Blue stripes are very popular on tallits, not just among bar mitzvah boys, but for adults as well. Recently we received an inquiry from a Russian groom in Germany who asked for advice on how to choose the right blue-striped tallit. I'm pasting his questions and my reply here, because I think it might be helpful to a lot of people.
In about one month from today, I am to get married in a small town in Germany and I am still looking for a proper Tallit not only for this special day, but also for the next decades of my life.
I was born in Odessa, Ukraine so I am Ashkenazi, however I have some roots who are Sephardic. Nevertheless, I consider myself as a traditional, Ashkenazi Jew.
By looking on your page and all the details and options to consider, I am basically lost and would need some guidance/recommendations :)
I really liked the following ones: Bnei Or Blue Medley, Blue Stripes Prima A.A. Tallit, Maalot Sky Blue, Acrylan Blue & Gold Tallit and the Tabor Tallit.
The price range varies and the choice is hard to make. Basically, I need a Tallit in size 50, which comes with a bag.
Please be so kind and advise me on which one of the above would be your #1 and #2 choices and why? Which tzitzit and which tying should I select? Thank you for your help with this, Ilja
I congratulated Ilja on the upcoming wedding, and then wrote a few words about each of the blue-striped tallit options he mentioned:
Bnei Or Blue Medley - This is a very popular tallit, but it's fairly modern with a lot of color, and I'm wondering if a year or two down the road you might want something quieter.
Blue Stripes Prima A.A. Tallis - This is a classic.
Maalot Sky Blue - This is almost the same as the blue stripes, except that it has a lot of light blue as well, and it has the blessing embroidered on the atara (neckband).
Acrylan Blue & Gold Tallit - Not recommended. Acrylic does not look as nice as wool (all of the other tallits mentioned here are wool) and does not last as long. It's only recommended for someone who really cannot afford a wool tallit.
Tabor Tallit - This is like the blue stripes above, except that it also has silver pinstripes and the fabric is textured, not smooth.
(All of the above can be seen here.)
Hand-spun tzitzit are considered preferable to machine-spun from a halachic perspective. Thin or thick is just a matter of personal preference. If your father is Ashkenazi (and/or your rabbi), you should choose Ashkenazi tying.
A lot of people want the bag to match the tallis, but it really isn't necessary. There are a lot of other bags that would work well with a blue-striped tallis, for example the Jerusalem in Blue, Jerusalem in Light and the Shema Yisrael.