Wednesday, December 8, 2010


יום ז' לחנוכה
1 Tevet, 5771
December, 8th 2010

To the endangered species of our world, let us add another: the vanishing American religious male. While he’s not near extinction, he’s definitely PBS-special worthy. His disappearance isn’t just within Judaism – his lack of participation extends to every religion in the American landscape. And rabbis, priest, pastors, imams, demographers, and sociologists are trying to understand why.

            The far reaching Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey ( indicates that women outclass men in all the most important indices for religious belief and participation. It is actually quite stunning how much misogyny still exists in American religion, considering how many more women than men engage in spiritual practice.

            What concerns me most is the distance that many men hold from Torah and Judaism.  What worries me is that, as Thoreau wrote, “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation,” but do not see Torah as a vessel to ascend beyond their frustrations. “…they go to the graves with the song still in them.”

            We wonder why our Torah teaches, ve’ahavta – and you will love, rather than ve’he’emanta – and you will believe. It is because belief is not Judaism’s fulcrum, but rather closeness. The secret to living a life of Torah is holding it close, and letting it give expression to our souls. We men need to ask ourselves why it feels so far away.

Rather,[this] thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it. Deuteronomy 30:12-14

I would appreciate any thoughts from our community, from both men and women, as to why they think men feel less connected to religion. This piece is not meant to invalidate, in any way, the many and real spiritual struggles that women face. 

1 comment:

  1. Your blogs are very good! This question of yours applies not only to men, but also to our teenagers. There is a disconnect today. It has probably always been an issue. But in today's society, it is easy to get distracted, to turn away, to shut off, or to be ignorant. It is difficult to find the truth and beauty of Torah in today's world. Our culture also does not promote the inwardness needed to develop a religious self.
    I liked your observation that we need to let it(the Torah)give expression to our souls. I imagine that can only be done by keeping the Torah close to us, which is the challenge we all face.