A Rabbi's World

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

A Rabbi's World: The Death of Civility

03/26/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Those of a certain age and inclination will recognize this lyric from a great Buffalo Springfield song of the late '60's: "Something's happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear…" That's exactly what it feels like to me in America right now. Something's happening. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it feels visceral and scary, and I'm sure I'm not making it up.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Just What the Doctor Ordered

03/19/2010

Against the backdrop of a dramatic and very public spat between the governments of Israel and America, increasing unhappiness here in the States about still further efforts in Israel to delegitimize non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism, and a YouTube video showing Haredi men literally throwing chairs over the partition at the Kotel aimed at the Women of the Wall who were preparing to pray, something wonderful happened here in New York this past Sunday.

A Rotten Week for Israel

Spitting in Biden's face - and the face of many American Jews

03/12/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

By most of the standards that I- and I dare say many others- would use to evaluate such things, the State of Israel has had an altogether rotten week.  At times, in fact, I found myself wondering whether, in some secret government catacomb, there was a small group of people working on a  strategic game to see how many of Israel's American supporters the Israeli government could alienate in one week.  They've obviously been hard at work…

A Rabbi's World: Purim, 2010

02/26/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

This coming Shabbat will mark our annual observance of Shabbat Zachor, so named because of its command to remember the treachery of ancient Amalek against the Israelites.  Shabbat Zachor is always observed on the Shabbat before Purim, since tradition teaches that the evil Haman was a descendant of Amalek.

The Toyota on the Synagogue Steps

02/17/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

Just about a week and a half ago, an elderly man drove his car through the bushes in front of my synagogue, onto the steps leading up to the main entrance on the service road of Queens Boulevard.  It's not clear what the cause was, although because he was driving a Toyota, his claim that the car accelerated on him suddenly seems (pun fully intended) to have caught traction.  I don't know.  Actually, I wasn't there at the time, and didn't think all that much of it.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik is spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center

There’s Something about Chanukkah…

12/11/2009

As I was sitting down to write this blog entry, I decided to look at my e-mail first- always a questionable strategy if you really want to get something done.  I discovered that I had received numerous e-mails urging me to address the Iranian threat to Israel in my weekly sermon, a threat that, according to the e-mails, even AIPAC and J Street agree is real and serious.

So it got me thinking…

In Appreciation of Jewish Early Childhood Education

07/11/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

More than twenty years ago, when my now twenty-five-year-old son was in Nursery School, I learned how little I understood about how the minds of young children work.

When Religion Is Used as a Cudgel

02/25/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

The one-two punch of Debra Nussbaum Cohen’s front-page article in The Jewish Week (RCA Seen Caving on Conversions, February 29) and Gershom Gorenberg’s piece in the Sunday Magazine of The New York Times (Proving You’re a Jew, March 2) serves as a painful reminder of one of Israel’s most vexing problems.

Soldiers in the Army of Torah

03/02/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

Just a few hours ago, an Arab terrorist (maybe two?) made his way into Yeshivat Mercaz Harav in Jerusalefom and opened fire, killing at least seven Yeshiva students and wounding many others. It doesn’t take a political scientist to attribute this heinous act of barbarism to some form of revenge for Israel’s actions recently in Gaza. Significant numbers of civilians were killed in those actions, and the conventional wisdom in that part of the world is “blood for blood.”

On the Meteoric Fall of Elliot Spitzer

03/04/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

What are we to make of Elliot Spitzer’s dramatic fall from grace? How can it be that the man who was swept into office by a record plurality of votes, running as the Mr. Clean who “judged every decision before him simply on the basis of whether it was right or wrong,” as one of his campaign ads suggested, could be so very, very wrong on so basic a principle?

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