Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Jewish Boys in Crisis

JTA offers solutions to a problem that doesn’t seem to exist

Print Email

In an article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Amy Klein riffs on a recent spate of secular books tackling the troubled state of modern boyhood, asking, “Are Jewish boys in crisis?” While she initially concludes that, first, that’s too simple a question and, second, the answer would likely be “no,” Klein goes on to address the Jewish boys’ crisis throughout her article, gradually revealing it as that most recognizable and reportedly pervasive of crises: boys are not engaging sufficiently in Jewish life, stirring fears in the community not for their general success and achievement but for Jewish continuity.

Malina Saval, author of The Secret Lives of Boys, discusses one Jewish kid from her book, a 15-year-old Hebrew-school teaching assistant recovering from a drug addiction. Klein asks: “How could this self-reflective, hyper-intellectual, culturally aware, music- and fashion-obsessed nonconformist have gotten into drugs at such a young age?” Maybe things have changed since we were in high school, but that question sort of answers itself. That is, unless Klein’s descriptor—intellectual, aware, etc.—is simply code for “Jewish.” And although Michael Gurian, author of The Purpose of Boys, says of Jewish boys, “I wouldn’t say they’re in crisis in the same way other boys are in crisis,” he has started a program to help them specifically, through his synagogue in Spokane, Washington.

While the books the article jumps off from address problems like drugs, teenage fatherhood, and school dropout rates, the Jewish angle brings it back to boys not wanting to do extra homework for Hebrew school. One solution it suggests: Using the tactics of Christian bible-study programs, a new organization aimed at helping boys with this “crisis” attempts to suck them in by having them do, as one participant’s father puts it, “guys’ guy stuff” with Jews. We can just imagine the pitch: “Hey, nice slam dunk, Josh! Have you thought about whether you’ll circumcise your son?”

Are Jewish Boys in Crisis? [JTA]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Jewish Boys in Crisis

JTA offers solutions to a problem that doesn’t seem to exist

More on Tablet:

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

By Yair Rosenberg — The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview