In previous columns, I have mentioned the fact that my son-in-law, Lt. (jg) Yonatan Warren, is a Navy chaplain posted to Okinawa, Japan. Actually, he is a Navy chaplain posted to a Marine battalion in Okinawa, and he and my daughter Leora have been there since the fall.
With the release of former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s scathing report on the scandal and cover-up involving the Penn State football program, all of those issues that had once been in the category of “alleged” are now pretty much resolved.
One of my very favorite movies is Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride , based on the classic novel by William Goldman. The movie is wonderful for a whole host of reasons, but essentially, it is a whimsical riff on the idea of “true love.” Wesley and Buttercup, the hero and heroine, endure all kinds of outrageous misfortune, but ultimately, their destiny is to be together.mTrue love wins out.
As the President of the Rabbinical Assembly, I was privileged to participate in a small lunchtime reception welcoming the recently liberated Israeli prisoner of war Gilad Shalit to New York. The reception was sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the umbrella organization whose constituent members had played an integral part in the international campaign to gain Shalit’s release.
If you’ve spent any serious time in Israel and have traveled to its major cities, you will undoubtedly have noticed that virtually all of them have streets named after famous, deceased Zionist leaders and thinkers. There are countless boulevards, highways and avenues named after Herzl, Ahad-Ha’am, Ben-Gurion, Rothschild, Begin, Rabin, Ussishkin, Arlozorov… you get the picture.
From Penn State to Brooklyn and Too Many Places In Between
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
Jewish Week Online Columnist
When Henry David Thoreau wrote that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them,” he could not have been talking about men who, as young boys, suffered sexual abuse at the hands of supposedly trustworthy adults. Their song, I think, has been robbed from them. And their desperation is heart wrenching.
As I write this, I am winging my way back from California- Camp Ramah in Ojai, California to be exact- and three days of a rabbinic retreat called "Beit Midrash in the Hills." The program was sponsored by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, part of the American Jewish University of Los Angeles, in partnership with the Rabbinical Assembly, the professional organization of Conservative rabbis, which I currently serve as president.
Like most people, I would imagine, my first thoughts upon learning that the Memorial Day weekend here in America would coincide with the festival of Shavuot this year were not happy ones. Three-day weekends are a precious commodity, even for rabbis. Giving one up for three days of Shabbat and Yom Tov was simply not a fair exchange. I’m sure that I like being in synagogue a little more than the average bear, but really… on Memorial Day weekend?
My son-in-law Yoni Warren, a Navy chaplain in Okinawa, Japan posted to a Marine battalion, has spent the better part of the past week discovering just how difficult and painful a rabbi’s life can be, in uniform or out. A note to help understand this story… In the military, regardless of what corps you’re in as a chaplain, you minister to all military personnel regardless of faith, corps, or any other determinant.