A Rabbi's World

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

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

Looking Back on Zamir at Fifty

11/05/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Although the dinner celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Zamir Chorale took place last Saturday night, and the gala concert at Carnegie Hall was on the Sunday that followed, I must admit that, as a participant in both, I am having trouble snapping myself back into the here and now. I had such a wonderful time!

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Picking the Right Fights

10/29/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

By sheer coincidence, people from very different times and circumstances in my life have asked me this past week how it is that I have managed to stay the rabbi of the same synagogue for thirty years. It is more than a little unusual, I do admit. Most rabbis- and clergy in general- tend to move around at least once or twice in their career. Every time I speak about my rabbinic career in Forest Hills, I hasten to add how fortunate both I and my family have been to be so rooted in one place- one very fine community.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Timely Reminder of the Power of Music

10/20/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Just a few evenings ago, my synagogue in Forest Hills formally installed Hazzan Henry Rosenblum as its new Cantor. Having just concluded a lengthy tenure as the Dean of the H. L. Miller School for Cantorial Music at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Hazzan Rosenblum is both a friend and a mentor to countless young Hazzanim, and a precious colleague to those who have served as Cantors for many years.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Thoughts on the Chilean Miners

10/15/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Other than the man whose mistress showed up to greet him but not his wife (ouch!), there seems to be no component of the story of the rescued Chilean miners that is not magical, if not miraculous. It is a beautiful example of the triumph of the human spirit, and of the refusal to fail, to paraphrase the oft quoted phrase of the NASA flight director for Apollo 13.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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