Cover image for Searching for my brothers : Jewish men in a gentile world
Searching for my brothers : Jewish men in a gentile world
Salkin, Jeffrey K., 1954-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 244 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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Item Holds
BM725 .S25 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In his powerful new book, Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin links his memories of growing up Jewish in an all-American suburb to relevant stories from early Judaism, successfully defining a foundation of ethics and spirituality for consideration in everyday life. He goes on to apply these thoughts to controversial topics such as anti-Semitism, lust and sexuality, and circumcision. In the end, Rabbi Salkin delivers a thought-provoking, emotional, and spiritual resource.Written for today's Jewish man and those who love him, Searching for My Brothers is appropriate for anyone contemplating the meaning of being a man.

Author Notes

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the senior rabbi of Long Island's Community Synagogue. He is the author of Putting God on the Guest List and Being God's Partner , praised by Thomas Moore as "an exemplary blend of religion and contemporary life." Rabbi Salkin lives in Port Washington, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Rabbi Salkin examines Jewish history and thought as well as contemporary sociology and psychology in an attempt to help Jewish men redefine their sense of masculinity. "Jewish men need to talk about what it means to be a Jew and a man in our times, and their organizations need to reimagine and reinvent themselves," Salkin posits. Author of three other books, Salkin maintains that in the popular culture of the West, Jewish men have often been portrayed as being something less than the masculine ideal. In searching for answers, Salkin quotes from such sources as the Hebrew Bible, the Midrash, the Talmud, and the renowned poet Hayim Bialik. The author's study of masculinity in Judaism is a readable and important work. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Jewish men are in trouble," declares Reform Rabbi Salkin (Putting God on the Guest List), arguing that, despite the religion's patriarchal nature, Jewish men should delve into their identity the way Jewish feminists have done over the past generation. His exploration is thought provoking but incomplete, relying mainly on biblical interpretation with a few dollops of memoir. The biblical story of Abraham and Isaac, he observes, enshrines the latter as the classic passive Jewish man, yet the relationship of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro, is "the essence of bonding between men." He provides a too-brief exploration of how Zionism represents a rebellion against Jewish emasculation. Better are his musings on what Judaism says about lust: learn to channel the good energy that comes with the bad. Concerning ambition, he advocates finding a balance and using the Sabbath as a place of purity. He suggests a useful reconceptualization of the bar mitzvah ritual incorporating physical, spiritual and community rites of passage. And he argues that, although God is beyond gender, "the image of God as father can actually teach men about fatherhood." The book would benefit from a consideration of Jewish masculinity in Orthodox communities or contemporary secular Israel. In addition, despite occasional mentions of Jewish figures such as Sandy Koufax or the wrestler Goldberg, Salkin does little to assess the portrayal of Jewish men in literature, film and other forms of pop culture. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This important book deals with what it means to be Jewish and male in contemporary Western society. Salkin chronicles the history of Jewish masculinity from the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. through the post-Temple period, when Judaism became a religious system in which each man could be a "priest" in his own home and study the TorahÄand beyond. "This," says Salkin, "is the Jewish moral journey: from the warriors who fought with spears to the sages who fought with Torah, from swords to words." Most of the world would disdain this new image as "unmanly"; 20 centuries later, he argues, Zionism emerged as both a nationalism and a rebellion against images of the weak and effeminate Jew. Passages from the Tanakh and Mishnah are used to explore issues of Jewish masculinity, and although Salkin takes certain liberties (like reading psychological motives into the minds of biblical characters), he does no violence to the historical context. He also offers helpful commentary and advice to Jewish men about relationships, ambition, and sexuality. The chapter on circumcision is especially important; Salkin refutes many of the arguments that malign the practice. Unreservedly recommended for all libraries.ÄLoren Rosson III, Nashua P.L., NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Notes on Religious Textsp. x
Introductionp. 1
Chapter I Searching for My Brothers: A Personal Journeyp. 11
Chapter II "It Is Not Good for Man to Be Alone": What the Bible Teaches about Masculinityp. 23
Chapter III "A Hero or Sage": the Rabbis Re-Create the Jewish Manp. 53
Chapter IV Israel, Our Manhoodp. 69
Chapter V Iron Jew?: Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Manp. 89
Chapter VI The Struggle Within: Lust and Sexualityp. 101
Chapter VII Danger: Men at Workp. 127
Chapter VIII The Unkindest Cut?: the Bris Reconsideredp. 161
Chapter IX Today I Am a Man: Bar Mitzvah Reconsideredp. 179
Chapter X "Our Father, Our King": a Male God is not as Bad as You Thinkp. 211
Notesp. 229
Bibliographyp. 233
Indexp. 237