I became chairman of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting at the National Annual Meeting this spring. Since that time, quite a bit has happened in Jewish Scouting.
1. Changes in Membership Standards: The BSA has changed its membership standards to remove any reference to sexual orientation for youth members. This new approach to Scouting takes effect January 1, 2014. We look forward to being able to concentrate on Scouting matters in the coming years. While the question of adult standards has not yet been resolved, I am hopeful that sexual orientation will cease to be an issue for anyone in the Scouting Movement.
2. 2013 Jamboree: Hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish Scouts and Scouters visited our information booth at the first Jamboree at the Summit. Our exhibits were state-of-the-art and far ahead of the other religious exhibits. Almost 1000 people participated in the first Boy Scout Dreidel Spin. Although we did not break the world record we look forward to doing so at the next Jamboree. Jewish Scouts were able to participate in appropriate Jewish religious services at our synagogue and chapel tents. They had the opportunity to meet each other in a camp-wide Friday evening service and everyone who needed to have kosher meals was able to do so. I express my thanks to the dedicated volunteers who prepared the last Jamboree and the chaplains and staff who executed it. We will soon be forming a committee to plan Jewish portion of the next Jamboree and expect to have a bigger and better Jewish presence there.
3. Technology: We have revamped our website to make it more user friendly. I expect that the website will be the central clearinghouse for all things relating to Jewish Scouting in the future. Today, you can buy patches on the website; tomorrow you will be able to obtain program helps there; in a few years there is no boundary.
4. Program Helps: We are organizing program helps into two areas – religious and regular programs. We have begun to post suggested religious observances on the website so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We are working on guides to programming such as kosher camping, kinnus planning and other activities to provide assistance to anyone who needs it.
5. J-Scouts: Our listserve provides an opportunity for all people interested in Jewish Scouting to tell others what they are doing, to sound off on important matters and to find information on Jewish Scouting. I am pleased to see that people are using it and getting answers to their questions as needed.
6. Emblems and Awards: We are currently working on our own religious emblem program to bring requirements for the awards into the 21st Century. Keep an eye open for developments.
7. International Scouting: The International Forum of Jewish Scouts has become more visible in recent weeks with its own website (We will provide you with a link to it from our website.). International Jewish Scouting has recently created the Shalom Award for local unit leaders and others working on international Scouting activities and the Na’hshon Fellowship which will honor those Scouters who have led the world in Jewish Scouting. We expect the nomination process to begin soon.
8. Local events: Many local activities are taking place around the country from Ten Commandment Hikes to Kinnusim and other activities. Please tell us about your activities so we can share them with others and provide program ideas for other units.
9. Future Plans: Nothing stays the same for very long. We are looking forward to Scout Shabbat this year on February 8, the anniversary of the founding of Scouting in America. We are currently planning for new projects to address the needs of Jewish Scouting throughout the country. Among other things we have found that there are a number of projects that we can begin to enhance Jewish Scouting in the future. I will tell you about these projects as we develop them. there will be opportunities for people to assist in projects, to sponsor worthwhile activities and to spread the word about Jewish Scouting in the near future.
Thank you for all you do for Scouting. Contact me if you need anything relating to Jewish Scouting in the coming year. I look forward to continuing to work with you.