White after Labor Day? For Israelis, it’s a big yes!
Jews around the world are preparing for Rosh Hashanah – beginning at sundown on Friday, September 15, 2023 – and for many Israelis both secular and religious alike that means getting out their favorite white shirts, kippahs, or all-white outfits.
Learn more about this beautiful holiday tradition and what the color white means in Judaism below!
White is also a popular color to wear on shabbat, secular holidays like Independence Day or mourning days like Yom HaShoah, and on special occasions such as one's Bar Mitzvah.
While light colors can be undeniably more comfortable for Israel's hot weather and endless sunshine, and reflect the more casual character of Israeli fashion, there is also a deeper meaning: White is a profoundly symbolic color in Judaism, commonly associated with special occasions and meaningful Judaica like the tallit. Israeli Jews have taken the color's importance quite seriously - which you can read more about in the next section below!
Naturally, Israeli cultural practices come from Judaism. And white is a symbolic color in Jewish tradition, representing purity, God's mercy, and the soul.
This makes it a both a fitting color for occasions associated with a fresh new start like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and weddings, as well as for mournful commemorations of the souls of the deceased, such as Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s memorial day for fallen soldiers). Some Israelis even wear white at funerals for this reason!
There is also a Kabbalistic tradition to wear white on shabbat, as it's seen as a color of joy. This view has inspired a lot of even non-Kabbalist Jews in recent decades, and has extended into wearing white on holidays and other joyful days as well.
It's not uncommon for some Jews in certain diaspora communities to choose white on shabbats and holidays as well, especially on Yom Kippur - but Israelis really take this tradition seriously!