A Rabbi's World

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

Yom Hashoah Reflections 2016-5776

If the Passover Haggadah, drove our imaginations with four questions, a relatively meager text and some clever if enigmatic songs, then what might we possibly say about the Shoah that would be adequate to the task at hand?

05/05/2016 - 11:32

For my column this week, I would like to share with you the comments I made at our synagogue’s annual Yom Hashoah program on Wednesday evening. They are, in every way, what I would want to say to all of you on this occasion…

Pictures from a 2005 trip to Auschwitz. Courtesy of Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Imperative of Empathy

04/28/2016 - 11:23

Every year, as Passover arrives and I review the Haggadah in advance of yet another set of Seders, I struggle with the true significance of this holiday. This year was no different… just more so.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Moses, The Reluctant Leader

04/14/2016 - 11:27
Special To The Jewish Week

The endless volume of visual images and audio clips that are a part of our daily reality in a modern political season make it virtually impossible that a non-mediagenic personality could ever be elected to the high office of the presidency. It is sad but true that looks, charisma, and the ability to raise huge amounts of money matter at least as much in politics these days as do thoughtfulness and ideas, much less personal integrity. A seasoned, knowledgeable, and reflective candidate of either major political party will not necessarily see those qualities translate into votes, or allegiance. If you’re going to prevail in today’s political climate, you pretty much need to have a larger-than-life personality, and a more-than-healthy sense of self and self-importance. You have to have what to sell, and you have to be comfortable selling it– relentlessly.

What makes a good leader? Getty Images

Musical Magic at Carnegie Hall: The Powerful Lessons of Hazamir

04/07/2016 - 15:32

On a cold and nasty day in New York City last weekend, the hottest ticket in town was for a sold-out performance of Hazamir at Carnegie Hall.

Hazamir at Carnegie Hall. JW/Gerald Skolnik

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

On AIPAC: The Struggle To Be Non-Partisan In A Hyper-Partisan Time

03/24/2016 - 12:17

For an organization that prides itself on nurturing bi-partisan support for the State of Israel in the halls of Congress, AIPAC has somehow managed, for the second year in a row, to be at the epicenter of a firestorm that is all about partisanship. To be sure, that is not the story that it wanted to come out of its just-concluded annual Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Even Paranoids Have Enemies…

03/17/2016 - 12:49

Though Auschwitz was liberated more than seventy years ago, its legacy, along with the other death camps and horrific crimes that were committed against us during the Shoah, continues to cast a pall over the Jewish community worldwide.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

On the Trump Pledge: The Optics Are Worse Than Bad

03/09/2016 - 12:29

With today’s electronic and social media affording virtually anyone the chance to share thoughts and images around the world with staggering speed, it has never been more important to take care when publishing a picture in a newspaper, or, more privately, or before hitting the “send” button on a personal message or photo. More than a few of us have had the very unhappy experience of hitting that button too quickly and wishing desperately that we could take it back, especially if we sent a private message in error to an entire listserv. When a private comment or thought goes public, terrible things can happen.

Donald Trump. Wikimedia Commons

Nothing Is More Important Than Shabbat!

03/03/2016 - 14:43

The Torah portion that we read this week (Vayakhel) features, in exacting detail, the building materials that were collected for the purpose of constructing the Mishkan, the ancient portable sanctuary that traveled with our ancestors through the desert. This much gold, that much silver, copper too, all used to create the humble ancestor of the Jerusalem Temple and its various pieces of sacred furniture.

Shabbat candles. Wikimedia Commons

How Are Communities Built?

02/18/2016 - 14:05

My wife and I traveled to Florida over the Presidents Day week to visit with family and some friends. Given the weather that New York experienced in December, we imagined that New York might wind up being the warmer of the two places, but as it turned out, we couldn't have been more wrong! The weather in Florida was spectacularly sunny and warm, and the weather in New York has been equally spectacular, but in the other direction, with record cold temperatures. Through nothing but luck, we definitely won the vacation lottery.

Skyline of Tampa, Florida from Bayshore Blvd. Wikimedia Commons
Syndicate content