A Rabbi's World

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

We Grieve as We Have Loved

04/21/2010 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Though it is now almost thirty years ago, I still remember the first time I heard my esteemed predecessor in the Forest Hills Jewish Center, the late Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser, deliver a eulogy. In his closing comments, he said to the grieving family members that grief is the mirror image of love. That is to say, people tend to grieve according to how they have loved. The greater the love they had for the person who died, the greater the pain they feel.

It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But the truth is that it’s anything but…

Remembering What Truly Matters

If the current administration in Washington is sincere in its stated goal of working aggressively to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the days and months ahead will be even more difficult and confusing than the past few weeks have been.
04/14/2010 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Following last week's somber ceremonies marking Yom Hashoa, Israel will, on this coming Monday, observe its annual Yom Hazikaron, a solemn memorial day for her fallen soldiers. Rare is the family in Israel that does not know someone who has died in Israel's defense, or have a family member who has. And then, on Monday evening, the celebration of Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day, will begin.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Riding the Nisan/Iyar Rollercoaster

04/08/2010 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

Like some gigantic parabolic curve that exists in both time and space, the two adjoining Hebrew months of Nisan and Iyar have their way with us.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Whose History is it Anyway?

Some thoughts on the widespread use of the theme of enslavement and redemption as a metaphor for all struggles of national liberation.
04/01/2010 - 20:00
Special to the Jewish Week

The Passover Seders that my family has hosted for the past thirty-plus years are radically different from the ones I grew up with. In my parents' home, those attending a Seder were most often family, or occasionally a close friend of my sister's or mine. But in the relatively sheltered world of my youth, having non-Jews at the Seder, as guests, would not have been a serious option.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

A Rabbi's World: The Death of Civility

03/25/2010 - 20:00
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

03/18/2010 - 20:00

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
03/11/2010 - 19:00
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

02/25/2010 - 19:00
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

02/16/2010 - 19:00
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…

12/10/2009 - 19:00

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…

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