A Rabbi's World

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

As Communities Change, So Must Rabbis, And the Organizations that Serve Them

11/04/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Beginning last summer and continuing on throughout this year, the Rabbinical Assembly, the professional organization of Conservative rabbis, has been engaged in a process of “re-visioning,” evaluating how best to understand its function and serve its members. This process is both time and energy-intensive, and not something that the organization, of which I am the immediate past-President, undertakes lightly. The stakes are high, particularly at a time of challenge such as we are facing. If you’re going to do it, you’d better do it right.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Where Are More People Like Yitzhak Rabin?

10/28/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

In the terribly sad days after Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination twenty years ago this week, a bumper sticker began to show up on cars both here and in Israel. It read "Haver, attah hasser": Friend, you are missed. The phrase was a riff on President Clinton’s famous “Shalom Haver” (Farewell, friend) comment uttered the night of the assassination. Obviously shaken and grieved by what had transpired, the President paid an eloquent and heartfelt farewell to the man who had been his partner in the Middle East peace process, and also his friend.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Marking Fifty Years Of Nostra Aetate

10/21/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Barely two weeks after attending Pope Francis’ Interfaith Service at Ground Zero, I had another, even more surreal experience last night involving the Catholic Church.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Day In The Life: From Pope To Pajamas

09/30/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

One of my very favorite things about the pulpit rabbinate is that no two days are the same. Unlike the iconic 9-5 job, with well-defined hours and expectations, the rabbinate is more “free-form,” with hours that are, in theory and often in practice, 24/7. You’re always on call, because the kinds of needs that rabbis are expected to meet are not restricted to any one time of day.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Hanging In The Balance

09/16/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

When it comes to talking about God, the Bible and Jewish liturgy almost invariably resorts to anthropomorphism and metaphor. The reason is simple. Even the most gifted liturgists and spiritualists among us are lacking the spiritual vocabulary adequate to do anything other.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

A Prayer for the New Year

09/09/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

The most ubiquitous and traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting is known to almost all Jews: L’Shanah Tovah Tikateivu V’Teichateimu; may you been inscribed and sealed (in the Book of Life) for a good year. In its few words, it alludes to the central metaphor of the High Holidays. The verdict of our divine judgment is to be recorded upon its completion, and our most fervent prayer is that it be recorded in the Book of Life, and not, God forbid, that other book…

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

We Can't Ignore Iran, Or How We Talk About It, During The Holidays

09/03/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Psychiatrists and therapists are known to commonly vacation in August, making it a notoriously bad time to have an emotional crisis. Most rabbis vacation in July, because once August comes, the gravitational pull of the High Holidays begins to assert itself, and virtually the entire synagogue world goes into pre-crisis mode. It seems to many of my colleagues to be “too close” to the holidays to leave town, even though there are at least four weeks before Rosh Hashanah.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Global, Local And Elul

08/13/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Quietly but inexorably, the month of Elul is creeping up on us. When we celebrate its beginning this coming week, there is no avoiding the fact that we are but one Jewish calendar month away from Rosh Hashanah, and the High Holiday season. Summer is drawing to a close, as it must, and fall is approaching.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

What Pollard Did

The spy's actions were more a chillul hashem than heroism.

07/29/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

After years of major efforts by both Israeli leaders and American Jews to make it happen sooner, it was revealed this week that Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish naval analyst who spied on America for Israel, would be released on November 20, as he completes the full thirty years of his original sentence.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

In Music, Young Hindus And Jews Come Together

07/22/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Over the years, I have written a number of columns on the North American Jewish Choral Festival, an outstanding program sponsored by the Zamir Choral Foundation, of which I am an officer and board member. The Festival, now in its twenty-sixth year, brings together hundreds of Jewish choral singers, mostly from North America but also from Israel. For four days, they are immersed in the glories of great Jewish choral music. There is no other program like it in the Jewish world. As an alumnus of the Zamir Chorale from the late 60’s and early 70’s, I always look forward to it. It is, invariably, exhilarating.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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