Gerald C. Skolnik

Does Silence Signal Agreement? The Limits of Self Restraint

07/02/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In the Babylonian Talmud, the ancient rabbis taught that silence, while a sign of humility and often wisdom, can also have a darker side. Sh’tika k’hoda’ah damei, they said. Remaining silent can, in the wrong circumstance, indicate your agreement with or surrender to what has been said. Silence can be a two-faced sword.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that ancient teaching lately.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

A New and Wonderful Experience

06/25/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

It is most unusual for me to be away from my synagogue for two consecutive weekends, but this is one of those times. Last week I was in Jerusalem, attending the Zionist Congress. This week, far away from Jerusalem, I am writing from Newport, Rhode Island, where my son-in-law Yoni, entering his final year in the Rabbinical School at the Jewish Theological Seminary, is receiving his commission from the United States Navy as a Navy Chaplain.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

On Parashat Sh’lah Lekha And the Gaza Flotilla Incident

06/11/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

What follows is the sermon I delivered in my synagogue in Forest Hills last week. I wanted to share it with you because it is a more thorough treatment of the subject than I could do in a briefer piece, and I think it important. I hope you will as well.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Of Learning and Teaching

05/28/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

I spent the past week at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative rabbis. This year, it was held at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, the academy from which the overwhelming percentage of RA members were graduated and ordained.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

What Will It Take? The Fight for Religious Pluralism in Israel

Israel is perilously close to lawlessness, at least in regard to Haredi Jews feeling that violence against Jews who are different from them is not only understandable, but also warranted.

05/14/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Just a day or two ago, a young Israeli woman named Noa Raz, a product of the Masorti movement and its NOAM youth program, was physically assaulted by a Haredi Jew in the Central Bus Station in Beer Sheva.

Were the story to stop there it would be bad enough, but it gets worse.

Why was Noa assaulted? Because the Haredi Jew, a man, saw the marks left by her tefillin straps that morning. Noa prays with tefillin in the morning, as do many women in the Conservative and Masorti movements. That was her  “provocation.”

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Seeing Beyond the Immediate in the Synagogue

04/30/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Of the many things that I admire my wife for, one (surely not the most significant) is her ability to walk into an empty room in a house and imagine how it might or ought to look with furniture and everything else that makes up a room. The couch can go there, the rocker there, that painting over there… it’s this remarkable ability to see beyond what presents right now and have an image of what it might be.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

We Grieve as We Have Loved

04/22/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Though it is now almost thirty years ago, I still remember the first time I heard my esteemed predecessor in the Forest Hills Jewish Center, the late Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser, deliver a eulogy. In his closing comments, he said to the grieving family members that grief is the mirror image of love. That is to say, people tend to grieve according to how they have loved. The greater the love they had for the person who died, the greater the pain they feel.

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the truth is that it’s anything but…

Remembering What Truly Matters

If the current administration in Washington is sincere in its stated goal of working aggressively to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the days and months ahead will be even more difficult and confusing than the past few weeks have been.

04/15/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Following last week's somber ceremonies marking Yom Hashoa, Israel will, on this coming Monday, observe its annual Yom Hazikaron, a solemn memorial day for her fallen soldiers. Rare is the family in Israel that does not know someone who has died in Israel's defense, or have a family member who has. And then, on Monday evening, the celebration of Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day, will begin.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik
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