Book Reviews: The Men's Section
Here is what people are saying about Elana Sztokman’s new book, The Men’s Section: Orthodox Jewish Men in an Egalitarian World:
"Having read so much recently about women’s roles in Orthodox Judaism, it was refreshing to read a scholarly woman’s analysis of Orthodox men. The author describes the little-discussed subject of life on the men’s side of the divider."
-- Barbara Sofer, The Jerusalem Post.
“A vital contribution well beyond the scene of liberal Orthodoxy….Sztokman’s book provides the intellectual tools through which we can reconstruct traditional gender identity in novel ways.”
– Rabbi Mishael Zion, The Forward
“A fresh and a much to be admired trend within Orthodoxy….I can only hope that when we have more women like Dr. Sztokman, who are learned, articulate and committed to both equality and halachah, that things will eventually change.”
-- Rabbi Jack Reimer, The Jewish Journal
"It’s a story about tension, identity and dialogue. About living on the borders of a culture, yet still navigating within them. About negotiating, pushing back, and yes, acceptance. Its tale is particular, yet so universal that scholars and laymen all over the world are picking up Elana Sztokman’s new work, The Men's Section."
-- Amanda Borschel-Dan, The Times of Israel
"Perhaps the most important message of the book ...is that until men understand that patriarchy is just as limiting for them as it is for women, little will improve for women."
-- Susan Sapiro, Lilith
"Fascinting....The Men’s Section is a very interesting and methodical look at a relatively recent phenomenon."
-- Cynthia Ramsey, The Jewish Independent
"This book is a 'must read' for anyone interested in women's and men's changing roles in Orthodoxy, and will spark many discussions at the Shabbat table and beyond".
-- Rachel Lieberman, The JOFA Journal
"This is a superb, well-researched and thoughtful book that investigates how Orthodox Jewish men respond to the new phenomenon of egalitarian religious services."
-- Prof. Israel Drazin, Books 'n Thoughts
"Sztokman's book gave me a lot to think about vis-à-vis Orthodoxy, as well as vis-à-vis my own sense of gender identity. Reading her book raised fascinating questions for me about what it means to me to be a Jewish woman in the Orthodox community, and the sort of Orthodoxy I like and don't like, and the qualities that I find attractive or expected in men – and why. I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in religious issues or gender issues; the forces at play in partnership synagogues extend far beyond these niche communities, tugging at the definitions of masculinity for men who live in a world populated by women, too."
-- Sarah Bronson, Chayyei Sarah Blog
“Although I never thought if it in the …terms that the author describes, the Orthodox "man-box" is truly as she describes.”
-- Shawn Ruby, Kol Haa’adam
“A clear-eyed and fearless analysis of what it means to be an Orthodox man in an increasingly egalitarian world.”
-- Helen Maryles Shankman, Goodreads (five stars)
"Feminism is not only about giving women expanded symbolic roles, it’s not just about giving women aliyot, but in changing the entire atmosphere and breaking down the ultimately harmful paradigm of the masculine ideal of what tefillah ought to look like."
"The Men's Section offers a thought-provoking...examination of contemporary Orthodox masculinity."
-- Yoel Finkelman, H-Net
"It is a fantastic piece of work. ...I am amazed that we overlooked this important piece of the whole picture for so many years. The book has shaped my thinking from the moment of my reading it forward into the present and future"
-- Blu Greenberg, founder of JOFA, author of On Women and Judaism: A View from Tradition
“For decades, those who support gender equality have believed that challenging Orthodox Judaism was a non-starter, an impossible dream. After all, aren’t these the guys whose morning prayer includes thanks for not being born a woman? And yet, from deep within the modern Orthodox temple come rumblings of change. Led initially by pioneering feminist women, Orthodox Jewish men are coming to see how gender equality is the fruition, not the antithesis, of their religious vision. This extraordinary book highlights the imperatives and the struggles towards that vision.”
— Prof Michael Kimmel, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, SUNY Stony Brook, author of Manhood in America
“The Men’s Section is an important book telling a surprising story. Turns out the Orthodox men in egalitarian minyans aren’t there just for their wives. They’re reshaping their own masculinity, and thereby transforming the men’s club that is orthodoxy, seeking fulfillment in feminist values of emotional connection, albeit in often unconscious and contradictory ways. By insightfully examining men as agents of change in the Jewish gender order, Sztokman contributes to courageous efforts to pursue greater Jewish gender justice.”
—Prof. Harry Brod, editor of A Mensch Among Men and Brother Keepers, Professor of Philosophy and World Religions, University of Northern Iowa