Sunday, December 27, 2009

HH and Sneaking Around

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Baila for including my post on Torani communities.

And on a related note, the following incident occurred a number of years ago.

Sitting at our  Shabbat table here in TRLEOOB*, an American guest told us that she wasn’t very impressed with our community.

I can see that people here aren’t machshiv Shabbos (Yeshivish for “don’t value or honor the Shabbat”),” she intoned.

Stunned, YZG and I just stared at her blankly.

Yes,” she continued earnestly. “I mean, I was in shul this morning, and I was very surprised to see some boys wearing… sneakers! Obviously, their parents don’t really care about Shabbos, because otherwise, they wouldn’t let them go to shul like that!

(At this point, I can see that many of my Israeli readers are smiling, but I’ll go on for the benefit of my foreign readers.)

Actually, it has nothing to do with being ‘machshiv Shabbos,’” I explained, amused. “I do realize that sneakers in shul on Shabbat looks very strange to American eyes, but believe me, Shabbat is very important here.

It’s just that kids’ shoes – and adult shoes, for that matter! – are very expensive, and many families don’t feel like they can afford to buy sneakers, sandals, and shoes for Shabbat for all their kids.

But the guest was still skeptical.

No, that can’t be it,” she insisted. “Because I’ve been to Chareidi communities, where I assume people have much less money, and yet somehow they manage to purchase Shabbos shoes for all their kids…

Well, yeah,” I conceded, as I tried hard not to laugh. “But that’s only because they don’t buy their kids sneakers! Instead, they wear their dressy black shoes all week long…

The guest had nothing to say in response.

I don’t know if she was convinced or if she was just being polite.

But I like to think that maybe - just maybe - we got her to rethink some of her preconceived notions.

And hopefully, she walked away from that Shabbat with the recognition that one shouldn’t judge a community by its footwear…



*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog


  1. I am hesitant to judge your judgmental guest.

    My oldest son, despite owning beautiful Shabbat shoes, sometimes still wears his sneakers to shul (this week, it was due to rain, or so he claimed). I know, horrors. Such lenient parents he has. Letting a 15 year old make his own decisions.

  2. I like your conclusion.

  3. Mrs S, trying to contact you, but can't find your e-mail address. I want to link to you, but could you do the same please? Also, could you tell me how your feedburner has the numbers thing on it, I don't know how... Please reply to my e-mail!

  4. Leora - If I were to be judged based on some of my sons' sartorial choices , I'd be in big trouble...

    Ilana-Davita - Thanks!

    N - My email address is listed near the top of this blog's right sidebar.

  5. “But that’s only because they don’t buy their kids sneakers! Instead, they wear their dressy black shoes all week long…”

    The guest had nothing to say in response.

    Here is a response - youre wrong! They buy sneakers and sandals. And still buy shabbos shoes lichvod shabbos.

    But, hey, as long as you can talk against chareidim, I see you have a good future for this blog.

  6. Anonymous - This post didn't say anything bad about Charedim at all. The main point was to point out some cultural differences and to point out that it's not fair to judge people solely by dress - something which I am sure that everyone agrees about.

  7. Its your tone my friend. Your tone in this and a few other posts speaks volumes about your ahavas yisroel and your bias. It might not be loud enough to hear, but its clear enough to be felt

  8. Anonymous - There is no "tone" in any of these posts. The writer is very careful not to say anything negative about any group, which by the way says a lot more about ahavas yisroel than your comment, which very explicitly publicly denounces specific groups of frum torah observent jews.

  9. I'm still torn on this subject - although I love that Israel is a far more casual country than the US, and I have no problem with other kids wearing sneakers to shul, I still have a hard time letting *my* kids do it (when they ask me). That's okay - I'm sure I'll be used to it by the time my grandchildren are wearing them :)

  10. Toby - I'm totally with you on this one! I'm still American enough that our sons all have black dressy shoes, and we expect the boys to wear them on Shabbat. But - like you - it doesn't bother or concern me when other people's sons wear sneakers to shul...

  11. Anonymous I think you're wrong. Charedim, at least the ones I know, don't wear/own sneakers or sandals (except maybe for the shower). The yeshivish uniform would look awfully strange with a pair of sneakers.

  12. I love it!
    That materialistic guest wouldn't know true shabbat without the costume.

    When my kids were little, most Israeli kids had one pair of shoes in winter and just sandals in the summer. When we visited NY and they attended a day camp they were forbidden sports by the camp until we bought them sneakers.

  13. Alon - It's known as "the Yom Kippur look"...

    Batya - I guess things have changed somewhat here in Israel. Nowadays, all of my kids' gym teachers insist that they wear sneakers (or at least "closed shoes") for "shiur sport" all year-round. And according to a Ministry of Education directive, kids aren't allowed to go on school tiyulim which involve hiking without "closed shoes".


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