A Rabbi's World

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

At Home in Forest Hills

Special to the Jewish Week

The title of this blog entry is an intentional riff on the charming and wonderful 

Genesis, Again!

Special to the Jewish Week

I have a friend who’s a plasma physicist.  He’s brilliant- really brilliant- and divides much of his time between the finer points of cold fusion and developing alternative energy sources (may he only succeed!).

When we first met about thirty years ago, this friend, who is Jewish, wasn’t all that into synagogue.  He famously commented to my wife and me that coming to synagogue every Shabbat was sort of like going to the same play every week… same script, same actors, same ending.  Groundhog Day for Jews.

I’ve Had a Weird Day…

Special to the Jewish Week

Did you ever have one of those days where you expect Rod Serling to step out from behind a building while you stand frozen in place and say something like “Picture, if you will, a man…”

I’ve had one of those days, and it’s not over yet.  And I’m trying to figure out whether there’s some larger meaning to it.

Living a Private Life in Public

Special to the Jewish Week

Once upon a time, when I was a student for the rabbinate, my classmates and I shared many fears about life to come “out there,” but none more than the “living in a fishbowl” syndrome.

Lessons from an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Special to the Jewish Week

This past Sunday, as it has for many years, my congregation participated at an interfaith Thanksgiving service, held this year in a major Catholic church here in Forest Hills.

The service had all the elements common to these types of programs- responsive readings, performances by our various church and synagogue choirs, and a careful avoidance of liturgical language and hymns that would be offensive to anyone present.

Is There Not a Better Way to Say That? Same-sex Marriage vs. “Abomination Marriage”

Special to the Jewish Week

A shopping excursion yesterday took me to the Five Towns, to one of the very large Kosher supermarkets off Rockaway Turnpike.  No, it’s not like Queens lacks places to shop for Kosher items.  I know.  But I had some time, and decided to take a little ride.

One Interesting Species, We Humans…

Special to the Jewish Week

I had to laugh yesterday when I heard on the news that Senator Schumer had issued a public (and private) apology for an insult to a flight attendant that he had muttered under his breath.  Evidently she had asked him to turn his cell phone off as the flight was about to take off, and he called her a word that I’d rather not repeat here.  Welcome to the human race, I thought to myself.  We all have our less than wonderful moments.  The measure of who we are is how and whether we own up to them, not whether or not we have them.

Todah and Shabbat Shalom…

Special to the Jewish Week

My wife and I arrived in Israel last night for a stay of about ten days.  The visit incorporates the opportunity for the unveiling of my late mother’s tombstone, and also some sorely needed R and R.  Only a few minutes ago, my wife checked her e-mail and saw that someone on our synagogue listserv had asked what Christmas was like in Israel.

The short answer is- you wouldn’t know it’s Christmas.

No Problem Finding a Minyan Here…

Special to the Jewish Week

Last week I wrote about how (outside of Bethlehem, Nazareth, etc. of course), Christmas was basically invisible here in Israel, where I am visiting.  New Year’s Eve celebrations are a bit different.  In Tel-Aviv, there were parties and celebrations long into the night.  In Jerusalem, where I am, other than the American kids who are here for the year, it was pretty much a night like all others.   I can’t say as I missed all the hoopla too very much.  It was oddly calm…

Is This Really Necessary? Discrimination at the Kotel

Special to the Jewish Week

My wife and I returned from our brief trip to Israel this past Sunday morning, and in many significant and less significant ways, we had a wonderful trip.  It was wonderful to be in Israel, to see family, to feel the pulse of Israel in real time… wonderful, as it invariably is.

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