A Rabbi's World

Weekly reflections from Gerald C. Skolnik, the rabbi of Forest Hills Jewish Center and a leader in the Conservative movement.

Our Synagogue In Har Nof

In this generation, we are required to see ourselves as if we personally were in that synagogue when the murderers entered.

11/21/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Early in the 1980’s, when the AIDS epidemic was in its early stages and few people really understood what AIDS was or how it was transmitted, a particularly awful episode of fear-driven hatred was visited upon a family in Arcadia, Florida. Their house was intentionally burned down by arsonists, and it was made clear that, because one member of the household had AIDS, the family was no longer welcome in Arcadia. The family, for reasons both physical and spiritual, had no choice but to leave.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Veteran's Day: In My Sixties, And During The Sixties

11/13/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Reflecting this year on the significance of Veterans Day from the vantage point of my sixties, I find it to be an unsettling experience, and not for the first time. I had the same experience during the sixties.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Ballad Of Barack And Bibi

11/06/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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There have been more than a few moments during the past two weeks when watching the disturbingly public spat between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has felt uncomfortably like watching Rocky VI (or whatever number they’re up to). The two combatants, bloodied but not bowed, keep coming at each other, each daring the other to deliver a knockout blow, but neither quite able to do so.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Learning To Pray ... From Churches

10/31/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Compare and contrast:

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way,
Well, I got down on my knees, and I began to pray …

         The Mamas and the Papas

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Barry Freundel: A Rabbi's Perspective

10/22/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Although I live in the world of words and communication is generally considered to be my strong suit, I, like so many others, am at a loss to adequately express my dismay, disgust, and profound sadness over the recent revelations of voyeurism at the mikvah in Washington, D.C. My dismay is only compounded by the fact that Rabbi Freundel, the popular and accomplished rabbi of the prominent Orthodox synagogue Kesher Israel who allegedly perpetrated this crime, was a college classmate of mine at Yeshiva University. We lived only a few doors down from each other in the dorm all those years ago. I knew him well then. It seems that no one really knew him all that well now.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Living In Suspended Animation

10/02/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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The ancient rabbis referred to the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by a number of names. One, “bein Kesseh Le’Asor,” means between Kesseh (the full moon, Psalm 81), another name for Rosh Hashanah in the Torah, and Asor, “the tenth,” meaning of course Yom Kippur, which falls on the tenth of Tishrei. The other, more commonly used phrase is the Asseret Y’mei T’shuvah- literally, the ten days of penitence.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Thought For The New Year

09/19/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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I don’t anticipate having a chance to write for next week’s paper– the week of Rosh Hashanah is just a little busy for rabbis in the pulpit– so I hope you’ll indulge me in sharing a thought that, though a few days early for the holiday itself, is actually timely for the Shabbat of S’lichot, the penitential prayers recited on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Why Are We Still Arguing About Domestic Violence?

09/12/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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With the revelation this week of a video clearly and unambiguously showing former Baltimore Raven football player Ray Rice punching his wife in a casino elevator in Atlantic City, knocking her unconscious, and then unceremoniously dragging her out of the elevator, a whole host of disturbing questions have come to the fore.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Consider The Parents Of Converts -- To Judaism

09/03/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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What would you do if your child married out of Judaism?

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Simchat Bat Among Christians

08/29/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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The end of our stay in Okinawa, where my wife and I had been staying with our daughter and son-in-law upon the birth of their first child, coincided with the arrival of my son-in-law’s parents. Our brief overlap allowed all us to be present for our granddaughter Calanit’s Simhat Bat, the ceremony in which she was formally welcomed into the community of Israel, and the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people. 

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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