Jews and Shoes

Jenny Diski writes:

The linking of Jews and shoes makes sense, I suppose, beyond the satisfactory rhyme, for a people on the move since well before Moses and long before medieval Christianity invented the Wandering Jew. Abraham, the father of them all, was told to ‘get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.’ After which there was no end of traipsing, fleeing and marching into battle. Plays havoc with the feet, and certainly a decent pair of shoes would help. The Jew/shoe linkage is strengthened in a pamphlet of 1602, cited by Shelly Zer-Zion in her chapter, which describes the Jew named Ahasverus who had owned a cobbler’s shop on the Via Dolorosa, but refused Christ assistance as he passed by. Whereupon Christ ‘looked hard at him, and said: “I shall stand here and rest, but you shall wander forth and be everlastingly restless.”’

(LRB 9 October 2008)