Rabbi Noam Raucher, MA.Ed – Executive Director
In six short years, the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs will celebrate 100 years of service to the Jewish community. In the last century, FJMC has been the primary space for Jewish men to find community, leadership development, and spiritual expression. FJMC can continue this necessary work. However, changing societal demands and expectations of men, in general, require us to consider how FJMC fits into the broader array of offerings for men and Jewish men alike and how we might adapt to meet the needs of the 21st-century man.
Let’s be honest about the need for men to find spaces by which they can express their masculinity and process their changing roles in safe, loving, and nonjudgmental spaces. Recent research has shown that, due to patriarchal influences, an invisible but tangible structure in which men, particularly cisgender men (those whose gender identity matches the sex assigned to them at birth), hold primary power and privilege, and they dominate roles of political leadership, economic authority, and social influence.
This system has traditionally placed men in positions of authority and control, while women and gender minorities have been subordinated, marginalized, or excluded from many spheres of life. This social system benefits men while also limiting their ability to express themselves in full and healthy ways. As a result, boys and men face various challenges regarding their personal health, relationships with family and friends, and education and employment. The impact on men’s lives through rising suicide rates is shocking enough. The Jewish community and Jewish men are not immune to any of this.
Affirming that we are one of the oldest men’s communities authentically rooted in spiritual tradition, FJMC has a role and the tools to be a resource for 21st-century masculinity. We have the size, power, and grit to inspire a spiritual movement, rooted in, and identifying with, the Jewish tradition that will lead the way for men to live healthy and productive lives. In turn, those men will make our world a better place for all. But that will require, on our part:
With the 100 year anniversary on the horizon, we should seize the opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to the world as a light unto the nations, and the standard bearer for what it means to be a man, Jewish or not, in the 21st century.