Gerald Skolnik

Yet Another Sad Goodbye…Sen. Edward Kennedy

08/28/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

It was just two weeks ago that I shared my sadness at the death of Eunice Shriver Kennedy- a great woman whose death impoverished us all.  And now we have learned of the death of her brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, after a valiant struggle with brain cancer.

Anticipating Tishrei

09/03/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

It’s been so long since I celebrated the High Holidays as a layperson that I’ve almost forgotten what it felt like.  Truth to tell, I miss the chance to have those precious days be cathartic for me personally, as opposed to being focused on making them cathartic for others.  The pressure on rabbis and cantors to “be at their best” during this season is enormous, for all the obvious reasons.  As my nephew would say, “it is what it is.”

Accepting Adulthood… Finally

09/11/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Without really preparing for it last week - you’d think that I would have known better, being in this line of work and all - I came upon a significant marker in the road, and an unsettling realization.  My childhood is over.  It’s a strange realization to come to now, given that I have four children, and a grandchild to boot.  But it took a moment of reflection during our morning synagogue service for me to get there.

Sharing a Painful Message: Needed - Sane Voices for Israel

09/24/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

In lieu of a regular posting this week, I am sharing with you the message that I delivered in my own congregation in Forest Hills on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

I do so because it speaks to a subject that I think needs to be on our communal agenda, and about which I feel passionately: how and about what we in the Jewish community disagree, and its implications for our relationship with the world as a whole, and particularly with Israel.

I wish you all a g’mar hatimah tovah…

Easing on Down the Road…Sukkot is All Uplift

10/02/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

The days between Yom Kippur and the beginning of Sukkot offer a welcome opportunity for a change of mood.

Lives of Quiet Desperation

10/09/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Henry David Thoreau famously said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.  I never really understood that line when I first read it many years ago, and as I was growing into maturity, it always seemed to me a bleak assessment of the human condition.  ”Quiet desperation” seemed to negate the very possibility of living a meaningful if not joyous life.  In my youth, hearing those words made me feel distant at best from what Thoreau was trying to say.

But Seriously… Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize

10/16/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry that cited my second day Rosh Hashanah sermon.  It defended President Obama from what I consider ill-advised attacks against him, caustic and often personal attacks not grounded in any reality.  As I see it, he’s a relatively untested politician in a terribly difficult job in a ridiculously difficult time, doing the best he can.  The jury is out on him, and time alone will tell.  (Yes, Mr. Safire a”h, too many clichés, but they are all perfectly appropriate!).

Noah and the 21st Century

10/23/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

This coming Shabbat, in synagogues around the world, the story of Noah will be read and discussed, as it has been for thousands of years.

The great medieval exegete Rashi famously cited a timeless discussion in the Talmud about just how virtuous Noah really was.  One sage said that it mattered not a whit what generation Noah was born in- he would have stood out as a great man regardless of time and place.  Another differed, and said that had Noah been born, say, in the generation of Abraham, he would not have been seen as exceptional.

At Home in Forest Hills

10/30/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

The title of this blog entry is an intentional riff on the charming and wonderful 

Genesis, Again!

11/06/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

I have a friend who’s a plasma physicist.  He’s brilliant- really brilliant- and divides much of his time between the finer points of cold fusion and developing alternative energy sources (may he only succeed!).

When we first met about thirty years ago, this friend, who is Jewish, wasn’t all that into synagogue.  He famously commented to my wife and me that coming to synagogue every Shabbat was sort of like going to the same play every week… same script, same actors, same ending.  Groundhog Day for Jews.

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