaks/non-Hassidics have short jackets to their waists and the Hasidim have long jackets (usually worn on Shabbat), and hence the wrap/belt around the waist. What I felt was missing, however, is that within these groups there are 100's of different groups - which was shown representatively here - but what is fascinating from a fashion standpoint is the small minute details in their dress that identify the wearer as belonging to such-and-such groups from hats to stripes to socks up or down, etc. We got a touch of that in explaining the streimel vs. the Chabad hat, but that was it. Finally, I believe that someone said something about wearing this outfit back to ancient times (in his own words); that is true for the tallit and tefillin but not the black and white clothes or the hats or even the modern kipa/yarmulke. Much of that is from the 18th c. in what the fashion was where these streams developed.

  • Leibel

    Interesting how, not withstanding that they don't seem to be the "average Lubavitcher", the Hecht's nevertheless seem to have so much more depth of meaning and explanation for the Jewish way of life than you'll typically hear, even from the other interviewees.

  • nao

    Well i was upset at first I was at a wedding and someone was there taking my shots it invading privacy but from the other side u did have a lot of positive stuff I wonder what hassidic means to you cuz not everyone in that movie is called that including me but again I like positive films and I want to know how u got Ur chutzpah to come into my close family wedding and take random shots

  • threeofknow

    This was pretty cool ^.^ Lots of good hats.

  • Sefira

    I'm a little shocked that there were some negative comments left on such a positive video.... Personally, I loved this. So many inspirational thoughts were shared! thank you for putting this video together. It should not matter who is more *true* chabad (the concept doesn't even exist in its philosophy) and all comments on such is just ignorance and judgement. We are all human beings, each trying to live a more meaningful life. Whether one wears black and white or pattern colors is all trivial to The One Above.

  • Paulmogg

    This great... Well written and well shot and edited who produced this video ?

  • Aram Mushegian

    still dont quite understand how it is that they settled on a style of dress from 19th century europe

  • LeftWingPharisee

    It always amuses me when secular people discover Chassidish and Yeshivish people are fully formed human beings, with all the nuance of other people, even though they play the game of life by different rules. That said, very nice, very respectful.

  • zivaramrami

    i found your website a few months ago and have been entranced and devoted to witnessing your path ever since. it is beautiful, you are sharing something so important and with such artfulness and compassion. i am so grateful to witness all of it. and especially tonight, on shabbat, i am nourished by this gem about chassidic jews. i grew up chabad and while i am no longer living 'inside' the community, so many of the values and artistic endeavors that i've explored along the way were seeded there.

    thank you, thank you.

    zivar amrami

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