Gerald C. Skolnik

Arguments for the Sake of Heaven… And Not

07/27/2016 - 12:19

It is well known that the single greatest Jewish legal text, the Talmud, is built on a foundation of disagreements. In fact, those disagreements were indispensable to the eventual adjudication of the laws themselves, because the truth that was to inform the law was ultimately found in the dialectic of the dialogues of the discussants.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

American Politics, Israeli Politics… Pick Your Poison

06/01/2016 - 13:58

Regarding the long simmering ill will between the governments of Israel and the United States, I am reminded of the pithy yet profound rabbinic comment on the episode of the Binding of Isaac in Genesis. In assessing whose behavior is more difficult to comprehend, Abraham, with his blind obedience to God’s terrifying command, or Isaac, who utters not a word though he intuits exactly what is happening, the rabbis commented simply “zeh lishhot, v’zeh lishahet.” “One was determined to slaughter, and the other was determined to be slaughtered.” Neither party is beyond reproach.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Post-Denominational Politics

05/19/2016 - 10:36
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Those who labor in the vineyards of the American Jewish community will readily attest to what sociologists have long known from their research: namely, that denominational affiliation among American Jews, particularly the non-Orthodox denominations, is waning.

Sanders supporters at a rally. Getty Images

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

03/20/2014 - 20:00
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
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