A Rabbi's World

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

France And The Jewish Problem

01/15/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Even with the passage of a few days since the awful events in Paris last week, a lingering sense of horror and dismay continues to invade the bodies politic of the western world. And why would it not? What happened in Paris was grotesque and terrifying, with implications that will not disappear even if ignored.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Police Vs. Civilians, In NYC, And Jerusalem

01/09/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

There are aspects of spending time in Israel that can take one completely out of a “New York state of mind,” and refreshingly so. For all the problems that Israel has, and there are many, I have yet to spend time there without experiencing one or two encounters with people that are so unlike life here in New York, and I treasure them.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

We Need A Little Chanukah

12/18/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

It is difficult, if not impossible, to walk into a store at this time of year without being subjected to mind-numbing Christmas Musack playing in the background, just soft enough that you can speak over it, but also just loud enough that you can’t help but hear it. I assume that the intention is to put shoppers in the “Christmas spirit,” and make them spend more. I doubt that it has any positive effect in that regard. The message, though, comes through loud and clear in ways both liminal and subliminal: “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute.”

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

At Long Last, Home From Okinawa

12/12/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

My wife Robin and I are blessed with four children; as she is fond of saying, we have “one of each.” In raising them, we have come to understand the true miracle of creation.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Israel's Politics, America's Jews

12/04/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

As I write, the government of Israel is literally in the process of dissolving itself, as a vote taken in the Knesset mandated that it do. New elections will be held this coming March. Metaphorically, Israel's government has been dissolving itself without benefit of Knesset action, slowly and tortuously, step by painstaking step, over the past few weeks.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Appreciating An Imperfect America

11/26/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

At our Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, we sing all three stanzas of America the Beautiful, which appear in the Prayer Book that we use here, edited by the late Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser, z”l, who led this synagogue for fifty years.

Gerald C. Skolnik

Our Synagogue In Har Nof

In this generation, we are required to see ourselves as if we personally were in that synagogue when the murderers entered.

11/21/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Early in the 1980’s, when the AIDS epidemic was in its early stages and few people really understood what AIDS was or how it was transmitted, a particularly awful episode of fear-driven hatred was visited upon a family in Arcadia, Florida. Their house was intentionally burned down by arsonists, and it was made clear that, because one member of the household had AIDS, the family was no longer welcome in Arcadia. The family, for reasons both physical and spiritual, had no choice but to leave.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Veteran's Day: In My Sixties, And During The Sixties

11/13/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Reflecting this year on the significance of Veterans Day from the vantage point of my sixties, I find it to be an unsettling experience, and not for the first time. I had the same experience during the sixties.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Ballad Of Barack And Bibi

11/06/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

There have been more than a few moments during the past two weeks when watching the disturbingly public spat between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has felt uncomfortably like watching Rocky VI (or whatever number they’re up to). The two combatants, bloodied but not bowed, keep coming at each other, each daring the other to deliver a knockout blow, but neither quite able to do so.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Learning To Pray ... From Churches

10/31/2014
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Compare and contrast:

Stopped in to a church I passed along the way,
Well, I got down on my knees, and I began to pray …

         The Mamas and the Papas

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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