By Mordechai Schmutter

(Note: This column does not advocate the wearing of any specific footwear on Yom Kippur. If you have any questions about shoes, ask your rebbetzin.)

I almost never think about shoes, unless it’s time to get new ones, which I do when I can start seeing my feet without taking my shoes off. Aside from that, the only times I think about footwear is right before Yom Kippur and Tishah B’Av, when I’m stuck under my bed up to the waist, looking for my other sneaker.

Sneaker, slipper, I don’t care. I need to find something.

I should consider myself lucky. Hundreds of years ago, there were no sneakers or slippers, and when they said, “Don’t wear leather shoes,” they meant “Don’t wear shoes. Unless they’re paper slippers that your kids made in kindergarten.” But these days, you rarely see anyone in shul with bare feet, unless they have uncomfortable sneakers that they’ve been wearing twice a year since the 1950s. And even then, they’re usually wearing socks.

So I guess one sneaker is better than no sneakers.

I’ll tell you what I’m looking for, in case you see it: A while back, I bought a really cheap pair of sneakers for $8. I don’t know what they’re made out of; but, for $8, it’s definitely not leather. I got them mostly for Yom Kippur and Tishah B’Av, but I also wore them like some people wear baseball caps–when I went on vacation. I think I still have those sneakers, though, unless my wife secretly got rid of them, but they’re so far under my bed that they’re in a different time zone.

Oh, here it is! No, this is the one I had.

Of course, there are other options. When I was growing up, everyone of my father’s generation was wearing the same type of canvas sneakers, made out of old army tents and invented shortly after the “shoes or barefoot” age. And I always had to crawl under his bed to get them, because he had back issues, probably because of the shoes.

We tend to think of the area under the bed as a magical place where we can store things that we don’t want falling on us every time we open our closets. Beds will fit everything you stuff under there, and the things already down there just take a step back to make room for the new things.

For all I know, the sneaker is right next to me, but I can’t turn my head.

I have a lot of stuff under my bed, including a bathroom scale, some enormous empty shoeboxes that we don’t want to get rid of even though the shoes were niftar years ago, and several of my two-year-old’s toys. And wrappers, and batteries, and socks, and the remote to my air conditioner.

So that’s what happened to it. I’ve been turning the AC on and off with my toes.

Oh, and here’s the kids’ library book.

We’ve been missing that one since forever. We gave up on it a long time ago, and bought the library a new one, because it was cheaper than paying their fees to replace it. I can’t believe the kids left it under my bed. I only thought to check behind their beds.

These days, I check behind their beds every time I go to the library, and also every time they tell us they don’t have any clothes left. What’s convenient is that two of my boys share a bunk bed, so to look for things, I only have to look behind the one bed. I pull it out, and there are like 75 yarmulkes back there.

Hey, a Croc!

Maybe I should wear my Crocs. I didn’t even want Crocs. My wife bought them, mainly because I was the only one left who didn’t have Crocs. I don’t even get the appeal. Are they comfortable? Not any more so than just not wearing them. And what’s with all the holes? I can see my feet! Doesn’t that mean it’s time to buy shoes? And what’s with the flimsy rubber strap? Is it supposed to go in front of the foot? Is it supposed to go behind? Nobody’s sure!

At least Crocs are better than flip-flops. When I was growing up, I had those flip-flops with that thing between the toes. Really? There was no other way to get them to stay on?

I hated those. I wore them to camp one year, and I have painful memories of trudging downhill in them to go swimming in the lake, which they made us do like it was some ancient summer tradition, even though this is why pools were invented, and I decided to wear slippers in the water because I was afraid of stepping on a fish. I don’t know how slippers would have prevented me from stepping on a fish, but at least it would have offered protection were the fish to retaliate, so long as it only tried to bite the very bottom of my foot. Not that they would have protected me anyway, because flip-flops float, which is what I discovered when I got into the lake and said, “Hey look! There’s a slipper floating next to me! Oh wait, that’s mine.”

Hey, I could wear my bedroom slippers that I never wear! The kind that make it look like I killed two cartoon characters and strapped them to my feet!

How could I have only one sneaker? It’s like those displays at the shoe store. Whenever the stores get a shipment that is missing one shoe, they just leave its match on top of the display to remind them to call and complain, and then all the customers come in and think it’s a sample. And by “sample,” I mean as in, “This is what the shoe looks like.” Not as in, “Samples! Take only one!”

Actually, there are thieves in New York who’ve been helping themselves to the shoe-store samples.

What? Before Yom Kippur?

Actually, they do it all year.

But what do they do with one shoe, right? Are they selling it for people who broke their toes, so they have something to wear on the foot that’s not in one of those weird slipper things?

Actually, according to the article I read, these thieves case the stores beforehand and figure out which stores display left shoes and which ones display right shoes. I bet you never noticed that all the single shoes in a given store are all for the same foot, right? Neither did I. I think that’s because that’s not the one we try on.

So the thieves go to one store, steal a shoe, and then hop on over to the other store, and walk off with that one. It’s a two-step plan.

Some store managers said that they’ve had 50 shoes stolen in a year, some worth as much as $350 (per shoe?).

But maybe I should go see if the sneaker store has any loaners. If I can remember which store sells the one I need. v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to

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