Thursday, May 8, 2008

Liberal Jewish Boys

Back in the news: There are no liberal Jewish men around. Shocking. But what are people going to do about it besides say there is a crisis and holding “men’s only” seders and youth group events? “It’s not cool for boys to be in touch with their emotions or care about the environment or religion when girls are around,” Jason Wachs, BBYO’s 18-year-old international president for the boys’ chapters says. “BBYO allows them to open up.” This is crap. The boy crisis has more to do with lazy parenting than anything else, but the Feminist reaction is killing me.
“Thirty-five years ago -- when women were not ordained as rabbis, when girls in the Conservative movement celebrated a bat mitzvah on Friday night, when Orthodox girls did not receive an education remotely comparable to that of their brothers, when women were not called to the Torah for aliyot or allowed on the bimah at all -- where were the headlines proclaiming a girl crisis?” wrote Rabbi Rona Shapiro, senior associate at Ma’ayan: The Jewish Women’s Project, a program of the JCC in Manhattan, in a Jan. 2007 op-ed.
Rabbi Shapiro, I am pretty sure that the Feminist movement addressed the girl crisis. Stop me if I am wrong but there is a problem. If we do nothing to address the shrinking number of men in Liberal Jewish life, then woman will dominate Liberal Judaism. People are trying to figure out how to create balance in the world, not have one group dominate the other.

The first step I would say would be to teach parents to teach their children to be responsible.

No one teaches kids responsibility to community. We teach them to play sports, read books, understand science, act in the play, read from the Torah and then move one to more sports, books, science and theater. Liberal Jews have a responsibility to their community in the same way Black Hats have a responsibility.

Without liberal Jews, there will be no liberal Judaism. If we don’t teach kids that it is scared work to build community, that it isn’t easy, that it is as important as acing the test, we all fail. The boy crisis has nothing to do with boys and everything to do with values. As a community of liberal Jews, we are not reinforcing the values of communal responsibility.

We are ignoring why Reform Judaism took shape: an awareness and embrace of modernity with a solid foundation in history and tradition. Without a well balanced understanding of our past, present and future, the community falls apart. We must stop pointing fingers and start teaching values. Rabbi Shapiro is in the prefect position to take the lead. But it is easier to protect her own hard-fought and won space in society, than to sacrifice for the benefit of the community.

No comments: