cover image A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity

A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity

Harry Brod. Crossing Press, $10.95 (187pp) ISBN 978-0-89594-265-4

This outgrowth of an issue, edited by Brod, of Changing Men magazine, provides a forum for a seminal and provocative, if not comprehensive, collection by male and female authors, rabbis and committed secularists, that explores the Jewish man within a contemporary feminist context. In his sparkling contribution, Larry Bush courageously probes his feelings about homosexuals upon his discovery that a gay writer shares the same byline; and Ms. editor Pogrebin perceptively attempts to reconcile her mythic perfect father with his actual counterparta selfish, aloof patriarch who personified Judaism in her eyes. If Barbara Gottfried's examination of Philip Roth's male protagonists is academic, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi's treatment of circumcision, sappy, and Andrea Dworkin's discussion of the sexual mythology of anti-Semitism, rambling and insufficiently substantiated (she asserts that Israel was ``very largely influenced in its formation by men who came from a population some of which had been castrated by the Nazis''), there is also much that is welcome and refreshing here. Particularly noteworthy are essays that maintain adoptive fathers are ``real'' fathers; that link Jewish male oppression of Jewish women to internalized anti-Semitism; and that question: ``Is our hidden God really a God men have constructed in their own image, a God who maintains his power by not revealing himself, as men maintain their power . . . ?'' (May)