The tallit, (also pronounced tallis depending on dialect) or Jewish prayer shawl is a religious item worn during prayer by Jewish men in orthodox and traditional circles, and also by women in more liberal Jewish movements.
The tallit is such a cool, exotic-looking visual-shorthand for "Jews Doing Jewish Stuff" that it tends to get used indiscriminately in TV, film, comic books and other visual media, almost always incorrectly.
Many Orthodox Jewish men do wear an undershirt-like garment called the tallit katan (or "small tallit") at all times to fulfill the Biblical commandment to wear a "fringed garment." But a tallit katan is not a full-fledged tallit, and is not visible except for small fringes which dangle from the beltline.
In most mainstream Jewish denominations and sects, the full tallit is only worn during weekday morning prayers, during morning Sabbath and festival services in synagogue, and on a few other very specific occasions. Even in synagogue, the tallit is only rarely worn during afternoon or evening services, and it's virtually never worn for most other religious observances. In some ultra-Orthodox communities, traditionally a man does not even own a tallit before he is married. (There are some sects which encourage their members to wear the full tallit all day long, but this is a very uncommon practice.)
Contrary to many media portrayals — and with the marginal sects noted above possibly excepted — you'd never see a full tallit worn:
- At a funeral.
- At a wedding, except by the groom or, in some denominations, wrapped around the couple at one point in the ceremony.
- While lighting Chanukah candles.
- During a Passover Seder.
- While celebrating Israeli Independence Day or any other secular/cultural Jewish event.
- By a rabbi, just because he's a rabbi.
- By a cantor, just because he's a cantor.
- By an Orthodox Jew, just because he's an Orthodox Jew (marginal sects, again, excepted).
- In a 1970's Justice League Chanukah/Christmas story, a man is shown lighting his Chanukah menorah while wearing a tallit.
- Peaky Blinders: While Alfie Solomons does wear it correctly (with only the fringe visible), he wears it at times that are incorrect (the Passover seder in 2.05 amongst them).
- Web animation This Land is Mine shows Jewish immigrants to the holy land wearing Tallit while fighting with Arabs over the land. https://youtu.be/-evIyrrjTTY?t=2m26s
- In January 2016, Swedish clothing company H&M are in trouble over marketing a scarf which is, in the eyes of some, like enough to a tallit to be blasphemous. Read more here.