A Rabbi's World

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

A Northern Jew In The Heart of Dixie

12/30/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Because my wife works in an academic setting, the end of December is usually a good time for us to get away for a week or so. Synagogue activity tends to slow down then as well because so many people are away.  It is, as I like to call it, a great opportunity to “air out.”

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

Religious Zealotry, Then and Now

12/22/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

I love Chanukah.  I love the fact that it gives us a reason to celebrate when the days are dark and (relatively) cold, and to light a light against the darkness.  Last but most certainly not least, Chanukah also reminds us of the power of faith in God, and in the rightness of our cause, to carry us to victory in times of trouble, even against insurmountable odds.

This year, however, as we celebrate the ancient victory of the Maccabees, I am deeply concerned. 

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Chanukah: Minor Festival, Major Message

12/15/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece for this paper about Pilgrims and Native Americans.  It spoke of how the legacy of the Thanksgiving story often falls prey to deconstructionists, who value historical truth over cultural myth at all cost. Rather than have children- and, for that matter, adults- celebrate a cherished American belief in a common appreciation of blessings, they would argue that historical reality in all of its messiness- or at least, the probability of its being reality- must trump exercises in feel-good nostalgia rooted in legend.
 

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

Thoughts On That Israeli Ad Campaign

12/08/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

 

Much ink has already been spilled on the ill-fated ad campaign launched by Israel’s Ministry of Absorption, aimed at convincing Israelis living here in the United States to return to Israel. I’m afraid I’m going to spill a little more.

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

Where Are The Good Candidates For President?

12/01/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

I am not among those who routinely dismiss President Obama’s presidency as a failure, nor do I count myself among those who see him as an enemy of Israel.  I regard him as a good and honorable man- a thoughtful man- who was swept into office on the wings of his great oratorical skills.  In so doing, he carried on his back the desperate hopes of an American people, fearful that the economic meltdown of 2008 was destroying the way of life that they had come to know, and depend on.

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

Of Pilgrims and Native Americans: The Enduring Power of Myth

11/23/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

As I walked down the hall of my synagogue towards my office earlier this week, I was distracted by the happy sounds of young children having themselves a very good time.  I detoured into the room where our Nursery School had gathered for a “holiday feast,” and everyone- faculty and children- was in costume.  There were Pilgrims, and Native Americans, and even a few turkeys thrown in for good measure.  I couldn’t help but smile- such a sweet scene!

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

Missing Yitzchak Rabin

11/18/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Falling as it did this year so close to the seventy-third anniversary of Kristallnacht, when German and Austrian houses of worship literally went up in smoke and flame, I feel as if I personally haven’t paid enough attention to the sixteenth anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. 

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

The Shame of Penn State

11/11/2011

There are many things in this world that are sad, and there are some things that are sadder than others.  But within that hierarchy, there is nothing sadder, in my humble opinion, than the willful abuse of children.  When those who are least able to defend themselves physically and emotionally are allegedly subjected to the most horrific kind of victimization, then we intuitively know that we have reached the bottom of the barrel of human behavior.  No child should have to suffer that indignity, and live with that shame and psychic pain.

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

Religion, Guilt And The Jewish Condition

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

11/03/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Through the years, I’ve grown reluctant to divulge my rabbinic identity to those whom I meet on vacation, or in a purely social context far away from work.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Where Have All The Flowers Gone? A Look At The Military, Then And Now

10/28/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Some years ago -- when my son-in-law, then in Rabbinical School, was graduating in Newport, Rhode Island from Officer Development School in the United States Navy as a newly minted Ensign -- I wrote a piece for this paper titled “The Sin of My Generation.”   While watching him parade proudly with his fellow graduates in his dress whites, sharply saluting his commanding officer, I was overwhelmed by a sense that I had failed the sailors and soldiers who had served during the Vietnam years by denying them the right to take pride in their service.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik
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