There were sneakers, sandals, flip-flops, Uggs, Crocs, high heels, dress shoes and even some low-cut boots.
They were in every color—from bright pink to traditional black and brown—and size, including small, medium and large. Most were in pairs, while some were mixed or single.
As far as the eye could see, thousands of pairs of shoes lined the Tel Aviv beachfront on Sunday morning, marking three months since 240 people were taken hostage during Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel, over 100 of whom remain in captivity in Gaza.
The daunting exhibition, near the Mediterranean shore, was titled “The Way Home: From Captivity to Freedom.”
“We are asking the government and the world to enter into our shoes and mark out the way home from Gaza,” said Osnat Sharabi-Matallon, 54, the initiator of the exhibition, whose two brothers, Yossi and Eli Sharabi, were kidnapped from their homes in Kibbutz Be’eri and are still being held hostage. Yossi’s wife and two teenage daughters were murdered in the massacre.
“The exhibition was born from the fear of giving up,” she told JNS. “People are already talking about the next milestone—100 days since their captivity—and we don’t want to wait any more for their return.”
Two huge Hebrew-language posters at the entrance to the exhibition near the Charles Clore beach just north of Jaffa read, “Bring them home now” and “There is no victory until they’re back,” with pictures of her two smiling siblings.
Earlier exhibitions for the hostages included rows of baby cribs and dolls in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Most of the scores of children taken hostage were released at the end of November with their mothers in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, but the whereabouts of the youngest hostage—taken at 9 months old together with his 4-year-old brother—remains unknown.
In the meantime, Sharabi-Matallon voiced the hope that Tel Aviv residents would join and expand their exhibition, dubbed the “line of life, the line of hope,” with their own old shoes, which by late morning had already snaked over a mile to the north Tel Aviv beachfront.