Every #metoo scandal is different, but most are alike in at least one way: Whether among Hollywood moguls or Southern Baptists, congressmen or Catholic bishops, the fall of prominent men usually accelerates some pre-existing debate about where the larger institution or culture should be going, and which side of its internal arguments deserves to gain.

Lately the American Jewish community has presented an interesting case study, with the series of accusations against Steven M. Cohen, a sociologist who has spent much of his career studying the demography of American Jewish life, and linking trends in Jewish intermarriage and fertility to his people’s cultural continuity.

In answering his accusers Cohen has embraced the clichés of male big shot contrition — promising a “consultation with clergy, therapists and professional experts” and “a process of education, recognition, remorse and repair.” But meanwhile, his fall has inspired a critique not only of his behavior but also his life’s work, with three female historians writing in The Forward that his sexual sins should prompt a larger reappraisal of “the troubling gender and sexual politics long embedded in communal discussions of Jewish continuity and survival.”