Jul 272011

Most of my customers want a white tallit with black stripes, or sometimes blue stripes or other shades, but recently I encountered a bar mitzvah boy who decided he wanted an all-black tallit. His parents vetoed the idea, saying it was “too extreme.”

And not long ago I had a customer who wanted a custom tallit, all-black with Chabad-style reverse striping.

According to Google statistics, some 200 people search for “black tallit” every month, but I suspect most of those people are actually looking for a black-striped tallit.

Surprisingly, an all-black tallit is nothing new. When I looked into the matter I discovered that in 19th-century Yemen, an all-black tallit called a shamlei was commonly found and I’ve heard it can occasionally be seen to this day on elderly Yemenite Jews in Rosh Ha’ayin.

Gabrieli makes a solid black tallit with gold stripes and Galilee Silks has a few designs.

When asked why she started making solid black tallits, Shlomit Azati told me she started receiving requests for them. “The sharp contrast between dark and light colors allows me to create a classic, dignified look,” she said. “And it provides a fabulous backdrop for strong colors, like red and gold.”

As a result I have created a page with what may be the world’s largest selection of all-black tallits.

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