Before you set out to buy a prayer shawl, you’ll want to know what kind of tallit prices to expect.
A synthetic tallit is the most inexpensive tallit available. A tallit made of wool or cotton costs significantly more. It also looks better and lasts longer. From a halachic perspective, wool is preferred, although other materials are also acceptable. Occasionally you will find a handcrafted tallit made of cotton (e.g. on our Handmade Tallits and Yair Emanuel pages).
Tallit Prices: Size Counts
Another important factor affecting tallit prices is size. Here there is an important distinction. Some Reform and Conservative Jews wear a narrow tallit that wraps around the neck and hangs down in front. This type is made of considerably less material, making tallit prices significantly lower. Typically these are only 18, 24 or 36 inches wide, which makes for a relatively inexpensive tallit (except in the handmade category).
If you look at a tallit sizing chart, you’ll notice the widths suddenly jump from 24 or 36 inches to 44 or 48 inches. You have now entered the realm of traditional tallits, which are worn in front and drape down the back as well. When you cross that size gap, tallit prices also jump up about 30% since it is made of two or three times as much material.
Another factor is workmanship. A handwoven tallit made at a weaving studio costs much more than a basic synthetic or even wool tallit made in a factory. Sometimes you can find relatively inexpensive tallit sets that look like handwoven tallits, but are not handmade.
Various options will also raise tallit prices. Most tallits are sold with machine-spun tzitzit. The tzitzit should always be tied by hand, but according to some halachic opinions, the strings used do not have to be spun by hand. If you would prefer hand-spun tzitzit, expect to pay another $10-$12 and possibly a tying fee.
Opting for techelet tzitzits will raise the cost of your tallit significantly. The Radzyner techelet costs an additional $25-$40 while the Murex trunculus techelet (Ptil Tekhelet) generally costs at least $60-$90, depending on the tying custom and thickness – a major expense by all accounts, but which some people will not forgo.
Other Tallit Options
Some tallit buyers want a special atara with fine embroidery, metal tiles or custom artwork. The starting price for a specialized atara is around $30.
Other tallit options include a cotton/polyester lining and reinforcement strips, which typically cost about $10 each. Finally, some tallits (e.g. Beit Yosef Sephardic Tallit, Turkish/Kmo Tallits and premium wool tallits) are available with double-knotted or netted fringes, which add up to $40 to tallit prices.