A Rabbi's World

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

The Challenge Of Being A Likable Leader

05/08/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

At the annual convention of the Rabbinical Assembly this coming week in Dallas, Texas, my two-year term as President of the Assembly will come to an end. Not surprisingly, I approach this transition with mixed feelings – glad to hand over the considerable day-to-day responsibilities of the presidency of an international professional organization to a colleague, but also aware that a door is closing on a very special opportunity.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Actually, J Street Won

The Conference of Presidents has compromised its integrity as a group that truly represents American Jewry.

04/30/2014 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.  Sometimes you win, but really lose. And then other times you lose, but really win.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Saluting Our Military Chaplains

04/24/2014 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

On Wednesday of this week, in Philadelphia, I was saddened but honored to be a co-officiant at the funeral service for Rabbi Aaron Landes, a prominent rabbi in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania for many years. Both as President of the Rabbinical Assembly and as a long-time friend of the family – his in-laws had been members of my congregation for over fifty years – it was a deeply meaningful experience for me.

Lieutenant Yonatan Warren (r) in Pohang, South Korea last week. Courtesy of Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Telling The Passover Story Fully And Powerfully

04/17/2014 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

When we think of the challenges of hosting a seder, the physical – the cleaning and cooking – immediately spring to mind. Another challenge is negotiating the tension between the meal’s ritual requirements and the obligation to make the story actually speak to the participants who are there.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

At Carnegie Hall, Teens Sing Jewish Identity

04/02/2014 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

It is hardly a secret that the Jewish world that we inhabit, particularly here in New York, is plagued by deep divisions. Interdenominational friction makes it at best extremely difficult for rabbis and laypeople to work together across those lines for the betterment of the Jewish community as a whole, and there is little reason to hope that the situation will be changing any time soon. There are pulls to the right and to the left.  Unless Israel is threatened, we find it hard to talk to each other both literally and figuratively.

Hazamir, the International Jewish High School Choir, has figured out how to solve that problem: Transcend the spoken word and the ideologies behind it, and replace it with the harmony of beautifully sung music. That's exactly what happened this past Sunday at Carnegie Hall, when the choir performed.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Power-Sharing In Synagogues

03/31/2014 - 20:00
Special To The Jewish Week

As a profession, the rabbinate as we know it is a creation of the modern era.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

We Are the People in Your Neighborhood: What A Synagogue Really Is

03/20/2014 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

As you might imagine, I spend a lot of time talking about my synagogue with other rabbis and laypeople. It is a natural thing for professionals and lay leaders to share “war stories” about the institutions that play such important roles in their lives, and often times, the insights gained are invaluable. Usually there are more than a few laughs that accompany this sharing, as we inevitably discover how universal certain synagogue characteristics are, both for better and for less good.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Persia, Then And Now

03/13/2014 - 20:00
Jewish Week Online Columnist

With the imminent advent of Purim and our annual encounter with Haman and the forces of evil, we are, yet again, brought into uncomfortably close contact with the darker side of Jewish history. 

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens.

"From SodaStream to Rawabi: What Peace Might Look Like"

02/26/2014 - 19:00

Just about a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit the SodaStream factory in Israel.  Actually, how do define exactly where the factory is located has led to one of the more explosive and high profile manifestations of the so-called BDS (boycott-civestment-sanction) dispute.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the spiritual leader of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens, New York.
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