So I thought that I’d start my blogging career off by sharing an interview I read yesterday with Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, a rabbi at Bnei Jeshurun in New York, about men and women’s changing roles in Judaism.
I found the article inspiring and distressing at the same time. The article talks about how with the growing Feminist movement in Judaism, women have established their own place in Judaism, from Rosh Chodesh women’s rituals to breaking down the barrier that had prevented them from reading Torah, leading davening, etc. However, Rabbi Bronstein also talks about how many men feel that they have been replaced in Judaism, and that they now need to find a niche of their own:
I do think, though, that we have an imbalance in Jewish life. I believe that men don’t see a place for themselves in Jewish life. Men are not needed anymore basically for anything–not for the minyan, not for the reading of the Torah, not for witnessing. In life in general, men are not needed not as providers, or even as the ones that will impregnate women. Sperm banks do that too.
If the paradigm of the provider, the hunter, the dominant one is past, we men have to generate another paradigm that is liberated from patriarchal weight.
We, as women, should be proud of the advances that we have made in Judaism. However, it is important to remember (and many times we forget) that as women’s roles change, men’s roles must also. As men are no longer expected to play the dominant role, they have to come to terms with the idea of “equal, but different,” and create a new identity for themselves. This is no small task, explaining why many men are finding it difficult to do so and consequently looking outside of Judaism for an answer.
What do you suggest? What lessons can be learned from Feminist Judaism that can be applied to a similar movement for men? How can we, as women, help men to redefine themselves without pushing them out of Judaism?