On Sunday, Nov. 20, the Dallas Jewish Committee on Scouting (DJCoS) hosted its first Religious Emblems Workshop in over three years at DATA of Plano. The Jewish Religious Emblem is a chance for Scouts to learn more about Judaism and how Jewish values are also the values of Scouting. Twelve Scouts from across the Metroplex met to work on the requirements of the Maccabee, Aleph and Ner Tamid Awards. Scouts learned about Jewish holidays, famous American Jews and their contributions, Biblical heroes and Jewish rituals.
Andy Domenico, one of the event organizers, taught the candidates for the Aleph Award (grades 3-5). Scouts made their own shofars, mezuzot and spice boxes to use at home. Domenico had traveled to Ellis Island, where he had located records from his family members who had immigrated to America. He regaled his class with stories that brought the Jewish experience to life as he taught them about famous American Jews like Emma Lazarus. Rachel Leventon worked with older Scouts to learn about more complex issues such as Shabbat and holiday observances, the Jewish calendar, Israeli geography and the distribution of Jews in the United States. DATA of Plano Rabbi Eli Nissel demonstrated wrapping tefillin for the oldest Scouts and answered the youngest Scouts’ questions about what it is like to be a rabbi.
“We are really excited to be back after COVID-19,” said Marissa Terra, one of the committee members. “So far this year, we have helped honor veterans by placing flags at the cemetery with the Jewish War Veterans. We will be hosting events throughout the year such as a Hanukkah party this month and Tu B’Shevat Seder.”
Rachel Leventon, DJCoS committee chair, says she is most excited about the community-wide Scout Shabbat to be held on Feb. 10-11. “We want to make sure that all Scouts are celebrating and being celebrated in their own communities, so DJCoS is reaching out to rabbis, education directors, men’s clubs and sisterhoods to organize simultaneous Scout Shabbat celebrations within each congregation in the Dallas area.” Scout Shabbat celebrations will include Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Girl Scouts and youth in any other scouting organizations.
The Jewish community has been part of Scouting in the U.S. since its inception in 1911, when Mortimer Schiff financed the launch of BSA (Boy Scouts of America) alongside Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. The 12th tenet of the Scout Law is that a Scout is reverent. The Scout Oath states, “I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”
The National Jewish Committee on Scouting (NJCoS,
jewishscouting.org) promotes and supports Jewish Scouts and Scouting at the national level including coordinating Jewish Religious Emblems, Nationwide Scout Shabbat, Jewish worship at National Jamboree and high adventure and training for shomer Shabbos Scouts. The Dallas Jewish Committee on Scouting (DJCoS, dallasjscouts.org) promotes and supports Scouting in the Greater Dallas Jewish Community. DJCoS’s mission includes Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing, Exploring, Sea Scouts and Girl Scouts, and supports the efforts of youth in any other organized Scouting program.
A grassroots effort is underway to revitalize DJCoS with renewed focus on four strategic pillars: promoting Jewish Scouting; increasing the visibility of Jews in Scouting; bringing Jews together through Scouting; and celebrating Jewish Scouts. The current focus is on Jewish youth in their current units, along with one unit in the Dallas area chartered by Jewish organizations, not trying to get synagogues to start new Scouting units. Scouting liaisons are being identified at each congregation/school/organization.
Upcoming events include:
Dec. 19, 6-7:30 p.m.: Hanukkah Party hosted at Congregation Beth Torah, 720 Lookout Dr. in Richardson. All Jewish Scouts and prospective Scouts and their families are invited to attend. Dietary laws will be observed.
January (TBD): Tu B’Shevat Event hosted at Anshai Torah
Feb. 10-11: Nationwide Scout Shabbat in Scouts’ own congregations
Other TBD activities include: Kosher Chili Cook-off volunteers, ADL Walk Against Hate, JCC Bagel Run, Yom HaAtzmaut volunteers, Memorial Day with JWV. Suggestions are welcome.
Readers can help support Scouts in the following ways: Connect DJCoS to your education director and/or youth programs chair; help identify a Scouting liaison in your congregation/organization; include
DJCoS events in newsletters, Shabbat announcements, religious school emails; encourage (and celebrate!) participation in DJCoS events among Scouts; provide space for a DJCoS activity at your facility; mentor or facilitate classes; celebrate Scout Shabbat on Feb. 10-11; identify, support and celebrate Eagle and Gold Award Projects in the Jewish community; support and recognize Scouts and Scout volunteers in your congregation/organization.
MPA, chair, Dallas Jewish Committee on Scouting; committee chair, Pack 262, Chisholm Trail; District (Plano) committee member, Troop 1001, Northern Trail District (Richardson); member, Congregation Beth Torah