La Shana Tova.
As the new year 5781 approaches, we all take a few moments to take stock on where we have been during the last year and what we have to look forward to. Had I written this message six months ago, of course, it would have been very different.
Who could have predicted in February that we would have spent the months of March through September in lockdowns, quarantines and isolation, practicing social distancing and wearing masks, wondering if that person without a mask whom we just passed on the street or who was going the wrong way in our aisle at the grocery store was infected with Covid-19, worrying that we or members of our families would be infected?
Who would have thought that we would be concerned about the outcome if we or our family members and friends were infected. Would they make it? Would they fully recover? Would they give it to someone else?
Writing now, I have the same kinds of questions for the coming year – Will this ever end? Can we be safe on the streets, at the gym, at the grocery store, in a restaurant? Is it safe to send our kids to school? If not, when will it be? When will we get back to normal? Will we ever get back to normal?
None of my questions are easy to answer. I keep thinking about the story I heard some years ago relating to the high-speed train they were talking about building from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. When would it ever be finished? When the Messiah comes was the answer. The good news is that it is now in full operation. I hope that we too will either be back to normal or at least a more comfortable normal before the Messiah comes.
I know we all miss each other and the personal contact we used to have. When we do see someone we know, go to the doctor or even a properly socially distanced outside restaurant, we no longer shake hands. We certainly don’t hug people who are not in our immediate family or Covid-free circle. And oh, how we all miss that contact, that personal touch.
I know that Scouting has its own problems, some of which are not related to Covid and some that are – the bankruptcy, virtual meetings, loss of camping and in-person meetings and activities. Many of us have found that a day without a Zoom meeting is like a day without sunshine.
But this too will pass and Scouting will emerge from today in a much-improved posture. Let’s look forward to the new year and what we can do on a positive note. Let’s be thankful for what we have and what we can do. The one shining tool we have at our disposal is technology. It has helped us maintain at least minimal contact and, in many cases, more contact than we had before. Many of us have found that technology in the face of the pandemic has enhanced and enlarged our contacts. At my synagogue Zoom and live-streaming have increased participation in Shabbat services and learning experiences. More people are “coming out” to lectures and minyans. Some members who were previously physically unable to participate in activities now fully enjoy them.
I look forward to the coming year with a whole, new approach to Scouting for Jewish Youth. We have formed the new National Jewish Committee on Scouting. It is a tax-exempt Section 501(c)(3) corporation organized in the State of Illinois. We are in the final stages of negotiating a formal memorandum of understanding with the Boy Scouts of America which will enable us to continue our role in providing opportunities for Jewish Scouts and Scouters in all aspects of Scouting. We look forward to continuing to administer our religious emblem program, our scholarship programs, our camping and other activities and to improving our communication with Jewish volunteers, units and Scouts throughout the country and around the world in the year to come. Very shortly our first Zoom Cub Scout Sukkot Family Happening will take place. More on-line learning and activities will follow soon. Join us in bringing the values of Judaism and Scouting to more Jewish youth throughout our country. If you would like to volunteer to help, contact me at chairman@Jewishscouting.org and I’ll find you something rewarding to do.
Bruce Chudacoff, Chairman
National Jewish Committee on Scouting