Tallit fabric: Light vs. medium weight and thick

16th Feb 2021

About once a month we get an inquiry from someone looking for a lightweight tallit (and sometimes for a heavy tallit). Here's an example:

Advise please: Tallit. Prefer less fabric as in a 36" width because I have thin shoulders, humid climate in New Zealand. Prefer lighter physical weight, less formal. I do love your Tashbetz Black-Striped Nonslip Tallit because it's non-slip, elegant and non-yellow (whiter color) but concerned about the heavy drape of fabric.
Thanks, Clive

I've never understood this so well. Places with a hot climate typically blast the air conditioner all summer, to the point where some people bring a sweater to shul.

For a few years I davened Shacharis in a an early-morning minyan where the gabbaim didn't set the air conditioner to come on, because they figured it couldn't be too warm at 6:00 am. Well, it was. I suffered throughout the summer and dreaded pulling my Tallit over my head. So I "bought" (from myself) a Prima Lite tallit, which is marketed outside of Israel under the name Feather Lite Edition Tallit.

I was quite happy with (still have it, in fact) because the lightweight fabric really was cooler in the heat. It also does a good job of staying in place on my shoulders since the thin material contours well. And finally, I liked how it folds up very compactly.

The most popular tallit in the Mishkan Hatchelet product line is what we call Hamefoar, which is marketed in Israel under the name המפואר קל. The "Kal" in the name means lightweight. But probably it's popularity comes primarily from the textured fabric designed to minimize slipping.

Medium weight tallit

Which tallits are considered medium weight? I'd say the Prima, Keter, Tashbetz and all of the standard wool tallits. So are the Chabad and Yemenite tallits. 

Heavy weight tallit

A customer recently wrote to us: "As I live in a rather cold country I'm looking for a woolen tallit, preferably heavy and durable quality." The talleisim that immediately come to mind are the Echt Turkish (aka Tunis), the Kmo Turkish and Hamefoar Prestige.

Echt Turkish - extra heavy, fabric is about 20%-30% heavier than standard tallit + lining adds a bit of weight
Hamefoar Prestige - slightly heavier than standard tallit + lining adds a bit of weight
Kmo Turkish - also slightly heavier than standard tallit + lining adds a bit of weight; smooth weave instead of slightly textured weave of Hamefoar Prestige

I have a hunch the man in the photo below, taken at the Kotel at dawn on 6 Adar 5781 (18 Feb. 2018), would also appreciate having a thick tallit in his wardrobe.

Snow at the Kotel in Jerusalem