A Rabbi's World

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

Moving Beyond 9/11

09/14/2011 - 20:00
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?
09/07/2011 - 20:00
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

08/23/2011 - 20:00
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

Lurching Toward Elul: Tracking The Jewish Psyche

08/18/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

In the jargon of mental health professionals, when you say that someone’s “affect is labile,” it means that he/she tends to flip back and forth between different moods. It’s another way of saying that a person is behaving unpredictably, alternating between happy and sad, hope and despair, in ways that are hard to predict and liable to change at any moment.

 

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

From Moscow to Mickey: Living Jewish in the Land of Disney

08/10/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Today’s world of incredibly fast travel and communication has created improbably jarring segues of time and space. But even given that fact, transitioning from being in Moscow and St. Petersburg one week to Orlando, Florida the next has been, to say the least, a strange adjustment.

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Back In Russia, 32 Years Later

08/02/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

In the spring of 1979, at the height of the struggle to free Soviet Jewry, my wife Robin and I were among many volunteers who traveled to the Soviet Union for the express purpose of aiding and abetting the efforts of Zionist refuseniks.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Who Could Have Known?: A Most Unlikely Simcha

07/20/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

I officiated at a wedding not quite two weeks ago that, by all external criteria, looked much like many of the hundreds of weddings I’ve officiated at over the last thirty years.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Feeling Kehilat Jeshurun's Pain

07/13/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

There exists, in ancient rabbinic literature, the concept of a t'filat shav- a useless or ill-advised prayer uttered in vain and therefore to be avoided. A man is not to say "I hope my wife gives birth to a boy," for the sex of a child is determined at the moment of conception, and certainly not impacted thereafter by prayer. And if you see a fire burning as you approach your home, you should not say "I hope it's not my house that's burning."

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Reflections On The Fourth Of July

07/06/2011 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

When I first came to the Forest Hills Jewish Center thirty years ago, my first day of work was July 1. The fourth fell on Shabbat that year, so I was quickly introduced to a long-standing tradition of my new synagogue. On the Shabbat morning closest to the fourth of July- that year the day itself- “America the Beautiful” was sung as a closing hymn, instead of the customary “Adon Olam.”

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

The Answer To 'Half Shabbos' Is Whole Judaism

06/29/2011 - 20:00

A front-page article in last week’s print edition of The Jewish Week introduced the greater Jewish community to the idea of “half-Shabbos-” a version of Shabbat practiced, it would seem, by a not insignificant number of Orthodox teens. 

Gerald Skolnik
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