The original founders of the “Jewish Friends of Reform,” in Germany of 1843, invited to join them “all who do not accord any authority or obligatory power to the confused and frequently meaningless rabbinical interpretations and injunctions, all who strive for a form of faith whose enlivening principle is pure Mosaism.” They were supposed to place ethics before ritual.
Not even 200 years later, a national news article on the eve of Yom Kippur is devoted — to our shoes. Specifically, what sort of footwear a Jew might wear, because of “ambivalence” about this ritual. Personally, I’m with Howard Sklamberg, who couldn’t conscience the sight of someone driving up to synagogue on Yom Kippur, and getting out wearing sneakers. He just, unfortunately, went the wrong way in resolving this obvious paradox, giving up the sneakers instead of, apparently, his car.
The article neatly juxtaposes two Jewish clergy, which for these purposes the Chabad Rebbetzin certainly is. The Senior Rabbi of a large Reform Temple is quoted as contemplating the non-leather shoes she would like to go out and buy, if she has time, though only “some” of her heels have been synthetic in the past. Meanwhile, the wife of a Chabad shaliach will be wearing Crocs, and “that’s about as much thought as she’s going to give to her footwear… ‘it’s not about the shoes.’”