A kittel, sometimes spelled kitl or kitel (in Yiddish קיטל), is a white robe that serves as a burial shroud. It is also worn on various special occasions, primarily by Ashkenazim.
A Jewish kittel is also often worn by married men on Yom Kippur and some have the custom to wear it on Rosh Hashana as well. Wearing a kittel on the High Holidays symbolizes purity, based on the verse "our sins shall be made as white as snow" (Yeshayahu 1:18).
Buying a Jewish Kittel for Yom Kippur
On Yom Kippur the kittel is worn as we stand before G-d with the Books of Life and Death laying open, as we prepare to accept the divine verdict. The kittel serves as a powerful reminder of the solemnity of Yom Kippur.
Many Jews also wear a kittel as head of the household when leading the Passover Seder.
In some congregations the cantor/shaliach tzibbur wears it during certain special services during the year, such as the first night of Selichot, Hoshanah Rabbah (the final day of Sukkot), Mussaf of Shemini Atzeret and the first day of Passover.
There is also a widespread custom for the groom to wear a kittel on his wedding day.
The white color symbolizes purity, paralleling the bride and the start of their new life together.
Finally, the dead are buried in a kittel. Because halacha dictates that the dead are buried with nothing in the coffin except for simple linen clothes, a kittel has no pockets.
On Yom Kippur our prayers focus on life, but within the context of our awareness of death. And with that knowledge we can turn every day we are granted life on earth into a time of blessing and fulfillment.