Like those in the Cub Scouts program, Boy Scouts religious emblems that may be earned by the members of the Jewish faith are age specific. The oldest religious emblem created, owned and maintained by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting (NJCOS) is the Ner Tamid, named in honor of the “eternal light” that is seen hanging in front of the holy ark in which are housed the sacred Torah scrolls in a Jewish sanctuary.
The Ner Tamid religious emblem is earned by a Boy Scout in sixth, seventh or eighth grades while working with a counselor. A counselor is someone who is quite knowledgable in the traditions and practice of the Jewish faith and could very well be a rabbi, cantor, religious school teacher or other Jewish community leader. Since this is a typical time Scouts may also be working on becoming a bar mitzvah (“son of the commandment”), it is entirely possible that their pre- and post-bar mitzvah learning may incorporate the requirements found in the Ner Tamid religious emblem.
Finding a counselor for unaffiliated Jews may prove to be difficult. If a local Jewish Committee on Scouting exists at the council, the Scout or his parents may inquire as to where a suitable counselor may be found. In the event that a Jewish Scout is living in a remote area where no Jewish counselors may be found, the NJCOS chair from the respective Northeast, Central, Southern or Western region can appoint someone or work directly with the Scout via telephone, email or other correspondence in order to ensure they can earn the religious emblem.
If a Boy Scout earns the Ner Tamid religious emblem, he is entitled to wear the medal created by the NJCOS. The Ner Tamid religious emblem medal is a facsimile of an eternal light suspended by a blue and white ribbon and may be worn at troop courts of honor and Scout Shabbats. During the course of his Scouting career, he may also wear the purple and silver religious knot emblematic of his achievement on his uniform. Scouts who have previously earned the Maccabee and Aleph religious emblems of the Cub Scout program may wear one or two Cub Scout devices on the religious knot, which indicates their progress in Jewish Scouting.
Older Boy Scouts in the ninth, tenth, eleventh or twelfth grades are entitled to earn the Etz Chaim (“tree of life”) religious emblem. This is the most recent of the religious emblems created by the NJCOS and is intended to be the most challenging. This is the only Jewish religious emblem that may be also be earned by a female as a Venturer Scout. The rigorous requirements will take many months to achieve and can only be accomplished by working with a counselor.