A Rabbi's World

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

Olympic Musings…

08/22/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

As the summer Olympics in Beijing draw to a close, it seems like a good time to reflect on the goings-on of past few weeks.  The big news (other than the Herculean feats of Michael Phelps and others), as reported by the people who determine what makes the news, seems to be that people actually watched, and in record numbers.

Endings and Beginnings…

08/29/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

The imminent arrival of the Hebrew month of Elul is invariably a wake-up call to all of us.  Aside from the obvious- that Rosh Hashanah is four weeks away- there are also, of course, subliminal messages that come with a time of penitence and sober introspection.

We are in a time of endings, and of beginnings.

What Will We Talk About? The Conventions and the State of American Politics

09/05/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

Let’s see… the Olympics are over.  The political conventions are over.  Other than what sounds like endless hurricanes making their way towards the east coast, we’ve run out of the big topics!

Well, not quite.  The conventions may be over, but now comes two solid months of unending bombardment with commercials, debates, op-eds, blogs (can’t complain too much there, I guess), and what Seinfeld would undoubtedly refer to as just so much yadda.  It’s time to hunker down.

It Took a While, But…Paul McCartney in Israel

09/12/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

It’s not a slow news time, to be sure, but after a conversation with my sister a few days ago, I know what the really big news story is in Israel.  It’s not about Ehud Olmert, Tzippi Livni, or any other political or religious figure; it’s about Paul McCartney.  Yes, Paul McCartney, whose forthcoming concert in Park HaYarkon on September 25 promises to be the biggest such event in Israel’s history.  

 

But Is It Good For the Jews?

09/19/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

We Jews are famously accused of seeing everything that happens through a single lens: how it impacts us.  Sometimes it comes out as “Is it good or bad for Israel,” other times it’s more parochially about the ramifications of any given policy or event for our own communities.  But we watch out for ourselves, and tend to be keenly on top of things as they affect us.

Vanity of Vanities, All is Vanity…

09/27/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

That Ecclesiastes, he was one smart fellow…

Those of us in the New York Jewish community were witness this past week to what might fairly be called a “bonfire of the vanities.”  Egos were on parade. And as they were strutting purposefully, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad was surely laughing.

Breathing Pressurized Air

10/03/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

Being a congregational rabbi during the High Holidays is an experience in pressure unlike anything else that occurs during the course of a Jewish year. Jews you never knew were in your neighborhood (and some you did) seem to come out of the woodwork and find their way into synagogue services, sometimes changing the nature of the congregation entirely. Often, just to make their presence known, they decide that this might be the right time to get to know the rabbi.

The Cleansing Power of Prayer

10/17/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

As I write this, the stock market is taking its first halting, spasmodic steps away from the abyss and back towards some kind of healthier state of being.  Of course, now that I’ve written that, it will probably go down a few hundred points today just to prove how little I understand how these things really work.  I readily admit that.  But we do seem to have eased away from the bleakest, most hopeless feeling that we’ve all known these past few weeks.

TRANSITIONS…

10/24/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

The ancient rabbis famously commented on the difficult opening chapters of the book of Genesis that kol ha’hathalot kashot; all beginnings are difficult.  It was a rather glib observation on the slow but steady deterioration of the state of the world from its idyllic, Edenesque state to the point where God actually regrets having created humanity.

Choosing Sides: The Search for Perfection in Politics

10/31/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

We are, thank God, drawing closer to that glorious day when this election campaign will be over.  It has been the longest and most intensive battering of our collective consciousnesses that I can recall, and if I feel this way, I can’t even begin to imagine how the candidates must feel.  Surely we have enough information with which to make an informed decision.

Syndicate content