November 26, 2015 / 14th of Kislev, 5776
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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

Rabbi Baruch HaLevi Baruch HaLevi, aka“Rabbi B,” was ordained as a Conservative rabbi through the American Jewish University, Ziegler School of Rabbinic studies, and received his doctoral degree from the Graduate Theological Foundation of Oxford University. Rabbi B, a motivational speaker and author, has also spent the past 14 years as a synagogue rabbi not only creating one of the most vibrant synagogues in America, but helping to re-imagine and re-invigorate Judaism for the twenty-first century as exemplified in his book, “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 recently launched Rabbi B Initiatives which includes Israel Inspired Ventures - consulting to create innovative and inspirational Israel experiences and Spark Seekers Ventures - Rabbi B’s spiritual and grief counseling business and the subject of his newest book: Spark Seekers - Mourning with Meaning; Living with Light, published Spring 2015. Rabbi B is a visionary and "spiritual entrepeneur" involved with numerous cutting-edge spiritual related ventures all devoted to bringing inspiration, hope and meaning to people's lives. He and his family will be making aliyah (permanently moving to Israel) in the summer of 2015. You can learn more about Rabbi B through his blog, podcasts and website at:
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