A Rabbi's World

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

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

Tyler Clementi's Tragic Suicide: Kohelet was Right

10/08/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Just about a week ago, on Shmini Atzeret, many of us read in synagogue the book of Kohelet, known more widely to most as Ecclesiastes. People who know the book tend to regard it as more than a little cynical, and clearly, the author of the book- ascribed by tradition to King Solomon in his old age- had been around the proverbial block more than a few times. There was little that he hadn't seen, and he was sure that what he was yet to see would not be new to him. Ein hadash tahat hashamesh, he famously said- there is nothing new under the sun.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

When Life Imitates Liturgy: What the Queens Tornado Teaches About Life

09/27/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In the early evening of September 16, the day before Yom Kippur, my neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, here in the city of New York, was hit by a tornado. No one could remember the last time that had happened, but no one who experienced it this time around- myself very much included- will ever forget it. It was a terrifying experience, and it wreaked extensive damage. Most homes, including my own, had roof damage from falling trees, cars were sliced in half by them, power and cable lines were downed (some still are), and in general, it caused great distress.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

The Mosque Near Ground Zero: No Choice But to Build

09/16/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

This sermon was delivered in my synagogue in Forest Hills on Shabbat Shuvah, September 11, just last week.  It was the first time I addressed the proposed construction of the mosque/community center near Ground Zero from the pulpit, and obviously, because it was September 11 and the day after Rosh Hashanah, it carried great emotional weight.  I wanted to share it with all of you…

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

High Holidays: Hard Work

09/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

After a month away from my desk, my community, and New York, I returned yesterday to all three. I had a wonderful vacation, truly and genuinely restorative, and it must be written on my face because everyone who sees me comments that I look rested. The last comment was- verbatim- “Rabbi, you look wonderful and rested. We’ll take care of that.” You have to love it.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Going Down the Road Feeling Fine

08/20/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

(Santa Barbara, California) For a little over a week now, my wife and I, along with two other couples that we've been friends with for just about forty years, have been slowly working our way down the coast of California from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where I will be officiating at a wedding.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

The Curious Case of Steven Slater

08/13/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

After a three hour delay for what our pilot blithely referred to as a "catastrophic failure" of one of our brakes (how fortuitous to learn this before takeoff and not after!), my wife and I are finally on our way to California for a well-earned vacation. Watching flight attendants deal with frustrated passengers at 34,000 feet seems like a good time to spend a few minutes thinking about America's new cult hero, Steven Slater.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Is the Clergy Life Unusually Stressful?

08/06/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

On the first of this month, just as my vacation was beginning, the New York Times published (on its front page!) an article about the phenomenon of “clergy burnout.” I was, of course, touched by the fact that they had timed the publishing of the article to coincide with the o

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik
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