The roles of Jewish men in terms of religion, community and family life have been a source of debate amongst researchers and academics throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century. Male and female roles in Judaism are traditionally separate, but the lines between the genders are now blurred as women have taken a more prominent role in the public and private lives of the Jewish family.
For many centuries the religion of Judaism taught Jewish families the roles of men and women were separate and should remain so, according to Mishpacha. Male roles were taught to be the public face of a family within the community and known as Mishnah. In contrast, female roles were based in the home and did not extend to religious or professional roles in the community. Traditionally men have been seen in the Jewish community as the leader of a family earning money and guiding the future of each family member.
The members of communities commonly known as Orthodox Jewish people remain most closely linked to the traditional roles of men in Jewish society, according to Mishacha. However, even in these communities that regard the male role in society as the dominant one the roles of men are changing; more women now study the Torah and they have begun taking the lead role in the religious study of their children, the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs reports. In Orthodox Judaism the male still carries the public face of the family and represents them in daily religious study and business life.
The roles of men in Jewish society have been shaped by the changing attitudes to gender roles in the 20th century. While Orthodox Jewish males remain dominant, non-Orthodox sects allow women take on stronger roles in both the family and the community. The traditional male role in religious life began to change with ordination of female rabbi's in the 1970s and 80s by conservative and reform groups. Men are being overtaken in professional life with more Jewish women being educated in professional fields. Women are taking a more public role and pushing men into the home, according to the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs.
Men are usually seen in a traditional view of Judaism as teachers for the male children in a family and are required to set an example of behavior accepted by Judaism. The Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs reports the number of men attending religious services has fallen in the first part of the 21st century, leading to the role of teacher passing to female members of the community. Men are required to volunteer and take up important roles within their local Jewish community; but the number of male volunteers is also falling, leading to opportunities for women.