I Mean, Really, How Often Do You Look at a Man’s Shoes?

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins tonight with a somber service called Kol Nidre. Then for the next 25 hours or so, many Jews like me will be attending services and fasting to atone for the sins we (and all Jews) have committed over the past year. Fasting on this holiday involves refraining from more than just food and drink, however. For example, we’re not supposed to “anoint ourselves with oil” either. It’s hard to give that up, but I manage. We are also supposed to abstain from wearing leather. I’ve always liked that custom. During Yom Kippur we’re supposed to think about how we’ve hurt others, even the cows that were made into our shoes.

The problem is I only have one pair of nice shoes and they’re made of leather. Even my gym shoes are made of leather (I think.) I have some rubber sandals that I wore to synagogue in college, but they wouldn’t pass muster with my mom so I always end up wearing the leather shoes.

Not tonight! After Yom Kippur last year I decided I’d get some kicks that weren’t made of leather for precisely this purpose. I got some weird hippie shoes made from recycled dreadlocks or something. They’re great. In fact, I’ve gotten more compliments on these shoes than any other piece of clothing I’ve ever owned, with the exception of my suit. Unfortunately recycled tires and jute only hold together for so long. A year later the shoes are ripped and frayed, but I’m wearing them anyway. It’s the thought that counts, and these holey shoes seem appropriate on this holiest day of the year.


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