A Rabbi's World

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

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

The Sin Of Senseless Hatred, Still With Us

07/08/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnists

It is that time of year again, the so-called “Three Weeks” preceding Tisha B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the Temples in ancient Jerusalem. The observant Jewish community is in an unusually somber mood. There are no weddings, no major parties, and a variety of other quasi-mourning practices are followed.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

The Supreme Court Was Right On Gay Marriage

07/01/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

My wife and I have been blessed with four beautiful children, but we lost a number of pregnancies along the way. During those difficult times years ago, when we sometimes wondered whether we would ever realize our dream of a large family, or even have children at all, I developed a deep personal antipathy for the cavalier use of abortion as a form of birth control.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Far from Queens…

06/24/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Being a “New York Jew”— and a New York Rabbi, no less — is what many of the more sharp-tongued among us would call a diagnosis. In the mouths of some non-Jews, it is a not-so-polite way of implying pushy, opinionated, parochial, narrow-minded, prickly, and demanding. And in the mouths of many Jews, particularly those from outside of this geographical area, it implies ethnically narrow, religiously conservative, along with a few of the aforementioned adjectives. None of them are particularly complimentary.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Happy Birthday, Dr. Ruth!

06/17/2015 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

A week ago, I had the pleasure of attending a reception for Dr. Ruth Westheimer, celebrating both her eighty-seventh birthday and the publication of her newest book, "The Doctor Is In: Dr. Ruth on Life, Love, and Joie de Vivre." Not surprisingly, the person in the room who effortlessly displayed the most energy and spirit, with no one even a close second, was Ruth herself.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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