A Rabbi's World

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

On The Kotel Compromise: Non-Orthodox Streams Deserve Funding, Not Just Gestures

02/03/2016 - 10:21
Jewish Week Online Columnist

The decision this week by Israel’s governing Cabinet to formally approve a proposal accommodating non-Orthodox, egalitarian prayer at the Kotel – the remaining Western Wall of the ancient Jerusalem Temple – has evoked passionate, but predictable, responses.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Hardest Questions Are Rarely New

01/29/2016 - 10:35
Jewish Week Online Columnist

In one of the sadder episodes of my rabbinate, I officiated recently at the funeral of a young soldier in the American army who died suddenly of natural causes. The death was, to understate the case dramatically, a horrific shock to the soldier’s family, and to all of us who knew him and his family through the years. His death was a great tragedy.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

It’s All About Tradition, On The Stage, And Under The Chuppah

01/22/2016 - 11:34
Jewish Week Online Columnist

At the wedding I attended in Washington last weekend, I had a rare and precious chance to sit with my wife, among the guests, as a guest.

It doesn’t happen all that often. Most commonly, I am at weddings as the officiating rabbi. I’m worrying about who has the rings, do the bride and groom remember their lines, is there a glass to break under the huppah, and other details that people just assume take care of themselves. But in this instance, as a long-time friend of the bride’s parents, I could just sit back and watch the warmth and charm of the traditional Jewish wedding work its magic. And I was, anew, amazed at how arcane rituals that Jews have been practicing for literally thousands of years can still resonate with such rich meaning in this very different time.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

When Every Need Is Pressing: Meeting With An NYC Councilmember

01/13/2016 - 13:28
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Through the good offices of my local New York City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, I had the opportunity some months ago, along with the local Jewish leadership of Central Queens, to meet Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, the Councilwoman from neighboring Corona who also currently serves as the Chair of the powerful Committee on Finance of the New York City Council. Although the meeting was not organized for the purpose of advancing individual pet projects, it nonetheless attracted, as one would expect, a great deal of interest among local Jewish leaders.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

When They Say, Don't Go To The Old City

01/07/2016 - 17:52
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Just a few days ago, my wife Robin and I returned from a brief but wonderful trip to Israel. As I wrote in this space before we left, there was no specific business, professional or family obligation that was bringing us there. We just wanted to visit the country that we love, see family and gain a more accurate sense of what it’s like to be in Israel at a difficult and stressful time for the country and its citizens.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Trump: Not a Joke Any More

12/09/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Since he entered the race for the Republican nomination for President months ago, Donald Trump’s candidacy has been the greatest gift that late night television comedians could have hoped for. From Jimmy Fallon to John Stewart to Jimmy Kimmel, and virtually every week on Saturday Night Live, Trump’s increasingly grandiose bellowing has been a comedian’s dream. He has been the proverbial well that never runs dry, a sure-fire laugh every time.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Palestinian Hatred: What Are You Teaching Your Children?

12/02/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Around the time when smoking was officially labeled a serious health hazard, one of the first of many television commercials was produced to try and convince people to quit. It featured a father and young child outside on a beautiful spring day, with the child imitating everything the father did. The father took off his jacket, and the child took his off. The father smelled a flower, and the child did the same.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Seeking Solace: A Normally Small Interfaith Service Draws Triple The Crowd

11/24/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

For many years now, the Interfaith Clergy Group of Forest Hills, of which I am a proud member, has sponsored an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving. Historically, the service has rotated among the participating houses of worship. For reasons of logistics and space availability, this year’s service was held in our sanctuary here at the Forest Hills Jewish Center for the second consecutive year.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Paris And Jerusalem

11/18/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

A few days ago, as we were all struggling to regain our equilibrium following the horrific carnage in Paris, an item appeared on Facebook that caught my eye and made me think. It was a simple graphic that read as follows: Paris, 13/11; New York, 11/9; Israel, 24/7.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Veterans Day And Us: Let’s Pray Equally For American And Israeli Soldiers

11/12/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

It is unquestionably true that, since 9/11, Americans have fundamentally and consciously changed the way they relate to veterans who have served in the military, and particularly those who are currently serving.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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