CCAR Convention

Gender Issues are Mens’ Issues

As we are about to reconvene in dinners focused on an aspect of gender identity at the CCAR in Chicago, I remember my obligation to write a small piece about why a group of men got together to talk about gender issues at the CCAR last year, in 2013.

As we aim to bring real egalitarianism to our synagogues, Reform Judaism, and our countries, it has become abundantly clear that when men and women progress through the same jobs, equality in treatment, pay, and benefits works to everyone’s advantage. We must enlist men to see that gender issues affect everyone, including men.

Here are three issues that come to mind immediately that impact women and men as rabbis:

  • When a woman gets paid less in a job than a man who may then succeed her in that job, we have lowered the pay standards for both men and women.
  • When standards are different for men and women because of benefits that may come from partners, organizations’ standards for offering benefits may drop as well.
  • Expectations and treatment of partners differ based on gender.
  • Many of these issues were raised in the last month by President Obama and are also discussed in an article from Slate last year.

These issues are complicated. That doesn’t remove from us the obligation of working to proceed in a more-fair-for-all direction, especially as we encourage egalitarian parenting too.

These issues already exist in our movement. Some have been discussed on RavKav. I believe very strongly that we need to begin to create a system of principles on these issues from which we can negotiate reasonable and fair outcomes in our constituent organizations.

The CCAR is responsible for leading the way on social issues for all of our rabbis. Men must recognize that gender issues are our issues, so that we can truly bring equality to all.

Thanks for reading, if you have so far, I look forward to figuring out ways to participate in moving forward on these issues.

Happy Spring to all,


Rabbi Jonathan Freirich serves as associate rabbi at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC.