Jason Fredric Gilbert
Pushing the boundaries of weird since 1978
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A man’s guide to shoes in Israel

Jason Fredric Gilbert may or may not sole, but he seems to know what's afoot.

You can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. Especially in this country. You know who they are. You know who they voted for. You know what city they live in and whether or not they believe in God. So in order to let you walk 1.609344 kilometers in their shoes I’ve put together a comprehensive list of footwear you’ll find here with some brief details about its owners. Tread lightly.

1. The kitchen worker: Crocs. Perhaps the most hideous thing we humans have ever put on our feet. Yes they’re comfortable but it’s the footwear equivalent of the mooomoo. If you’re wearing the black or blue original “beach” version there’s a good chance you’re washing the dishes in one of Tel Aviv’s many café’s and restaurants. Or prepping the food. If yours is of the colorful variety you’re most likely unemployed, working at the post office or running a telephone sex service out of your home. Or maybe today is your wedding day. Congratulations. Where do you live? Most likely right outside of Tel Aviv for convenience. After all you need to open the café at five thirty AM and start mopping the floors/slicing the potatoes. Probably Ramat Gan or Petach Tikva.


2. The Beach Bum: Havaianas. The most popular flip flop in Israel. If you are wearing them you are probably sitting at a café on Bograshov in the middle of the day and checking in on foursquare as if anyone gives a shit where you are. Or flirting with the waitress. You have a dog named Ziggy. You’ve been smoking hash and drinking espresso all morning and listening to Hadag Nachash. You haven’t shaved in weeks. You’re probably a shift manager at the café. You and a roommate rent an apartment in Tel Aviv off of Frishman but you are originally from a moshav up North. You still take your laundry to your mom on the weekends.


3. The American: Yes that’s you wearing khaki cargo shorts from GAP and Mizuno running sneakers (or New Balance) with those white socks. Granted, you’re about twenty kilo overweight and you haven’t actually run in a few years, you rock the running shoes like you’re fresh off the Boston Marathon. You made aliyah a few years ago but can’t bring yourself to go native. You live in Raanana with the rest of the Anglos. Welcome to Israel.


4. The Settler: You bought your sandals at the army supply store Ricochet and you rock them with or without socks. You live well past the green line and when you’re not busy illegally setting up outposts and spray painting “Price Tag” on Mosques you work in the IT/computer programming department of Microsoft Israel or HP. You live somewhere in Judea and/or Samaria, voted for Bennett and believe liberal people like me should be kicked repeatedly in the gonads until we go live in Iran.photo
5. La Frenchie: You wear leather moccasins with no socks. You are originally from Paris but the abundance of Muslims made you long for the homeland and leave France for the sunny shores of Ashdod. Really? Ashdod? I get it, it’s cheap but you do know the Hamas keeps lobbing missiles at you, right? Makes you miss the relatively docile anti-Semitic ones on the West Bank of the Seine, no mon ami?


6. The Moses: You wear the Biblical sandals. You fought bravely in the war of Independence. You’ve been milking cows on the Kibbutz ever since. Or giving guided tours. Your skin is permanently tanned from the sun and the nobles cigarettes. You hike on the Israeli trail once a year. You live in the Golan Heights. This is the only pair of shoes you own. You may or may not have had sex with Golda Meir at some point in the 50’s.


7. The Meter Maid: Black New Balance sneakers. That is what the parking department of Or Yehuda ordains. Or the Police department. Or the restaurant where you’re waiting tables. Congratulations, you’ve proven your teachers and parents wrong and despite all evidence to the contrary you’ve managed to find gainful employment. Please keep an extra pair handy for when these get worn down by the pavement and the dog poop.

meter maid

8. The Degenerate: In Hebrew we call them “Arsim”. The Puma soccer shoe. Or Diadora. Or Kappa. Or Adidas. You played soccer for about ten minutes when you were in grade school. You sucked even then. You chain smoke now and blast Kobi Peretz from your MAZDA 323 LANTIS with the tinted windows. You live in Bat Yam but not exclusively. You have been spotted around the country in cities like Beer Sheva, Ofakim, Kiryat Malachi, Holon and many others.


9. The German Business man: Esquire magazine says every man should have one pair of black Oxfords. Esquire magazine has never been to Israel. If you see a man wearing black dress shoes here it means he’s either ultra orthodox or not Israeli. The German business man is here on a business trip. He’s staying at the King David in Jerusalem and he doesn’t understand why no one else is wearing a suit to the business meeting. Or actual shoes. Or showing up on time.

black shoes

10. The White Russian: Not to be confused with The Dude’s favorite beverage (or S.’s). This Israeli made sandal by Teva Naot (peculiarly named “The Shakespeare”) is traditionally worn with socks by Russian immigrants countrywide. Most likely spotted on the boardwalk of Netanya and Akko. Do not engage in Hebrew. They speak it worse than you do. Blat.


11. The “Northerner” (Tzfoni): as in North Tel Aviv. You own hundreds of pairs of shoes that you bring back with you from the States on one of your many annual trips. But you like to rock those uber cool vintage Adidas kicks. Or colorful Nike High Tops that cost more than my car. Yes, you, you spoiled little brat from Ramat Aviv, Herzaliya or Ceasaria. We get it. You listen to all the right music. You know all the right people. You have all the right clothes but you’re a real douchebag and nobody likes you. Not even your girlfriend. Or maybe she does and I’m old and bitter and jealous. I don’t know reader. Your call on this one.

cool vintage

12. The Macho Man: Psychological studies show that people who wear boots usually display aggressive characteristics. So what does that say about an entire country where men are forced to wear them for at least three years? So it’s no wonder that men here don’t appreciate the boot. It reminds them of the army. Unless they’re riding a motorcycle (scooters don’t count, I’ve seen people ride them in Havaianas), working in construction or a police officer on horseback. So yeah, if you’re wearing boots in this country you’re either in a Village People cover band or you’re serving in the IDF.

Village people lookalkes

I know I’ve left a bunch out. Like the creepy five finger Frog shoes I used to see at the gym. And Birkenstocks. And what’s up with those plaid house slippers made by Dafna that everyone has in this country? The Kippi house slipper. I’ve even seen some dumbasses wear them outside to smoke a cigarette (see above entry for DEGENERATE). M. wanted to buy me a pair but I put my foot down firmly. They reminded me of forced labor camps and absorption centers.

Well, you know what they say. If the shoe fits.

About the Author
Jason Fredric Gilbert is a film and music video director, published author and acclaimed parallel parker; His Independent Film,"'The Coat Room" won "Best in Fest" at the 2006 Portland Underground Film Festival. He is also the author of two books of screenplays, "Miss Carriage House" and the follow up collection of screenplays "Reclining Nude & The Spirit of Enterprise" He currently lives in Or Yehuda and solves crossword puzzles in the bathroom. Please slap him in the face if you see him.