A Rabbi's World

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

New Rabbis: The Agony and the Ecstasy

05/25/2012

My son-in-law Yoni Warren, a Navy chaplain in Okinawa, Japan posted to a Marine battalion, has spent the better part of the past week discovering just how difficult and painful a rabbi’s life can be, in uniform or out. A note to help understand this story… In the military, regardless of what corps you’re in as a chaplain, you minister to all military personnel regardless of faith, corps, or any other determinant.

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

Rabbinic Leadership in the 21st Century

What Really Matters to the People We Serve?

05/17/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Since assuming the presidency of the Rabbinical Assembly almost two weeks ago, and for some weeks before then, people have been asking me exactly what it is that the Rabbinical Assembly does, and by extension, what the president does.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik is spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center, and president of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Assuming a New Responsibility

05/03/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

For the past six years, I have served as an officer of the Rabbinical Assembly, the 1600-member-strong international organization of Conservative rabbis.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik is spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center, and incoming President of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Confessions Of An Unapologetic Zionist

04/26/2012
Special To The Jewish Week Online

 

The first time I ever left the continental United States -- also the first time I ever flew--was when I traveled to Israel for my junior year of college in 1971.

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

Yom Hashoah Thoughts

04/19/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Re-entry from Israel to New York is always a surreal experience for me.  Where I live in central Queens is one of the most densely populated Jewish areas in the United States. There is little Jewish that is lacking here.  Outside of Israel, there are very few, if any, places in the United States where you can get quite as many Israeli products as my greater neighborhood, But after spending ten days in Jerusalem, I am reminded of just how much New York is not Israel.

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

The Top 10 Things About Being In Israel For Pesach

04/11/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

10) Having a seder with my sister and brother-in-law and their five children and eight grandchildren for the first time ever!

9)  Every gas station mini-market is kasher l’pesach,  and every gas station attendant wishes you a Chag Sameach (while they’re charging you a month’s salary to fill up your tank…)

8)  Kasher l’Pesach Magnum ice cream bars!

7)  On Chol HaMoed, it seems like every family in Israel is cooking out in a public park!

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

This Year In Jerusalem: A Very Special Passover

04/04/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

When I finished last year’s Seder with the words L’Shanah Haba’ah Bi’Yrushalayim Habnuyah- Next Year in a Rebuilt Jerusalem- I never allowed myself to imagine that I might actually be spending Passover, 5772 in anywhere other than Forest Hills.  Of course, were the Messiah to arrive, I would be ready to relocate, but absent that miraculous intervention in history, I didn’t see myself going anywhere for the holiday.

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

The Sad Case Of Trayvon Martin

03/30/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

No matter how one chooses to parse the still sketchy details, the recent death by gunfire of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida is a great tragedy. A young life was violently taken because of an all-too-easily arrived at suspicion based on stereotype. See a black teen wearing a “hoodie” in a white, gated community and, as the shooter George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer, himself said to police, one must assume that he’s “up to no good.”

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

Confronting Historical Anger: Reading Sh’foch Chamat’cha

03/21/2012
Jewish Week Columnist

In my years as a camper at Camp Massad Bet in the 1960’s, each and every camper bunk had to select a name for itself based on the name of a real place in the State of Israel. It then had to produce a plaque -– a shelet, in Hebrew-–that would represent the place/name it had chosen. When all the plaques were completed, there would be a competition to decide which was the best.  All the bunks would gather together, and a representative from each bunk would have to explain --  in Hebrew, of course -- the symbolism of what appeared on the plaque.

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

The Zamir Family Sheds a Tear

03/15/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

The extended family of the Zamir Chorale, and its parent organization, the Zamir Choral Foundation, suffered a painful loss last week. Chuck Kleinhaus, one of the original founding members of the choir that would eventually become Zamir, died in Jerusalem after a difficult, courageous battle with cancer. Slowly and painfully, the man who had been the epitome of good cheer, optimism and ageless, easy, gracious charm was humbled and ultimately claimed by a brutal and unrelenting disease.

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