At Men's Only Seders, Challenges of Modern Jewish Man Are the Focus

Special Seders Are Reform Men's Most Popular Program

Thinkstock

By Alex Eidman

Published March 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

“We drummed, we laughed and we learned,” Moskovitz said. “It was a tremendous success.”

The community seder attracted Barden’s attention. He asked Moskovitz and Netter if they would write a Haggadah that Reform brotherhoods across the country could use. Barden said the decision paid off: “It’s so rare these days that men can come together in a non-competitive setting to discuss issues like health and competency.”

The men’s seder is usually held a week or two before the Passover holiday. In 2008, the first year of the program, 18 chapters across the country participated, though Barden thinks that number has increased through positive word of mouth.

The special Haggadah includes questions meant to generate discussion such as, “What enslaves us as men?” and “Why is it important for us to be breadwinners?” It also rewrites the Ten Plagues as issues that plague men such as prostate cancer, mid-life crises and weight gain. The men write down answers to the questions posed by a moderator, read each other’s cards and begin a dialogue. Attendees can choose anonymity throughout the program, to ensure they feel comfortable sharing.

Barden said that most of the participants in the men’s seders are middle-aged and many are fathers, but he hopes the program will expand to include a younger demographic.

Moskovitz said Jewish men are much more involved with family life than they used to be, but don’t usually get the chance to talk about how to manage this new role.

“The men’s seder poses twenty-first-century questions for twenty-first-century men,” Moskovitz said. “Many of them are working the daddy shift in addition to the late shift.”

Reform temples are also dealing with dwindling male numbers. Stuart Aaronson of Temple Beth-El in Providence, R.I., said he thinks the men’s seder can help in the fight to retain and re-engage male members.

“We see fewer and fewer men participating in mainstream organized religion,” Aaronson said. “I think this seder is a chance for men to become religiously involved and explore deep personal issues.”

There is one similarity the men’s seder shares with the traditional seder, said Charlie Niederman, a member of Temple Beth David in Orange County, Calif.

“We’re a dessert-only seder,” Niederman said, and the treats are served after the talking. “So near the end someone always says, ‘So, when do we eat?’”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.