Have you ever noticed the difference between one Hasid’s hat and another?
Michael Levin hadn’t either—until he moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 2007 and met his new neighbors. Levin, who was raised secular, was fascinated by the astounding 19th-century stylings of the Hasidic community, and set out to both understand and capture the atypical dress code.
“I’d simply never seen anything like it,” said Levin. “I had no idea of the magnitude and reality of a Hasid as a living, breathing entity.”
Six years later he published Jews of Today, a masterful collection of drawings that explores the “nuances and contradictions of Hasidic ritual dress.” The drawings range from realistic to fantastical, and showcase the various sartorial proclivities of the South Williamsburg Hasidic community in which Levin is based. The illustrations are accompanied by Levin’s explanations, which attempt to explain elements of Hasidic culture.
So if you ever visit Williamsburg and walk through one of the largest Satmar communities in the world, be sure to bring a copy of what Levin describes as “the world’s only illustrated primer on Hasidic dress.”