Men Shying From Reform Movement

The Chicago Tribune The AP reports,

The branch of American Judaism that pioneered elevating women to leadership positions is now wrestling with an uncomfortable issue: Where have the men gone?

Reform Jewish leaders in many communities say females outnumber males in areas ranging from summer camp to synagogue leadership, prompting concern that men feel abandoned by the religious movement and are turning away from it.

Full story. (bypass reg)

5 thoughts on “Men Shying From Reform Movement

  1. 1. The article’s not a Trib story. It’s an AP story that ran in the Trib. It also ran elsewhere.
    2. The numbers quoted in the article (“While an equal number of men and women are studying to become rabbis at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform seminary, women outnumber men 2-to-1 in its cantorial school, administrators say.”) are way off. This year’s entering rabbinic school class is less than 1/3 male, and the incoming cantorial class is less than 1/5 male.

  2. I’m Conservative, but in Atlanta one of my friends calls me the Pied Piper of Beth Jacob (the main Orthodox shul here) for the number of people I have somehow guided from a largely secular lifestyle to an Orthodox one.
    What I have seen from friends who have gone Orthodox in the last 5 years or so here is that it’s more women than men, to the point that these Baal Teshuvah women have to leave our community and live elsewhere in order to find someone to marry.
    The impression I have always gotten from this is that women take their Judaism more seriously in both the Reform and the newly Orthodox camps.
    I don’t know how I would further interpret it for Reform: are women able to take it seriously and still handle the “watered-down” aspects of Reform theology because women gravitate towards building relationships? are men less able to take it seriously because they can’t logically integrate thinking about it seriously while not committing themselves to acting upon the implications (that is, viewing mitzvot and halacha as binding)?
    So that’s how I see my friends and others who take their Reform and Orthodox Judaism seriously.
    As for the middle ground of Conservative Judaism, while I have watched at a single bat mitzvah as three generations of women in my family (mother, sister, nieces) chanted from the Torah in front of the full congregation, I still see more men in the leadership roles in the congregations I attend. Perhaps that is because since the women are treated practically as equals, the men can focus their energies on themselves and not be concerning themselves with the inequalities and wondering how a religion can be right if it’s not right for both of you.
    Or maybe I am looking at this wrong, and the men I see in Conservative shuls come from stronger backgrounds and have paired up with inquisitive women from weaker backgrounds.
    Wow, this is getting really complicated!
    On the other hand, where’s Tevye when you really need him?

  3. Perhaps there are more women in reform leadership positions because that’s the only place they can pursue these positions.

  4. I feel exactly the way that other men do regarding the reform movement and I believe there needs to be something acknowledging the strengths of genders and embracing our differences in an equitable manner

  5. i am the outreach director for a jewish summer camp in california and i can tell you that this is becoming a crisis in the camping movement. i have a waiting list of hundreds of young girls who want to go to camp, and we are desparate for boys to fill the boys’ side of camp.
    it turns out that this is not a unique Camp Tawonga problem, but something that jewish camps across the country are facing. we learn this through chatting with other camp directors, and also in attending the annual national conference, the NAA. there was a session organized by camping leaders called “where are the boys?”
    many of us believe that the boys are at home playing video games, but the link with their fathers’ non-participation in jewish community is very important to note.
    i believe that the way to combat this is pretty simple – create more programming (and advertising) that make men and boys feel welcome and wanted. now at the risk of getting shot down by many readers of this page who are easily upset by anything smacking of marketing, i can tell you that this means creating more sports at camp, and showing images of that in our brochures. i also want to create a men’s weekend in the fall – this will unfortunately be an uphill battle in my organization, which is, to a fault, inclusive above all else. the idea of a sex segregated event is really hard to promote around here.

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