I wonder if the London Review of Books knew how timely its review of a new book, Jews and Shoes, would be – coming out during Rosh Hashanah, when we spend hours on our feet at shul, and before Yom Kippur, when we barely get to sit at all. The review of the book, a collection of essays edited by Edna Nahshon, provides a fascinating read on the various links between Jews and shoes – from Freud to flat-footedness to the Wandering Jew, with this introduction:
I supposed that a book called Jews and Shoes was going to be either a bumper book of Jewish jokes about schlepping and cobbling, or a severe cultural studies analysis of the nature and symbolic value of footwear in Jewish society through the ages. Aside from a mention of how Ferragamo got his start by popularising the strappy shoe for Hollywood lovelies after being commissioned by Cecil B. DeMille to make 12,000 sandals for the original 1923 version of The Ten Commandments, there is nothing to be found on high-end modern footwear. Jews and Shoes turns out indeed to be largely about schlepping and cobbling, but is entirely devoid of jokes.
The reviewer, however, displays a bit of ignorance when she starts out by saying she knows of no significant, modern-day Jewish shoe designer. Maybe Stuart Weitzman should send her a special High Holiday pair that will hold up well for Kol Nidre.