A Rabbi's World

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

Goodbye, Queens; Hello, Okinawa!

08/01/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

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.  

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

Tisha B'Av Thoughts, 2012

07/26/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Regardless of what else is going on in today’s Jewish world, Tisha B’Av- the fast of the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av- and the three weeks that lead up to it- is a sad and dispiriting time.

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

Penn State, Revisited

07/19/2012
jewish Week Online Columnist

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. 

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

What the Doctor Ordered: Shabbat at Camp Ramah

07/12/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

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.

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

Meeting Gilad Shalit

07/03/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

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.
 

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

Self-Image and the Non-Orthodox World: The Case For Auto-Emancipation 2012

06/20/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

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.

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

Breaking Down The Culture Of Silence

From Penn State to Brooklyn and Too Many Places In Between

06/14/2012
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.

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

When The Teacher Becomes A Student

06/07/2012

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.

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

Yizkor On Memorial Day: The Layering Of Memory

05/31/2012
Jewish Week Online Columnist

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?

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

New Rabbis: The Agony and the Ecstasy

05/25/2012

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.

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