A Rabbi's World

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

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

Gilad Shalit: How Do You Measure The Life Of A Man?

10/18/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

The title of this piece is, of course, taken from the painful but magnificent song from Jonathan Larson’s RENT titled “Seasons of Love.”  As two of the protagonists are slowly dying from AIDS, their friends struggle to assess the value of their lives, which they know will end far too early.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

There Are No Silly Questions

10/12/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

 

Over the years, I’ve had what must be tens of thousands of conversations with congregants, and strangers that I’ve met in the context of my work.  I couldn’t begin to count the number of times those conversations began with the words “Rabbi, can I ask you a silly question?” 

The good teacher — or should I say the wise teacher -— will tell you that there are no silly questions.  There are silly answers, to be sure, but very few if any silly questions.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Making The New Year More Meaningful

10/06/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist
What follows below is a very slightly edited version of the sermon I delivered on the first day of Rosh Hashanah in my own synagogue.  It was as much a personal statement about my own quest to invest life with meaning as it was a conventional sermon, but upon reflection... if that isn't legitimate fodder for a sermon, I'm not sure what is.
 
I hope that you find it meaningful, and I wish you all a G'mar Hatima Tovah-
 
Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Life In The Rabbinic Fast Lane

09/22/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

 

 

 

“’Twas the week before Rosh Hashanah…”

At this time of year, I am often greeted by friends and congregants with some version of “this is your busy season, isn’t it?” Accountants like to say that this is “The rabbi’s April.” The teller at my bank this morning, an Indian woman, said benignly, “you have some holidays coming up, don’t you?’

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Moving Beyond 9/11

09/15/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Some years ago, as I recuperated from serious orthopedic surgery on my ankle, I went to the surgeon’s office for a follow-up appointment. My recovery was in that awkward stage where I was no longer in a cast or on crutches, but clearly not foot loose and fancy free, either. I remember asking the doctor something along the lines of “how much is too much?” Should I be walking more or less if it hurts? Should I be pushing this recovery along, or would pushing it slow down my overall progress?

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Social Justice and National Security

Israel at the Brink… Of What?

09/08/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Taking Israel’s existential temperature right now and diagnosing exactly how to interpret what is going on there is no simple task.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

"Just Because You're Paranoid ...": The Fading Illusion Of Peace In Israel

08/24/2011
Jewish Week Online Columnist

 

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,

And the Catholics hate the Protestants,

And the Hindus hate the Moslems,

And everybody hates the Jews.

Tom Lehrer’s not around for me to ask him how he would feel about my playing with his lyrics. I wish he were. We could use his biting humor these days. But I think that, given where America and the world are at right now, if we were to change the last word of his refrain to “Israelis” instead of Jews, we’d have ourselves a reborn classic.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik
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