A Rabbi's World

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

Palestinian Hatred: What Are You Teaching Your Children?

12/02/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Around the time when smoking was officially labeled a serious health hazard, one of the first of many television commercials was produced to try and convince people to quit. It featured a father and young child outside on a beautiful spring day, with the child imitating everything the father did. The father took off his jacket, and the child took his off. The father smelled a flower, and the child did the same.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Seeking Solace: A Normally Small Interfaith Service Draws Triple The Crowd

11/24/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

For many years now, the Interfaith Clergy Group of Forest Hills, of which I am a proud member, has sponsored an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service on the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving. Historically, the service has rotated among the participating houses of worship. For reasons of logistics and space availability, this year’s service was held in our sanctuary here at the Forest Hills Jewish Center for the second consecutive year.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Paris And Jerusalem

11/18/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

A few days ago, as we were all struggling to regain our equilibrium following the horrific carnage in Paris, an item appeared on Facebook that caught my eye and made me think. It was a simple graphic that read as follows: Paris, 13/11; New York, 11/9; Israel, 24/7.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Veterans Day And Us: Let’s Pray Equally For American And Israeli Soldiers

11/12/2015 - 19:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

It is unquestionably true that, since 9/11, Americans have fundamentally and consciously changed the way they relate to veterans who have served in the military, and particularly those who are currently serving.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

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
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