Forest Hills Jewish Center

We Are the People in Your Neighborhood: What A Synagogue Really Is

03/21/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time talking about my synagogue with other rabbis and laypeople. It is a natural thing for professionals and lay leaders to share “war stories” about the institutions that play such important roles in their lives, and often times, the insights gained are invaluable. Usually there are more than a few laughs that accompany this sharing, as we inevitably discover how universal certain synagogue characteristics are, both for better and for less good.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Watching the Light Bulb Turn On

12/20/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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For most of my thirty-two years as the rabbi of the Forest Hills Jewish Center, I have been teaching a weekly class to our Hebrew High School students who attend public high schools. 

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens.

Listen To The Music Of Prayer

08/09/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
Story Includes Video: 
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Although those who daven (pray) regularly rarely think of it in these terms because they take it so for granted, music plays an irreducibly crucial role in Jewish prayer 

On the most basic level, if the proper nusach, or musical mode, is being used by a Hazzan or other prayer leader, a knowledgeable Jew will, immediately upon entering a synagogue prayer service, be able to tell whether it is a Shabbat, holiday, or weekday, or, for that matter, one of the High Holidays.  The words that make up our prayer book are not “said,” per se, but chanted, according to traditional customs and melodies that often date back thousands of years.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik is spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center.

Sprucing Up For Yom Tov

09/11/2012
Staff Writer

For members of a synagogue, the preparation for the High Holy Days season starts weeks, if not months before Rosh HaShanah.

In some congregations, there are the daily selichot prayers that are recited during the month of Elul that precedes Tishrei, and additions to the daily worship services. There is increased giving of tzedakah and the performance of good deeds. For some, a new machzor; for others, a new outfit.

For rabbis, sermons to write.

For cantors and choirs, melodies to rehearse. For the synagogue itself, there’s also a period of preparation.

Photo By Michael Datikash
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