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Jewish Guys on the Side

Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men says women now outperform men. Is that true in Jewish communal life?

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(Photoillustration Tablet Magazine; original photos Shutterstock)

Hanna Rosin’s new book The End of Men argues that changes in the U.S. economy—specifically the vast reduction of manufacturing jobs combined with growth in health, human resources, education, and other traditionally female-dominated professions—are leaving men in the dust in corporate culture, at universities, in families, and in popular culture. To what extent are these trends reflected in Jewish American communal life and leadership?

Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry is joined by Andy Bachman, rabbi of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn (and U.S. history and politics buff), and Shifra Bronznick, founding president of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community, to discuss Rosin’s thesis, and how it might resonate in a Jewish context. They speak as Jewish leaders, as people who are privy to the private concerns of Jewish men and women who are struggling with these changes, and as parents of sons and daughters who will have to navigate this new world. [Running time: 23:18.] 

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surfer_dad says:

Nice discussion — but from the Jewish, non-Ortho POV it missed the point. It’s already happened! Go to most Hillel’s on college campuses and it’s mostly young women. Go to USY meetings and it’s mostly young women. Within the establishment of our Day schools and shuls and Torah schools, it’s MOSTLY women. Sure the alpha males still “rule” the boards, but our world is becoming more and more feminized.

I don’t think that men “leaving” is a reaction specifically to women getting a more visible role within our establishments, I think that the vacuum created by modernity, by the change within Judaism and it’s inability to stay relevant created the rush out – women are simply filling that vacuum.

The reaction from Orthodoxy is to wrap itself in MORE. Until Reformative Judaism has an answer for WHY being Jewish is important, HOW our collective is a valuable force for good in the world and make tefillah a more relevant and interesting process for our members, then men – and eventually women – will continue to feel irrelevant and leave.

jacob_arnon says:

Jews usually tend to ape “world trends;” and liberal Jews all the more so. We are talking about liberal society, never forget that.

Hence I am not surprised that people here are arguing for the demise of “mankind.”

Let’s see what happens the day after the revolution. I doubt that that Western women (and we are talking about the West) will be able to fight back all the orthodox religious movements that are the largest growing sector of the populace world wide.

Women may be taking over, but are they reproducing in large enough numbers to offset the number of ultra religious reproduction?

It is at least 40 years ago since I “preached” a lay sermon on the same subject that Arnold Eisen brought up. I accused my congregation in Evanston as well (as many other congregations) of adopting the decorum of Protestant “high churches.” We are a passionate people withholding our passion when we pray. Prayer is not a passive phenomenon. It is an very active one that involves the praying Jew’s body and soul. Perhaps the reasons for this is not simply an act of mimicry of other faith groups prayer mores but the fear of “acting out” in a situation that we may feel as unspontaneous because it is something we engage in too infrequently, so we’re unsure of “what comes next.” First of all, it is Hebrew, and we’re perhaps concentrating on parsing out the Hebrew characters in a phonetically reasonable facsimile, and there isn’t enough energy left out for authentic pasion. Then there are those portions in English also read in unison — arise, sit, arise, sit (amen)….

There are a lot of terms involved in what is involved in Jewish prayer. Often the terms are technical and in Hebrew, terms that do not translate out adequately in English. What is “kavennah?” What is “hitbonenut”? There are other terms which are similarly opaque to Anglophones.

Again, like so many other aspects of our Jewish life in the North American diaspora, it is a failure of education. Praying is more than saying words, and in a congregation, prayer is a confusion of the individual praying Jew and the praying Jewish congregation involved in tradition, insight, inspiration, shekhina-seeking, remorse and hope. It is not neat, and it isn’t supposed to be neat. And in the period of the High Holy Days, it is also the opportunity for seeking an examination of the self and the community ending in a soul-cleansing that is the closest modern Jews can hope to achieve toward an epiphany.

truffautfan says:

Thoughts:

I found it interesting how this conversation focused on religion and spirituality instead of economics. There was little or no talk about Jewish men falling behind Jewish women in terms of economic and financial success. This is largely because a more realistic but less sexy title for Ms. Rosin’s book would be “The End of Blue Collar Men” or “the End of Some Men.” In the conversation you largely here and see that Ms. Rosin went and studied former manufacturing communities and other one-industry towns where the industry dried up. There are still blue-collar Jews but they are largely ignored from this conversation. I imagine most Jewish parents are still fairly confident that their sons and daughters will go to university and graduate school. I found it interesting that the class angle was almost entirely absent from the conversation except when discussing non-Jewish people.

2. When it comes to religious and spiritual life, women tend to be more religious than men.

http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199608102.do#.Ufw3k0Sw6t4

Since many to most American Jews grow up in Reform congregations (note: I grew up in Reform Congregation and consider myself Reform Jewish), how many men are just deciding to be secular and non-practicing?

truffautfan says:

Thoughts:

I found it interesting how this conversation focused on religion and spirituality instead of economics. There was little or no talk about Jewish men falling behind Jewish women in terms of economic and financial success. This is largely because a more realistic but less sexy title for Ms. Rosin’s book would be “The End of Blue Collar Men” or “the End of Some Men.” In the conversation you largely here and see that Ms. Rosin went and studied former manufacturing communities and other one-industry towns where the industry dried up. There are still blue-collar Jews but they are largely ignored from this conversation. I imagine most Jewish parents are still fairly confident that their sons and daughters will go to university and graduate school. I found it interesting that the class angle was almost entirely absent from the conversation except when discussing non-Jewish people.

2. When it comes to religious and spiritual life, women tend to be more religious than men.

http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199608102.do#.Ufw3k0Sw6t4

Since many to most American Jews grow up in Reform congregations (note: I grew up in Reform Congregation and consider myself Reform Jewish), how many men are just deciding to be secular and non-practicing?

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Jewish Guys on the Side

Hanna Rosin’s book The End of Men says women now outperform men. Is that true in Jewish communal life?

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