A Rabbi's World

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

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

After the Fires: When Blame is Not a Game

12/10/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Now that the horrific fire in Israel’s Carmel forest has been extinguished and Israel has buried its dead, Israeli politicians and pundits have begun the inevitable process of assessing blame for this unprecedented tragedy. I have heard many referring to it as the “blame game,” as if this can be treated like just another episode in which an oversight or omission on the part of some careless government functionary caused a blackout, or a monumental traffic jam. Find the most likely suspect, the reasoning goes, hang him/her out to dry, and go on with your lives.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Chanukah at the White House: Timely Reminder of Why America is Special

12/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In addition to serving as the rabbi of The Forest Hills Jewish Center- a position I have held for thirty years- I also currently serve as Vice-President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international organization of Conservative rabbis. With some sixteen hundred members world-wide, the RA, as it is known, is a respected and important player on the American Jewish scene and around the world.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Faith and Doubt, Across Religious Lines

11/26/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Over these past few weeks, I have delivered a series of both sermons and Torah study sessions that have put our ancestral patriarchs and matriarchs under a high-powered microscope. The goal of the presentations was to teach how the later rabbinic overlay of interpretive (creative?) commentary tended to glorify them and their attributes significantly beyond what the texts themselves would imply.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Dor Holech V’Dor Ba…One Generation Moves On, Another Comes Along

11/19/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In what has to be a fairly unusual juxtaposition, I happen to have both a son and a son-in-law who are scheduled to be ordained as rabbis by the Jewish Theological Seminary this coming spring.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Can I Daven Here? Searching for Spiritual Flexibility

11/12/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

While spending Shabbat on Manhattan’s Upper West Side a few weeks ago in order to attend programs relating to the “Zamir at Fifty” celebration, I found myself in the unusual position (a dramatic understatement!) of having to decide where to go to Shabbat morning services. I realize that “shul hopping” is a time-honored sport of that particular neighborhood, and there are plenty of Jews who do it in my neck of the woods, too. But I rarely get to indulge that urge to try something different on a given Shabbat…

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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