About the Honorees
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik, spiritual leader of The Forest Hills Jewish Center, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1981. Immediately upon his ordination, he served as Assistant Rabbi under the late Rabbi Ben Zion Bokser for almost three years. With Rabbi Bokser’s death in 1984, Rabbi Skolnik assumed the rabbinic leadership of the congregation, and has served in that capacity ever since.
In addition to his responsibilities at The Forest Hills Jewish Center, the largest Conservative congregation in Queens, Rabbi Skolnik is involved in numerous communal activities. He is the President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the 1600-member international organization of Conservative rabbis, a Vice President of the Zamir Choral Foundation, a Vice President of MERCAZ, the Zionist arm of the Conservative movement, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Masorti Foundation. A past president of the Commission on Synagogue Relations of UJA-Federation , past chairman of its Committee on AIDS and member of its Board of Directors, he also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Solomon Schechter School of Queens, and the Board of Governors of the New York Board of Rabbis.
Rabbi Skolnik has published numerous articles- he is a frequent contributor to the print edition of The Jewish Week- and he writes a weekly column for the Jewish Week’s online edition under the heading of “A Rabbi’s World.” He has lectured extensively throughout the New York area, and has appeared on national radio and television. His collaborations with the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble on “The Chanukkah Story,” “The Birthday of the World: Music and Traditions of the High Holidays,” and “A Taste of Eternity: A Musical Shabbat,” have received wide critical acclaim. These productions, commissioned by Public Radio International, feature scripts written by Rabbi Skolnik, and read by Theodore Bikel and Leonard Nimoy.
Rabbi Skolnik is married to Robin Segal Skolnik, the Middle School Librarian at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan. They have four children: Rabbi Hillel Skolnik, who serves as the Rabbi of the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation in Florida, and is married to Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik; Leora, who is married to Rabbi Yonatan Warren, a Lieutenant (jg) in the United States Navy serving as a chaplain in Okinawa, Japan; Talya, who is entering her senior year at Barnard College; and Matan, who is attending the University of Michigan in the fall. They also have two grandchildren, Dafna Zahava and Liav Noam, the son and daughter of Hillel and Sharon.
Cantor Randy Herman
Descended from performing vaudevillian grandparents on one side and off-the-boat, Eastern European orthodox Jews on the other, Hazzan Reuven (Randy) Herman seemed destined to integrate the worlds of musical performance and Judaism. He was raised in Grand Rapids, MI, and attended the University of Michigan, majoring in theater and psychology. After working briefly as a musician in Paris, and as an actor on the East Coast, Hazzan Herman settled in Chicago, where he cofounded the critically acclaimed Theater Oobleck, an avant-garde theater troupe. As a pianist, singer and songwriter, he has performed throughout the U.S. and abroad in nightclubs and festivals, at private events, and on live radio, and has worked extensively as a studio musician. In addition to contributing keyboard parts and vocals on several recordings, he has produced his own CD’s which have been heard on college and commercial radio and reviewed in major publications. He is featured on the CD The Spirit of Israel II, produced by the Cantors Assembly and the USCJ.
Hazzan Herman spent a year of study in Jerusalem, where he attended the Conservative Yeshiva, spent time in ultra-orthodox communities, and sang in the Great Synagogue choir. He received cantorial investiture and a Masters of Sacred Music from the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC in 2008. He has been a featured guest cantor and concert performer in several synagogues throughout the U.S., and has led Shabbat services at the famed Chor Shul (Choral Synagogue) in Vilnius, Lithuania, and at the Great Synagogue of Stockholm. He served as the cantor of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor (The Hamptons); as High Holiday cantor for two years at Temple El Emeth in Youngstown, OH; as a frequent leader of the legendary Friday evening services at Ramath Orah on 110th Street in NYC; as musical director of the Friday Night Live series at Temple Beth El in Stamford, CT; and as the substitute cantor for one year at Temple Israel of Great Neck. Hazzan Herman is currently working on a new CD of his exciting and innovative original Jewish songs. He recently returned from the Cantors Assembly Mission to Poland, where he performed with several cantors at the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival. After a one year, part time interim position at Bet Torah in 2007, Hazzan Herman joined the community as our fulltime Hazzan in the summer of 2008.
Adam Schönberger was born in Budapest, Hungary. He majored in theatre studies, comparative literature and linguistics at the University of Pécs. After a year of studying at Bar Ilan University in Israel and Paideia Institute in Stockholm, he returned to Hungary and became involved in the Masorti young adult organization called MAROM Budapest (www.marom.hu/en). The organization has more than 800 members focusing on Jewish culture, Jewish identity, religion, Israel and social justice. The main focus of the organization is to create a flourishing and dynamic young Jewish community in Budapest. One of its main projects include Lake Bánk Festival (www.tekerjatora.hu/en) that brings together Roma’s, Slovaks, Jews, immigrants and other civic groups. Another project is the Quarter6Quarter7 Festival (www.quarter6quarter7.com), which focuses on the protection of Jewish urban heritage. This festival incorporates more than 40 venues and organizations in the old Jewish Quarter and it aims to establish a joint civil action in order to protect and revitalize the district and its Jewish cultural life. Adam has also been the director of MAROM Budapest since 2003 and is also the founder and director of Sirály Cultural and Community Center. Adam is currently working on the opening of the new community center in September 2014.