Rabbinical Assembly

Decades After The Amia Bombing, Still Searching For Justice

04/04/2016 - 12:12

For the third time in the past five years I found myself back this week in Buenos Aires, on business for the Rabbinical Assembly. I came to spend time with my colleagues in the Latin American region of the Rabbinical Assembly, a connection that was created during my presidency of the RA, and also to work with the leadership of the Seminario Rabbinico Latino Americano, the Jewish Theological Seminary's sister seminary in Argentina. The Seminario was founded by the late, great Rabbi Marshal Meyer, groundbreaking rabbi and champion of human rights and social justice in Argentina during the worst years of the Junta. Almost all of my Latin American colleagues studied for the rabbinate at the Seminario.

Courtesy Gerald C. Skolnik

As Communities Change, So Must Rabbis, And the Organizations that Serve Them

11/04/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Beginning last summer and continuing on throughout this year, the Rabbinical Assembly, the professional organization of Conservative rabbis, has been engaged in a process of “re-visioning,” evaluating how best to understand its function and serve its members. This process is both time and energy-intensive, and not something that the organization, of which I am the immediate past-President, undertakes lightly. The stakes are high, particularly at a time of challenge such as we are facing. If you’re going to do it, you’d better do it right.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Study: Conservative Rabbis Open To Officiating At Intermarriage

10/21/2015 - 20:00

A controversial new survey of Conservative rabbis shows that nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) would officiate at the marriage of a Jew and non-Jew if the Conservative movement lifted its prohibition on these unions.

study by Big Tent Judaism, “The Views and Practices of Conservative Rabbis on Issues Related to Interfaith Families

Prominent Conservative Rabbi Considers Breaking Intermarriage Ban

12/18/2014 - 19:00

For a few days at least, Rabbi Wesley Gardenswartz appeared ready to become the first prominent Conservative clergyman to break with the movement’s ironclad rule against rabbis performing intermarriages. But shortly after floating the idea to his congregants  at Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., one of the nation’s largest Conservative synagogues, he reversed course.

Reform Movement Mulls Leaving Presidents Conf. In Wake Of J Street Rejection

05/01/2014 - 20:00

WASHINGTON — Saying the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations needs an overhaul, the Union for Reform Judaism said leaving the umbrella body could be an option.

Pluralism In Prayer

10/17/2013 - 20:00

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.

Disagrees With Wertheimer

10/08/2013 - 20:00

As a Conservative Jew and a mohel certified by the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Rabbinical Assembly, in practice for more than 25 years, I was somewhat dismayed at the content of Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Not Too Late To Push In-Marriage?” (Sept. 13). While Professor [Jack] Wertheimer has done extensive work in gathering data on Jewish demographics, I am afraid that he “chooses and picks” his data to suit his points of view. I disagree that intermarried families have lower chances of raising committed Jews, and I believe my statistics and follow-ups prove him wrong.

Listen To The Music Of Prayer

08/08/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

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.

Lost and Found: Midwestern Kindness

08/01/2013 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

I've been on the road a lot lately. In addition to traveling to Israel for the Rabbinical Assembly convention in late June, I've spent at few days at the Jersey shore, and as I write this late on Thursday night, I'm actually in Buenos Aires for the second time this year, participating in an international conference of the Masorti/Conservative movement.  And while I'm here– the conference was scheduled around this other event– it was my great privilege this evening to participate in the Tekkes Hasmachah, the rabbinical ordination ceremony, of the graduating rabbis at the Seminario Rabbinico Latino Americano, the Conservative Movement's sister seminary in Argentina.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Peres With Streisand And Clinton: Turning 90 With Style

06/20/2013 - 20:00

The annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international professional association of Conservative/Masorti rabbis, will take place this coming week in Jerusalem.  In my capacity as President of the RA, as it’s commonly referred to, it will be my great honor to formally introduce Shimon Peres, the President of the State of Israel, at a reception that he is hosting for us in his official residence, known as Beit Hannasi.

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