May 28, 2015 / 10th of Sivan, 5775
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Synagogue Shoe Policy

Here’s a seemingly random and insignificant thought (but I think interesting and one I contemplate every time I enter my shul): why aren’t Jews the ones who remove their shoes before entering a synagogue?

Muslims do it?
Asians do it?
Jews, however, wouldn’t be caught dead in socks or barefoot in their synagogues, Temples or shuls.

Why not? After all, we read in the Torah: “Do not come any closer,” God says to Moses. “Take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Ex. 3:5).

On many levels it makes a lot of sense.

  1. It seems to be a natural response throughout history to the presence of God or the notion of prayer.
  2. According to tests, the bottom’s of shoes contain some 66 million organisms – more than toilet seats.
  3. Beyond the yuck factor, it just seems like good Feng Shui – dirty shoes, dirty energy – fundamental Feng Shul if you ask me.
  4. The Torah says so.
  5. It is so much more comfy than most of the shoes we show up in to shul.

Alas, it’s not the Jewish way, not part of our culture. Still, maybe we’ll try it out, make it an offering next week at our Synaplex Shabbat.

Rabbi B


Baruch HaLevi, aka “Rabbi B,” is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott, Mass., a vibrant, flourishing center of Jewish community, education and spirituality and one of the fastest-growing synagogues in Greater Boston.

Rabbi B is a passionate writer maintaining an active website,, and co-author of Revolution of Jewish Spirit: How to Revive Ruakh in Your Spiritual Life, Transform Your Synagogue & Inspire Your Jewish Community (Jewish Lights Publishing 2012).

Rabbi B is committed to reclaiming an inspired Judaism, fostering an inclusive Jewish community and building bridges between the Jewish community and our brothers and sisters of other faith traditions.

Rabbi B is a husband to his beloved wife, Ariela, and an abba, a proud father of their children, Yehuda, Maya, Shoshana and Aviv. 

Radical hospitality happens here!

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