For Orthodox Jewish men, the hat known as a Borsalino is tops

Religion News Service | 4/9/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — The bar and bat mitzvah ceremony is usually followed by an elaborate celebration and windfall of gifts. But many 13-year-old Jewish boys covet just one item: a hat.

The head covering preferred by Orthodox Jewish boys and men especially is a stylish black Italian fedora known as a Borsalino. It has a hoiche (high crown in Yiddish), a noticeably wide brim and a $325 price tag. That’s due in part to its unique construction. This is not a mass-produced hat.

Process - Weeks - Hat - Steven - Goldstein

“It’s a very complex process and it takes about eight weeks to make one hat,” said Steven Goldstein, owner of Bencraft Hatters in Brooklyn, New York. “What separates the Borsalino from just about all the other companies is that they start out from the beginning and produce their own felt bodies and they can control the quality and the stiffness from the start.”

Bencraft is the largest retailer of Borsalino in the world. Goldstein said he sells “quite a few thousand” each year, many of which are gifted to a boy after he is called to the Torah.

Boy - Bar - Mitzvahed - Step - Manhood

“When a boy turns 13 and gets bar mitzvahed, it’s a step to manhood and one of the rituals is that he gets a new hat, sometimes two — one for weekdays and the other for the Sabbath. And usually the one for the Sabbath, if the parents can afford it, it’s a Borsalino,” Goldstein said.

The Borsalino is considered the Cadillac of fedoras. Harrison Ford wore it in the various Indiana Jones movies, as did Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca.” So did Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill. More recently, celebrities from Johnny Depp to Rihanna and Madonna have sported it.

Hat - Alessandria - Italy - Company - Giuseppe

This special black hat has been made in Alessandria, Italy, since 1857, when the company was founded by Giuseppe Borsalino.

The hat’s quality and meticulous 52-step handmade...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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