Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

The London Jewish Community: Just Fine, Thank You!

02/14/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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I left London this past Tuesday morning after a long weekend and wonderful Shabbat there, and landed in Madrid this afternoon, preparing to meet up with the Conference of Presidents mission here.  If anyone asks you what London and Madrid have in common besides both being in Europe, the answer is that, right at this moment, they're both cold and wet! 

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

Reflections at Arlington National Cemetery

01/02/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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With two of our four children home over the December holiday break, my wife and I decided to go “old school” with them and take a road trip.

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

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.

Prayer: A Path To Gratitude In A Time Of Anxiety

12/06/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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With Thanksgiving barely a week behind us and Chanukah just ending, it seems a particularly appropriate moment to reflect on this year’s most unusual juxtaposition of sacred and secular celebrations. Beyond the kitsch of “Thanksgivukah,” as so many referred to it, there is a common thread between the two holidays, and it is a significant one. Both are about gratitude.

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

Beyond The Benefit Of The Doubt

10/31/2013
Jewish Week Correspondent
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My family knows well that the Rob Reiner/Aaron Sorkin film “The American President” is one of my all-time favorites. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve watched it, and during particularly difficult times in this country, notably after the events of 9/11, it served as a source of comfort. 

As he would later do so magnificently in “The West Wing,” Sorkin painted a picture of politicians and government who were able to transcend the innumerable temptations to compromise principles for expediency, and actually even reach greatness.

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

Pluralism In Prayer

10/18/2013
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In advance of last week’s Biennial Convention of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in Baltimore, I attended a pre-convention Shabbaton- a kind of optional add-on for those who were inclined.  (My wife had intended to come, but sadly, Amtrakhad other plans).  As President of the Rabbinical Assembly, I thought it was an important opportunity to “reach across the aisle,” if you will, and spend Shabbat with my friends and colleagues in the synagogue arm of the Conservative movement.

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

Yes, Congress is Embarrassing …But That’s Not the Worst Of It

10/04/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Woody Allen used to say that telling jokes to an audience that’s drunk or stoned guarantees you nothing more than cheap laughs. Anything will be funny to those people, because they’re “under the influence.”  Their judgment is impaired.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Matching Words With Actions: The Next Act With Syria

09/23/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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With the High Holidays in our metaphorical rear view mirror and Sukkot already upon us, the change in atmospheric pressure, both literal and figurative, is very much apparent.  Autumn is in the air. 

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Shutting Out The Noise: The Quiet Work Of Repentance

08/30/2013
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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I’ve always loved the story in First Kings about Elijah and his triumph over the priests of Baal.  Like so much of the literature of the Early Prophets, this episode reads like an action adventure novel.  The Israelite prophets waged a long and taxing battle against the powerful allure of the indigenous Canaanite cultic life that the Israelites discovered when they conquered the land.  Elijah’s victory was a great moment in that struggle.

Spiritually, the appearance of God to Elijah in a kol d’mammah dakkah– a still, small voice– is particularly rich.  After all the sturm und drang of the story itself, the fact that God’s “voice,” as it were, became audible to Elijah is the quietest of ways, as opposed to via the loudness of the natural events that preceded the revelation, has always been meaningful to me.  God is in the quiet as much as the noise… maybe more.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Elul In A Time Of Social Media

08/15/2013
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That I spend a lot of time thinking about community should hardly come as a surprise, since being a congregational rabbi is all about fostering a sense of community.  I want the members of my congregation to feel that their synagogue is a second home for them.  And, of course, the synagogue itself needs to relate to the larger community as a whole. 

When all is said and done, this is my work– my professional responsibility.  Yes, of course I teach, and preach, officiate at weddings and funerals, and do all the other things that pulpit rabbis do.  That, too, is my work.  But it all flows from a larger sense of “belonging” that hopefully is what binds my members to our particular synagogue setting.

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