Outside of Orthodoxy, how do we explain the disappearance of men from the Jewish community? Why do so many men find their experience in the synagogue unfulfilling?
Hearing Men’s Voices is a program from the FJMC (Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs) It engages men in Jewish life by building male relationships and extending community – this program facilitates intimacy through dialogue.
The FJMC has prepared materials to facilitate such discussions
Jewish Movement Seeks to Reconnect Men to the Faith
Article from Beliefnet.com, July, 2000
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For the past seven years, a group of Jewish men in Philadelphia have been gathering together one evening a month for prayer and study. They also share their personal news with one another: A young husband whose wife is about to give birth to their first baby voices his fears and anticipation, while another man cries as he talks about the recent death of his elderly father…
It’s all part of a trend that some are calling a “Jewish men’s movement.” Jewish men, many of whom had fallen away from their religion, are beginning to reconnect–not only as Jews, but also specifically as men. They are going on men’s club retreats and joining all-male study groups, where they discuss such sensitive matters as infertility and faithfulness, or health issues like prostate cancer, or what it means to be a good father–all in the context of Judaism.
…The Jewish men’s movement had its beginnings in the early 1990’s, when Jewish leaders began to notice male participation in synagogue life was dropping drastically among all branches, except for the Orthodox. Leaders attributed this to various reasons: Men were working more hours, were too career-oriented and had too little time, not only for temple but for their families. They also noted that some had lacked Jewish male role models, or had been brought up with no religion at all. Of those who had, many knew no Hebrew.
…”The Jewish response to male issues is not sitting on rocks with tom-toms. It is not some nouveau-Jewvo Robert Bly,” said Rabbi Charles Simon, director of Conservative Judaism’s Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, referring to the poet and de facto leader of a New Age-style “men’s movement” in the late ’80s, when men retreated into the woods and bonded together wild-man style. “Rather it is through study, through which men become more connected Jewishly and with family,” Simon said. He said “really serious men” are getting involved with study; currently he is working on the fourth workbook for men’s clubs in an ongoing series titled “Hearing Men’s Voices.”
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