I have to disagree with Chanel Dubofsky’s Sisterhood post in which she contends that new interest in Jewish men’s clubs reflects male anxiety about a supposed women’s takeover of Jewish organizations and life. I think it’s great that a non-Orthodox Jewish organization is making progress in engaging Jewish men. The goal is to have everyone involved.
Jewish boys apparently want a room of their own. This is the main conclusion from the new curriculum “Engaging Jewish Teenage Boys: A Call to Action,” an educational program aimed at resolving the so-called “boy crisis” in Jewish communal life. The program encourages the creation of all male spaces, such as a “Brotherhood” groups, in which boys can freely discuss life, philosophy and Jewish identity, and also play some basketball. The theory is that women and girls have been conducting Jewish ritual and consciousness-raising in all-female spaces for a while, and boys can use some of that empowerment, too.
It’s been clear for a while now that post-bar mitzvah age boys drop out of organized Jewish life, at least in the non-Orthodox world, far more than girls the same age do. In this article in The New York Times a few years back, I wrote about how the Reform movement had begun to address the gender disparity.