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Beth Tikvah Welcomes Cub Scout Pack #613

08/01/2019 08:28:02 PM


Deb Bakal

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent-and heterosexual.”


So began my son Zach’s personal essay for college admission back in 2009 paraphrasing the Scout Law that all scouts learn and repeat often. Even as a newly minted Eagle Scout he struggled with his affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of their discriminatory practices towards LGBTQ individuals. A friend and fellow scout left the troop because he was gay, giving up his own opportunity to be an Eagle as back in 2009 BSA denied membership to all “known and avowed homosexuals.” Jeff and Zach wore special custom rainbow knots on their uniforms to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community and wrote letters to leadership to protest the BSA policies. They both had trouble reconciling their continued involvement in scouting with their personal feelings of justice. The Union for Reform Judaism also disavowed BSA and asked that their member synagogues not sponsor any units because of these policies.


Larry Bernstein, an active member of Beth Tikvah at that time, who served on our board and the regional Scouting Council, wanted our temple to sponsor a troop and asked both Rabbi Weiss and Rabbi Covitz, and they both turned him down. Ditto with Rabbi Tachman. Larry, though sympathetic to LGBTQ concerns, knew first hand how scouting can teach young people about character and leadership all while learning and having fun. As a young mom, I remember fondly Pinewood Derby races where we would cheer on Zach’s wooden car, camping trips where we deep-fried turkeys and rolled down the Michigan sand dunes and hikes in the woods of state parks. Zach was mentored by older scouts who taught him how to do blacksmithing and rope-tying. He helped on their Eagle projects which included building projects and doing landscaping. Jeff and Zach helped organize the first aid program in which the scouts learn to handle emergency medical situations and even featured Syd in a breakout role as a bleeding, injured patient. But these scouting memories were before we understood or even thought about the organization’s policies toward sexual orientation. Years later, Becca talks about how she resented that Zach had Boy Scouts with his dad, and she wanted to be a Scout as well. She wanted to do camp outs and hiking like the boys did.

For me, one of the most important messages of the High Holidays is that we can change and become better people. We can, through examination of our flaws and wrongdoings, learn how to improve ourselves and not repeat our mistakes. Teshuvah, this process of repentance, through which we transform ourselves, is central to the upcoming Days of Awe. The Boy Scouts of America has had its own “Teshuvah” moments and has changed its policies. Now membership is no longer restricted based on sexual orientation and gender. With this new inclusiveness, the URJ has reversed its ban on synagogue’s sponsoring BSA packs and troops.

Rabbi Tachman and Stu Gallup, a long time member, were talking a few months back about scouting as BSA had approached Beth Tikvah to ask us to sponsor a Cub Scout unit. Stu is very involved with his son Isaac in his pack sponsored by a local rotary club. Together they realized that having Beth Tikvah sponsor a Cub Scout pack could provide opportunities for our young families to be involved in Scouting at our temple. This Cub Scout pack is open to all children(girls and boys) ages kindergarten through fifth grade. It will have a Jewish orientation but is open to non-Jews as well, similar to our Early Childhood program. Stu brought his proposal to the board and it was approved. He has volunteered to head up this effort to build Cub Scout pack #613 at Beth Tikvah. Stu would be happy to talk to any interested families and adults who want to be involved. You can contact him at and he will have a table at the annual picnic to share information about this exciting new venture. My whole family has great memories of our time involved with BSA-despite its challenging past-and I know that like our Beth Tikvah community, the scouting community helped my son to grow as a person. I wish the same for your families and children.

May these upcoming holidays be meaningful for you and your loved ones.

Shana Tova,

Deb Bakal


Wed, January 22 2020 25 Tevet 5780