Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jews in Palm Springs--Understanding Hasidic Judaism

There is a large Jewish community in the Coachella Valley, many of whom are Hasidic.

The number of Jews in the Coachella Valley, 32,000, makes it one of the largest Jewish communities in the United States. In Palm Desert anywhere from an eighth to a quarter of the population is Jewish.

The breadth of the Jewish community in and around Palm Springs extends from the mostly secular to the strictest of the orthodox, the later of which is the least understood.   Among the Jewish people of the Palm Springs area, are the Hasidic Jews , a people who are deeply religious and conservative in dress and culture. 

Covering the entire body is the norm for both Hasidic men and women, no matter how hot it is. Men wear heavy hats of rabbit fur and long black coats, women, long sleeves and skirts dangling around their ankles. 

Last summer in an article about Hasidic Jews, the New York Times writer, Joseph Berger, proposed that many New Yorkers probably ponder the question of "How in the world do they they stay cool?"

Berger reported that they are used to it. "The Hasidim will tell you they have learned to live comfortably in all seasons with their daily attire," he wrote.

The image above, taken on the Sabbath, reveals the man wearing a shtreimel (שטרײַמל), the tall hat that is part of the holy day's observance, which is marked by rest and relaxation.   

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