Yom Kippur shoes


The latest entry into the comfortable and really-good-for you footwear happens to be acceptable for Yom Kippur.

Made of a washable blend of cork and silicone called CorksLite, these shoes contain no leather. They won’t win you any beauty contests, but that just makes it easier to spend all your time examining your soul rather than worrying about your looks.

On the religious plus side, Barefooters are so comfortable that during the Day of Atonement, worshippers will be able to reflect and pray without being distracted by aching feet. However, since Yom Kippur is a time to refrain from physical pleasures, some may object to these very comfortable shoes.

Heather Rosenstein, director of corporate development at Barefooters Corp., said her Scarsdale, N.Y., rabbi told her that “Jewish tradition tells us that angels do not wear shoes, instead they walk barefoot with their feet feeling the ground beneath them.” Since we are intended to go barefoot like angels, Barefooters are the perfect shoe, Rosenstein said.


As the mother of five children, who either attend or just graduated from a Jewish day school, she knows a lot of rabbis and has busily been handing out her company’s shoes before the upcoming High Holidays. She anxiously awaited their rabbinical reactions.

The rabbis not only approved but highly endorsed them, she said proudly.

People are always telling everyone to have a meaningful fast, but “how can you really have a meaningful fast if you are uncomfortable, thinking about your feet?” she wondered.

Rabbi Barry Freundel of Kesher Israel Congregation said angels are often cited as to why Jews don’t wear leather shoes on Yom Kippur. Also, he said, leather shoes in many cultures are seen as a sign of status, and Yom Kippur is a day when Jews should be repenting and “should feel our status diminished.”

At $100 a pair, it’s a matter of opinion if Barefooters are seen as a status symbol but their versatility just might justify the price. Wear them to yoga class, keep them on while stretching, and then wear them home again. The shoe is particularly attractive to yoga followers who like that Barefooters are eco-friendly and vegan.

Barefooters are not actually being marketed as the Yom Kippur shoe. Rosenstein explained that is just an extra plus she realized. The classic shoe itself is called a recovery shoe, meaning it is the go-to footwear for anyone who just finished a daily jog or spent the whole day in Christian Louboutins, Jimmy Choos or Manolo Blahniks.

“As we say, recovery is for everyone, not just the athlete who has run 10 miles or biked 50, but even for the woman who has worn high heels all day or for the man in uncomfortable loafers,” the press release explained.

Rosenstein said the shoe is getting rave reviews from runners and cyclists. It also is being embraced by the elderly, she said. Really feeling the ground as you walk is important to seniors and helps them slip less, she said in a phone interview from California where she was helping her eldest child prepare for his first year at the University of Southern California.

These shoes also are great to wear during gardening as they are comfortable, flexible and can take dirt and sweat. The insole pops right out. With a little dish soap and water, it’s clean again.

The slip-on shoes were in the design phase for almost three years and are made in Italy. They are flexible and shock-absorbent. The insoles are lined with microfiber fabric that improves comfort and lessens odors, according to the company press release.

“Your foot may stink, but the shoe won’t,” Rosenstein said.

The shoes are sold in 20 countries and can be found locally in Alexandria, Manassas and Annapolis. They come in a rainbow of colors.

Since its launch, Barefooters also has come out with Kilkee, a woman’s sandal, and a flip-flop, Rosenstein said.

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