A Rabbi's World

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

Back to Israel in Troubled Times

02/18/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

In just a few hours, I’ll be leaving for ten days in Israel, bringing with me fifty members of my congregation, as well as my wife and the Educational Director of our synagogue’s Religious School. I can no longer remember how many of these trips I’ve led during the past thirty years, and that is a very good thing indeed. One of the things I’m proudest of in my rabbinate is having introduced many members of my community to Israel for the first time. There is a special joy in that for me, and the feeling never grows old.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Evolving Religious World and Conservative Judaism's Challenge

02/11/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

There is a great deal of talk swirling around about my movement- the Conservative movement- and its state of being. The lead article in this week’s print edition of The Jewish Week reports on a new strategic plan for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and the changes that it is intending to make in both its organizational structure and sphere of operations. The article implies- not too subtly- that the proposed changes reflect an organization, and a movement, in crisis.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

After Mubarak: What Now for Israel?

02/01/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

If it is indeed true that, as the old Arab proverb goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, it leaves me no closer to understanding exactly how I am to feel about what is going on in Egypt right now.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

California, Redux

01/28/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

Shortly after my vacation this past summer in California, I wrote a piece for this column about California and its charms. Having slowly and lovingly driven the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I lamented how coming back to New York City- which I admittedly love- was not so easy. Concrete jungle and all that….

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Marketing God

01/21/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

My youngest son, who is a senior in the Abraham Joshua Heschel High School in Manhattan, is studying economics for the first time, and he’s finding it fascinating.

His teacher is introducing the basics of marketing, and the dynamics that drive the consumer market. Each student has been assigned to focus on a particular product, and assess how the advertising for that product has shaped the marketplace’s opinion of it, and, of course, sales.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Remembering Debbie Friedman

01/10/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

To the many thousands of words of tribute that have been written about Debbie Friedman this week as the Jewish world mourns her untimely death, I humbly add these few…

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Feeling that Never Grows Old

01/07/2011
Special to the Jewish Week

There is an expression still used in modern Hebrew that is actually obsolete. I suspect that people still use it because it’s so wonderfully expressive. It is what Israelis say when someone finally “gets it,” when he/she actually understands what’s going on, and gets the point. The expression is “nafal ha’asimon:” the phone token has fallen.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

I’ve Got the Outer Borough, Tertiary Street Blues

Or, Why It’s Hard to Make a Minyan in a Snowstorm in Queens

12/30/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Writing an on-line article is a tricky business.

When you write for a hard copy local newspaper, which the Jewish Week is in the New York area, you are, essentially, writing for a local audience. New Yorkers will catch the regional references that won’t necessarily make sense to people reading my article online in, say, Des Moines, Chicago, or, for that matter, Jerusalem.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Is Racism Ever Passé?

12/19/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

It wasn’t all that long ago that, in the immediate aftermath of Barack Obama’s sweeping victory in the race for President, more than a few pundits were declaring that America had become a “post-racist society.” I wish it were so, but I’m sure it’s not.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Riding the College Merry-Go-Round One Last Time

12/17/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

My wife and I are blessed with four wonderful children, two of whom are married, and the third a sophomore in college. Our youngest child- a son- is eighteen and a senior in high school. And like his friends, he is living through those weeks of high anxiety when college acceptances- and the other letters- are sent out.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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