Thursday, July 16, 2009

What do shoes have to do with being Jewish?

Shoes are an integral part of Jewish material culture. Although they appear in some of the most foundational biblical stories, they are generally regarded as no more than lowly, albeit essential, accessories.

Jews and Shoes by Edna Rahshon takes a fresh look at the makings and meanings of shoes, cobblers, and barefootedness in Jewish experience. The book shows how shoes convey theological, social, and economic concepts, and as such are intriguing subjects for inquiry within a wide range of cultural, artistic, and historic contexts.

The book's multidisciplinary approach encompasses a wide range of contributions from disciplines as diverse as fashion, visual culture, history, anthropology, Bible and Talmud, and performance studies. Jews and Shoes will appeal to students, scholars and general readers alike who are interested to find out more about the practical and symbolic significance of shoes in Jewish culture since antiquity.

Ida Rak of Israel has been working in hand-painted paper for the last 20years. She creates collages and paper sculptures using second hand bags, hats and shoes, recycling and transforming them into paper sculptures. While living in San Francisco between 1991–97, she developed a line of table lamps whose bases and shades were covered in hand-painted paper.

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