A Rabbi's World

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

Some Books Just Shouldn’t Be Written: Kabbalah for Dummies

08/04/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Like anyone who accepts the responsibility of saying Kaddish seriously, I spend a lot of time running to and from various minyanim.  Luckily, my own synagogue has a daily minyan morning and evening, and when my schedule allows for it, that minyan is always choice number one.  But there are more than a few times when appointments or other commitments have me away from Forest Hills when that minyan meets, and that’s when I go a-hunting.

A Loss That Impoverishes Us All: Eunice Kennedy Shriver

08/13/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

It feels as if we have been bombarded these past few weeks with news of celebrities who have died, all of them too soon: Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, John Hughes, and others too.  Each made a mark on our society and culture in ways more and less significant, and each left behind fans and admirers who have felt their deaths as a personal loss.

For me, the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver this week outweighs them all. As one of her grandchildren said recently, she never ran for office, but she changed the world.  How true!

Coming Around Again…the High Holidays Near

08/23/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

It’s just about at this time of year that I begin thinking in earnest of the topics that I want to address in my High Holiday sermons.  Some years ago, in a fit of preparedness, I wrote my sermons early in July, and then Yasser Arafat and Yitzchak Rabin shook hands on the South Lawn of the White House in August and ruined every rabbi’s already-written sermons for that year.  I’ve learned!

Yet Another Sad Goodbye…Sen. Edward Kennedy

08/28/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

It was just two weeks ago that I shared my sadness at the death of Eunice Shriver Kennedy- a great woman whose death impoverished us all.  And now we have learned of the death of her brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, after a valiant struggle with brain cancer.

Anticipating Tishrei

09/03/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

It’s been so long since I celebrated the High Holidays as a layperson that I’ve almost forgotten what it felt like.  Truth to tell, I miss the chance to have those precious days be cathartic for me personally, as opposed to being focused on making them cathartic for others.  The pressure on rabbis and cantors to “be at their best” during this season is enormous, for all the obvious reasons.  As my nephew would say, “it is what it is.”

Accepting Adulthood… Finally

09/11/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Without really preparing for it last week - you’d think that I would have known better, being in this line of work and all - I came upon a significant marker in the road, and an unsettling realization.  My childhood is over.  It’s a strange realization to come to now, given that I have four children, and a grandchild to boot.  But it took a moment of reflection during our morning synagogue service for me to get there.

Sharing a Painful Message: Needed - Sane Voices for Israel

09/24/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

In lieu of a regular posting this week, I am sharing with you the message that I delivered in my own congregation in Forest Hills on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.

I do so because it speaks to a subject that I think needs to be on our communal agenda, and about which I feel passionately: how and about what we in the Jewish community disagree, and its implications for our relationship with the world as a whole, and particularly with Israel.

I wish you all a g’mar hatimah tovah…

Easing on Down the Road…Sukkot is All Uplift

10/02/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

The days between Yom Kippur and the beginning of Sukkot offer a welcome opportunity for a change of mood.

Lives of Quiet Desperation

10/09/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Henry David Thoreau famously said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.  I never really understood that line when I first read it many years ago, and as I was growing into maturity, it always seemed to me a bleak assessment of the human condition.  ”Quiet desperation” seemed to negate the very possibility of living a meaningful if not joyous life.  In my youth, hearing those words made me feel distant at best from what Thoreau was trying to say.

But Seriously… Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize

10/16/2009
Special to the Jewish Week

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry that cited my second day Rosh Hashanah sermon.  It defended President Obama from what I consider ill-advised attacks against him, caustic and often personal attacks not grounded in any reality.  As I see it, he’s a relatively untested politician in a terribly difficult job in a ridiculously difficult time, doing the best he can.  The jury is out on him, and time alone will tell.  (Yes, Mr. Safire a”h, too many clichés, but they are all perfectly appropriate!).

Syndicate content