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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Haredi Leader: Wearing a Shtreimel Is Chilul Hashem

Because of the wide public discussion of the need to stop needless pain to animals, wearing a shtreimel today is a desecration of God's name.
Many Haredi men and most Chassidim wear a shtreimel made from animal fur on special days. Will they choose the synthetic alternative to avoid causing needless pain to animals?

Many Haredi men and most Chassidim wear a shtreimel made from animal fur on special days. Will they choose the synthetic alternative to avoid causing needless pain to animals?
Photo Credit: Flash90

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Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim, chairman of Ha’edah Hacharedit, an anti-Zionist faction in the Haredi public in Israel, estimated at between 50 and 100 thousand followers, surprised many on Tuesday when he called on Chassidim to give up their animal-fur traditional shtreimel hats and switch to synthetic fur.

In a conference of animal rights activists, Rabbi Pappenheim, a Yeke (German Jew) who is well respected within the Haredi world, said that the shtreimels are made with disregard to the law prohibiting the causing of needless pain to animals (tza’ar ba’alei chayim).

The shtreimel is a fur hat worn on Shabbat and holidays by Haredi men, especially Chassidim, after they get married. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by “Yerushalmi Jews,” members of the original Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem—from their bar-mitzvah on.

The shtreimel is made from the tips of the tail of sable, mink, marten (weasels), or fox, costing anywhere from one to five thousand dollars–since it takes about 30 animals to make one shtreimel. The synthetic fur shtreimel is more common in Israel than elsewhere.

According to the website RespectForAnimals.com, the fur animals are raised in rows of small cages (2 ft. long by 1 ft. wide and 1 ft. high) and are fed with dollops of paste placed on the top of the cage. Water is supplied by hose and nipple.

Slaughter methods of these animals include gassing (using vehicle exhaust), neck breaking, lethal injection and electrocution (using electrodes clamped in the mouth and inserted in the rectum).

Rabbi Pappenheim said that because of the wide public discussion of the need to stop needless pain to animals, wearing a shtreimel today constitutes Chilul Hashem – desecration of God’s name.

“We live in an era in which people are more stringent and they make a lot of noise about tza’ar ba’alei chayim. So we must stop this custom of hurting animals,” he sais, according to Ma’ariv.

“Some would say that the synthetic shtreimel is not as beautiful,” Rabbi Pappenheim argued, “but I say, do we need to be more chassidish than [mythic founder of the Chassidic movement] the Ba’al Shem Tov? I don’t believe the shtreimels worn by the students of the Ba’al Shem Tov were more beautiful [than the synthetic shtreimels].”

He told his listeners that when his own children wanted to buy him a new shtreimel, he insisted: “I told them, only synthetic.”

Other participants in the animal rights conference included Rabbi Pappenheim’s grandson, Shmuel Pappenheim, and Yehuda Schein of Beit Shemesh, founder of the organization Chemla – an acronym for Haredim volunteering to help animals (the word also means “pity”).

Attorney Yossi Wolfson of the NGO Let Animals Live, and one of the founders of Anonymous for Anila Rights, and Dr. Yael Shemesh of the Bible Studies Dept. at Bar Ilan University.

Despite his support for the synthetic shtreimel, Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim objected to the idea of legislation to promote its use. “I believe in evolution, not revolution,” he said. we should get to a point where people would be ashamed to wear anything but a synthetic shtreimel.”

Schein said Haredi Jews should be at the forefront of animal rights issues, together with secular Israelis.

Israeli Haredi journalist Israel Gelis, who has written extensively on the shtreimel (it began as an attempt by the gentiles to humiliate Jews, which we turned into a badge of honor) told The Jewish Press that the only driving force that could cause a Haredi man to opt for a synthetic shtreimel is its cost: they sell in Israel for about $600.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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45 Responses to “Haredi Leader: Wearing a Shtreimel Is Chilul Hashem”

  1. CpaHoffman says:

    the only chassidim who’ll give up their streimels are the ones who’ll also give up their shabbos chicken

  2. Ch Hoffman says:

    the only chassidim who'll give up their streimels are the ones who'll also give up their shabbos chicken.

    Read more at: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/haredi-leader-wearing-a-shtreimel-is-chilul-hashem/2013/08/22/.

  3. Justa Ju says:

    Why the cynicism? Why not write: Wow, there’s an honest Jewish guy, let’s help him! And if you just want to sit on your fat behind, then at least applaud him.

  4. While I don't respect anti Zionists, I do respect the effort to stop needless pain to animals. Now if we could just get rid of the sportsman hunters we would be in good shape.

  5. Melissa Goodman says:

    And let us not forget the rabbis advocating a cessation to shlug kapparrot … If anything, those observant individuals can provide others with a role model in how we must treat the innocent animals …

  6. It's a hat. Not one thing more.Not special , not unique. Wearing a dead animal skin on your head is the least crazy thing these lunatics do.

    This one is relatively harmless compared to their other self destructive behavior. Like race and ethnic hatred.

  7. Nicky Ferenz-Shaish says:

    I am not a big fan of the Haredi, but whenever it comes to animal rights, for example here the fur hats or the duck stuffing, or how cows are being treated for their milk, they are really trying to do the right thing and to create laws to protect the animals! In this, they are more advanced than a lot of secular people and I truly respect them for it and some people should follow their example when it comes to animal rights!

  8. Nicky Ferenz-Shaish says:

    I am not a big fan of the Haredi, but whenever it comes to animal rights, for example here the fur hats or the duck stuffing, or how cows are being treated for their milk, they are really trying to do the right thing and to create laws to protect the animals! In this, they are more advanced than a lot of secular people and I truly respect them for it and some people should follow their example when it comes to animal rights!

  9. E Yeshiva says:

    I don't understand how anyone who is progressive and modern can be a Zionist

  10. shlomozalman says:

    R. Shlomo Pappenheim is not the Chairman or an Official of any sort of the Eidah HaChareidus. He often likes to issue statements where he is represented as the Eidah, but he does not speak for them.

  11. sue_dill says:

    missmayim it’s about time!! Glad to hear it!

  12. Dan Brook says:

    For more Judaism, animals, and vegetarianism, please visit The Vegetarian Mitzvah at http://www.brook.com/jveg

  13. Cameron Erickson says:

    E Yeshiva because Zionism is the international liberation movement for the Jewish people. Jews are the indigenous people of Israel, and advocating for their return to their ancient homeland is the definition of "progressive" and "modern".

  14. Suzana Michel says:

    I'm glad to hear that there is consideration for the lives of little furry animals. how about being kind to women, Rabbis?

  15. Kol hakavod to Rabbi Pappenheim for arguing that the mistreatment and slaughter of many animals to produce fur shtreimels is a chillul Hashem (a desecration of God’s name).

    I wonder, respectfully, if Rabbi Peppenheim and other rabbis would also consider the massive mistreatment of animals raised for food on factory farms also a chillul HaShem? Just a few examples: (1) Male chicks at egg-laying hatcheries are killed almost immediately after birth, since they can’t lay eggs and have not been genetically programmed to produce much flesh. (2) Dairy cows are artificially impregnated annually on “rape racks,” so that they will be able to continue ‘giving’ milk, and (3) their babies are taken away almost immediately, often to be raised as veal under very cruel conditions.

    What makes the widespread mistreatment of animals even more shameful is that it contributes significantly to climate change, soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, rapid species loss, and other environmental problems, and it creates products that are major causes of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and other chronic, degenerative diseases.

    For information about Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, please visit the Jewish Vegetarians of North America website (www.JewishVeg.com).

  16. enough with the name calling. can we please argue one point at a time…stereotypes have a tendency to get in the way of constructive arguments…

  17. Artemis Gyccken says:

    Cameron Erickson Jews aren't the "indigenous people" of Israel when Judaism is a religion, not a race… Until the mashiach comes, we have no more right to that land than anyone else. Even when the mashiach has come, people of all nations (religions) will worship freely in Jerusalem, which isn't happening in Israel. The truly progressive Jew would be in favor of treating everyone as equals like we're supposed to do, and would call for an end to this anti-Judaism entity that calls itself "Israel".

  18. Artemis Gyccken says:

    Not enough are aware of this, unfortunately. :( To make it even worse, we're brainwashed into thinking the Torah is pro-meat-eating. There are a lot of rabbis who are vegans at least, and a much larger percentage of Jews than people of most other religions are vegan. I happen to be one of them :D

  19. adamboxer1 says:

    richardverber why so surprised?

  20. richardverber says:

    adamboxer1 well, because it’s a big deal! Long-standing custom, and the decision has been influenced by the outside world, which is unusual

  21. adamboxer1 says:

    richardverber he wouldn’t have made the ruling if synthetic wasn’t available

  22. richardverber says:

    adamboxer1 actually my favourite part is the out-of-context quote where Rabbi Pappenheim says: “I believe in evolution”. That’s a headline.

  23. adamboxer1 says:

    richardverber haha don’t push your luck. Maybe one day #WishfulThinking

  24. RichardSchwartz says:

    I am posting this comment at the request of Jayn Brotman, who was not able to post it herself.
    I am ever so grateful to Rabbi Pappenheim for his stance against animal cruelty. I wish that fellow Jews could comprehend that when they turn their backs on animal suffering (and indeed too often promote it) that they become the catalysts for anti-Semitism. Even if a Jew doesn’t “get it” on why animals should be included in the circle of compassion for others, why give gentiles fodder? I am so proud that so many Jews are vegans, and for the Richard Schwartzes, Lewis  Regensteins, and Alex Herschafts of the world. 
    Jayn Brotman

  25. Ch Hoffman says:

    for information about Jews who are more concerned with things they can't change than with those they can, we'll refer them back to you

    A streimel is the least of your concerns; you want to change the eating habits of 5 billion people by your little self-righteous repetition of a dozen screeds that you've managed to combine into a generic "we love animals so we shouldn't raise them" posting.

  26. Ch Hoffman says:

    E Yeshiva because you're an E-yeshiva clone, not a human

  27. CpaHoffman says:

    the only positive commandments in the Torah for which one suffers “Karet” or excision from the people are the performing of a bris and the eating of the Korban Pesach
    To say that Judaism is against the taking of animal’s lives is to invent a new Torah 

    Some people tried that a while ago; they go to churches, not synagogues

  28. RichardSchwartz says:

    CpaHoffman, thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    Would you agree that Jews have a choice of diets? fter all, some Israeli chief rabbis are or were strict vegetarians.

    And, should not our dietary choices take into account basic Jewish teachings on health, compassion, environmental sustainability, resource conservation, sharing with hungry people, etc.?

    Would God want us to have a diet that is harmful to our health, severely mistreats animals on factory farms, contributes substantially to climate change, deforestation, water pollution, and many other environmental problems, uses land, energy, and water very inefficiently, etc.?

  29. CpaHoffman says:

    RichardSchwartz CpaHoffman It’s nice to conflate ethical, pseudo-religious, moral, and health positions to advocate vegetarianism. But for every chief rabbi who was a vegetarian, there were a hundred others who relied on meat as a part of their diets; and for every perceived “cruelty to animals” that you can find on a farm, you will find that the workers who pick lettuce or sort potatoes are no better treated.
    If you think that vegetarian diet satisfies your need to feel morally superior, go right ahead and enjoy your sense of self-satisfaction; to the rest of us, it’s a position which may sound a bit like a “pick-and-choose” to compensate for other areas where you find yourself deficient.
    You can’t solve your ethical deficiencies by worrying about cows, how they’re impregnated, and what is done to fatten their offspring.

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