This photograph shows a group of well-dressed men and women standing in front of several kneeling children. The woman in the center of the photo wearing a dark dress is pulling up the hem of her skirt. And that’s because she and the others are getting their shoes shined by the children, who are young bootblacks, in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a holiday celebrating shiny shoes? No, but it is traditional for Jewish people to wear their best clothes on that day. In New York City, bootblacks dotted the streets, offering to shine shoes and, so Jewish immigrants added a new twist to New Year preparations: getting their shoes shined. Dingy shoes just wouldn’t do!
More to Think About….
- What can you tell about the people in this picture by the clothing they are wearing?
- Do you think the two children standing on the right side of the picture are bootblacks? Why or why not?
- These people are getting their shoes shined for a holiday. What activities do you do on a holiday that you don’t do on a typical day?