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 Supreme Court Was Right On Gay Marriage

07/02/2015
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…

06/25/2015
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!

06/18/2015
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

Iran's Anti-Semitism Can't Be Separated From A Nuclear Deal

06/11/2015
Special To The Jewish Week

As the deadline for a proposed deal between the P5+1 countries and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program looms at the end of June, there is ample reason to be concerned. As of this writing, early indications are that the deal, whose final details are yet to be announced, will fall short of what is needed to make it credible, and sensible.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

On Corruption In Soccer, And Shul

06/04/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

Although I am an avid sports fan, soccer has never really been a favorite of mine. I enjoy watching World Cup matches, because the stakes are high, and you’re watching the best of the best playing matches that matter. But in general, like most Americans, the lack of scoring in soccer invariably leaves me wanting more.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

What Chaplains Do

A Naval Academy rabbi knew the midshipman killed in the Amtrak crash and served at the funeral.

05/19/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

When people think of rabbis, they instinctively associate them with synagogues. That’s where most people encounter rabbis – when they come to services.

Rabbi Yonatan Warren, in glasses, with the family at Justin Zemser's funeral. Getty Images

Poor Bibi. Poor Israel. And Poor Us.

05/07/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

In an article that appeared in the May 5 issue of Haaretz, Israel’s preeminent English language newspaper, the well-respected columnist Chemi Shalev pointed to the irony of Israel’s most recent coalition-building crisis. By withdrawing at the very last moment from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s emerging coalition, Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, had gifted the Israeli left, who reviles him, with an unintentionally sweet gift: schadenfreude.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

Celebration: 30 Years Ago, JTS Admitted Women Into The Rabbinical School

04/30/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

For two days this week, at its annual convention, the Rabbinical Assembly, the professional organization of Conservative rabbis, devoted itself to reflecting on a significant anniversary in the history of the Conservative movement. Thirty years ago, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the storied academic center of that movement, made the momentous decision to admit women to its Rabbinical School, and ultimately ordain them as rabbis.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

This Is The Only State Of Israel That We Have

04/23/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

As we celebrate this Yom Ha’atzma’ut, the sixty-seventh birthday of the State of Israel, I share a treasured Israel memory.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik

What Is The Definition Of 'Survivor'?

04/17/2015
Jewish Week Online Columnist

In the mid-1980’s, just a few years after I began my rabbinate at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, I traveled to Poland with a UJA-Federation Rabbinic Cabinet mission. It was shortly after my two older children were born, and from the moment that I entered the gate of Auschwitz and saw a display of clothing stripped from infants and toddlers who had been brought there for extermination, I was forever changed. Before that visit, the harsh reality of the Holocaust had been an abstract set of numbers and grainy images. When I returned, I had gained what I now understand to be an intuition of an infinitesimal fraction of the horror of what had transpired. I was shaken to the core.

Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
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