Appropriate clothing for Israel.
What is appropriate clothing in Israel’s in religious and secular communities, summer, winter and all year round? What clothes should I pack?
Hebrew: לבוש מתאים לישראל
Visiting Israel or making Aliyah: you need to decide what kind of clothing to pack. If you are relocating or making Aliyah from a country with a very different climate, your existing clothing may not be suitable or appropriate for your new lifestyle. Before you decide what to pack, we’ll discuss the different clothing traditions in different communities.
Jewish religious clothing
The Jewish community is made up of the Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox and Secular. Each community has a different dress-code, standards and restrictions.
Hasidic dress and the (ultra) Orthodox community
In the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox community, women wear very modest clothing. Clothing does not accentuate their figures. Shirts, blouses and dresses come right up to the neck. Skirts are long, covering the knees and often even longer, above the ankle. Head coverings for married women are mandatory (hats or wigs). Pants, tight skirts, sleeveless and backless dresses, slits and minis are forbidden. Clothes are generally in basic subdued colors; black, dark blue, grey and brown and white for festivals and celebrations. You will not see an Ultra-Orthodox woman wearing bright colors or clothing that attracts attention. You will not see an ultra-religious woman wearing high or stiletto heels; mules, flats and sports shoes are more common. Women always wear stockings and young girls wear either stockings or long socks. Even in the summer, the Ultra-Orthodox stick to their dress codes and just replace heavier fabrics with lighter fabrics.
Ultra-Orthodox men mostly wear black coats, jackets and pants with white, button down, cotton shirts. Their heads to are covered either with a black hat or a kippah (skullcap or yarmulkah). Their shoes are black. At some festivals and celebrations that may wear a white or golden frock coat.
Clothing for main-stream Orthodox Jews
The Orthodox Jewish Community’s dress code is a little more relaxed. The women follow the same modest dress code but do not restrict themselves to subdued colors. They wear head coverings too; hats and wigs but some also cover their heads with colorful scarves. Orthodox men wear modest clothing too but do not necessarily restrict themselves to black and white. Their heads are covered with a kippah which could be basic black or crocheted from a multitude of colored yarns.
What do secular Jews wear?
Pretty much anything goes. Take note – if you are a member of the secular community and are visiting a religious Jewish family or community, you should be respectful of their lifestyle and dress modestly.
Dress codes for other religious groups and communities in Israel
Traditional Moslem, Arab women are also modestly dressed. They may wear a long dress or a long-sleeved tunic over pants and a scarf to cover their heads. In parts of Jerusalem and some outlying villages, you may find the women dressed in black and some may even wear a burka. Modern Arab women wear modern clothing.
Within the Druze community in Israel you will see men in black wearing traditional loose pants and clothing. Women wear black or dark clothing with white scarves covering their heads.
Israel’s Christian community, and members of the Bahai community in Israel all wear modern clothing.
Different seasons in Israel, different clothes
You will need different clothing for each of Israel’s 4 seasons.
Clothing for Israel’s spring months
Although there are many warm days in March, April is officially the start of spring in Israel. By May the temperatures are more stable and it gets warmer every day. So what to pack and what to wear? Layer your clothing. Cotton pants, T-shirts, jeans, dresses, skirts and perhaps a shawl, a thin jersey or long sleeve for cooler evenings.
Dress for the hot and humid summer
June, July, August and September are hot, very hot and incredibly hot. Shorts, vests and strapless. If it is cool and comfortable, wear it.
Comfortable Autumn days and cool nights
October is autumn in Israel. Day-time temperatures are pleasantly comfortable and the humidity levels drop. Anything goes. Some evenings may be cool and long-sleeve T’s or a light wrap is appropriate.
The Israel winter months – how cold does it get?
Israel’s winter months are cold and rainy. Warm undies, long-sleeves, warm jerseys, fleece, coats, scarves, hats and gloves. Winter shoes and boots for the rainy days are essential.
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In public and state schools, Israeli children wear uniforms to school. In secular schools, mainly jeans and T-shirts (with the school’s emblem) in the summer as laid out in the school’s rules. In winter, sweatshirts and warm pants in accordance with the school’s rules and regulations.
Religious schools require that girls wear skirts and that their elbows be covered. Conservative clothing in dark fabric is required of the boys.
Different cities and communities in Israel have different dress codes
Jerusalem has large religious communities of all faiths and many holy sites. Be considerate and respectful – dress modestly when visiting the sites. Tel Aviv; the financial capital of Israel is a modern, cosmopolitan city with a mainly secular population. Millions of people work there every day. Corporate dress codes are far more relaxed in Israel. Generally executives only wear business suits for very important meetings or events with clients from abroad. Casual clothing is acceptable and some companies even allow open necked shirts, T’s and Bermuda shorts in the summer. This casual dress code applies to other cities and towns as well. If you are going to be living on a kibbutz, make sure you have lots of casual clothing. You may only ever wear a suit on your wedding day and even then, most kibbutzniks don’t. Walking around the kibbutz in a pair of comfy slippers – even to the communal dining room – is not uncommon.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of who wears what and where, you can pack the appropriate clothing in your suitcase or container for your vacation, relocation or Aliyah shipment.