A Rabbi's World

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

Shabbat Zachor, 2015

02/27/2015
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The Shabbat immediately preceding the festival of Purim has long been referred to as Shabbat Zachor– literally, the Shabbat of Remember (exclamation point!). It takes that title from the opening word of the special Maftir – a supplementary Torah reading in Deuteronomy– read from a second scroll. It  commands us­– the Jewish people­– to remember the ancient treachery of Amalek, and never to forget it.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

'Dear' Barack, It Wasn't Random

02/12/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Dear Mr. President:

Over the past two weeks, to the consternation of a good many of my colleagues and friends, I have strongly defended both the integrity of your office and the legitimacy of your dismay with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu by publicly, and unequivocally, calling upon him to cancel his forthcoming address to a joint session of our Congress. For a wide variety of reasons, chief among them the insertion of Israel as a wedge issue in American politics and the public contempt being shown for you and the material support that you have shown Israel throughout your presidency, I believed the Prime Minister to be making a serious mistake.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Haters Gonna Hate

02/05/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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I am not, as a rule, bothered by people who disagree with me, either publicly or privately. Were I to be, I would not have lasted for thirty-three-plus years in the pulpit rabbinate, and certainly not in the same synagogue. Almost by definition, rabbis who take strong positions on the issues of the day, be they moral/ethical or political, related to their own synagogues or to the world at large, will generate disagreement from those who look to them for guidance but see the situation differently. That is entirely the way it should be.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

'Dear' Bibi, Don't Do It

Your acceptance of the House Speaker's invitation to speak before Congress as unconscionably arrogant.

01/30/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Dear Mr. Prime Minister:

The news of your impending visit to deliver an address to a joint session of our Congress, at the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boehner, has generated a major controversy here in America, both within and outside of the Jewish community. I know that it is a subject of much discussion in Israel as well. My reason for writing is simple. I am, with the greatest of respect for your office and your responsibilities, asking you to reconsider your visit, and not deliver the address.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

What’s Wrong With This Selfie?

01/22/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Unless you were in a cave this week or otherwise out of touch with the world, you will surely have heard or read about the great ‘selfie incident” at the Miss Universe pageant.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

France And The Jewish Problem

01/15/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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Even with the passage of a few days since the awful events in Paris last week, a lingering sense of horror and dismay continues to invade the bodies politic of the western world. And why would it not? What happened in Paris was grotesque and terrifying, with implications that will not disappear even if ignored.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Police Vs. Civilians, In NYC, And Jerusalem

01/09/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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There are aspects of spending time in Israel that can take one completely out of a “New York state of mind,” and refreshingly so. For all the problems that Israel has, and there are many, I have yet to spend time there without experiencing one or two encounters with people that are so unlike life here in New York, and I treasure them.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

We Need A Little Chanukah

12/18/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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It is difficult, if not impossible, to walk into a store at this time of year without being subjected to mind-numbing Christmas Musack playing in the background, just soft enough that you can speak over it, but also just loud enough that you can’t help but hear it. I assume that the intention is to put shoppers in the “Christmas spirit,” and make them spend more. I doubt that it has any positive effect in that regard. The message, though, comes through loud and clear in ways both liminal and subliminal: “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

At Long Last, Home From Okinawa

12/12/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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My wife Robin and I are blessed with four children; as she is fond of saying, we have “one of each.” In raising them, we have come to understand the true miracle of creation.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Israel's Politics, America's Jews

12/04/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist
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As I write, the government of Israel is literally in the process of dissolving itself, as a vote taken in the Knesset mandated that it do. New elections will be held this coming March. Metaphorically, Israel's government has been dissolving itself without benefit of Knesset action, slowly and tortuously, step by painstaking step, over the past few weeks.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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