Thursday, August 11, 2016

When Muslim and Jewish Women Meet - Finding Common Ground

I have always felt that if people can meet across national, ethnic and religious lines, the barriers can be broken one dialogue at a time. So I was happy to introduce my daughter, an Orthodox Jew, to a friend who’s a Muslim.

We offered her some coffee or tea that she declined. She had just had something to drink after exhausting herself searching for a comfortable pair of shoes. Quickly the discussion turned to something that can unite all women – the difficulty women have finding comfortable shoes. Especially if one’s foot is wide or narrow as opposed to average, finding a comfortable pair of walking shoes that actually fit properly can entail an expedition to numerous shoe stores, often in vain.

My friend wanted a pair of comfortable shoes for her pilgrimage to Mecca. My daughter walks to and from religious services every week on Shabbat (Sabbath). If there is any area of common ground, it's definitely the ordeal it is to find the right shoes for the purpose of walking on this Earth.

When I went shoe shopping myself, I thought of them as I wore out every shoe salesperson in the store. After trying on about 40 pairs of shoes, I finally found a pair settling on something not perfect but comfortable.

My husband waited for me in the front of the store looking extremely bored. This is something I didn’t think would ever happen to us. When he planned to retire, I told him it was fine with me on the condition that he would never ask to go shopping with me. As an anti-shopper, he has always been very happy to comply with that condition but that day we were in the process of doing several different errands. Why did I think for a second that shoe shopping would be a quick stop? I should have known better.

“What do you think?” my husband asked. “Why aren’t women’s shoes more lasting?”

The answer was obvious. Most designers of women’s shoes are either sadists or misogynists or both. What man would walk a mile in these moccasins?


Do these shoes befit any religious pilgrimage? I wouldn’t even wear them to walk around the supermarket.

 When Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination for President, they shattered the glass ceiling. "When there's no ceiling, the sky's the limit," she said in her acceptance speech.

Thank heavens, we American women have finally achieved that milestone albeit after at least 20 other countries around the world. Now that we have, maybe we can focus on the ground again and the shoes women are forced to wear to walk on it. If we’re going to walk beside our men instead of lagging far behind them, we’re going to need more comfortable shoes to do it in. After all, how are we supposed to hold up Half the Sky in shoes like these?

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