If you decide to buy a tallit on Amazon, you might find a good bargain, but it will limit your options. I get the impression those who buy a tallit on Amazon are primarily Christians who practice “Messianic Judaism” and are looking for a cheap tallit in the under $50 range. These are invariably synthetic. In fact often they are not such a bargain because wholesale prices for synthetic tallits are 30%-50% less than for a wool tallit, but prices for bottom-end tallits on Amazon may not be that cheap. For instance, most of our wool tallits in a Size 24 sell for around $40. An equivalent synthetic tallit on Amazon should cost around $25. Of course you should keep in mind that you get what you pay for: a wool tallit lasts longer, looks better, and is preferable according to halacha.
As a tallit seller I may be a bit biased – but I cannot fathom why anyone who takes a tallit seriously wouldn’t want to shell out another $15 to get a decent tallit. If you’re only wearing it once a week, a wool tallit can easily last for 10 or 20 years.
If you find a very low-priced tallit posted on Amazon, before you reach for your credit card be sure to compare sizes. A Size 24 tallit, for example, uses half the amount of fabric as a Size 50 tallit, which makes the difference in price considerable.
Three reasons not to buy a tallit on Amazon
When should you not opt to buy a tallit on Amazon? One of the main reasons to choose an online tallit shop on Amazon is if you have specific options in mind. Amazon tallit sellers won’t offer tzitzit options, such as thick tzitzit, handspun tzitzit, techelet, Chabad tying, Sephardic tying, etc.
Similarly, if you want a tallit bag to go with it, you’ll want the full-service options available at a tallit shop. Some people want a name embroidered in Hebrew or English on a tallit bag. You won’t get that if you buy a tallit on Amazon. (BTW, letter embroidery should not cost more than $2 per letter.)
Although not every online Judaica is set up to provide a range of services, a good tallit shop will also be able to accommodate special requests, such as sewing on a different atara (neckband) to the tallit of your choice, or even choosing the striping colors on a handmade tallit.