In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs.
Join us as National Director, Cub Scouting Anthony Berger shares the importance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to Jewish families. Read on to hear Anthony explain how he brings a Jewish perspective to Scouting and how you can be aware and welcoming of Jewish families in your Scouting program.
For those who may not know what Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are, can you please tell us a little about these holidays?
Anthony: Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. This year it will be September 29 through October 1. The Jewish calendar is a based on lunar months, which means the dates for Rosh Hashanah can shift from year-to-year on a secular (Gregorian) calendar. According to the Jewish calendar we will be welcoming in the year 5780. Immediately following Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, which is also known as the Day of Atonement. It begins on the evening of October 8 and lasts through the evening of October 9. In the Jewish faith, these two holidays are the most significant and are referred to as the High Holy Days or the Days of Awe. It is a time of reflection, of renewal, and of asking for forgiveness of each other and asking forgiveness from G-d (conservative and Orthodox Jews commonly do not put the “o” in God). It includes day-long services filled with reflection and praying.
Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?
Anthony: Because of the specific nature of these holidays, I am unaware of any Scouting families who practice Judaism to have Scouting traditions that are directly connected to the High Holy Days
For Scout units who may have members who are Jewish, what are some considerations and ways they can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe these holidays?
Anthony: For units who want to be considerate toward observant Jewish families, my advice is not to hold any meetings or activities during this time, as observant Jews will be unable to participate. For instance, I’ve heard of units who had Jewish families and unintentionally scheduled activities during the High Holidays. They were making an effort to be welcoming by including Hanukkah traditions in their December meetings not knowing that the High Holidays, for the lack of a better word, are more significant. Being cognizant of the High Holidays and working around them truly means a lot to Scouting families of the Jewish faith, and during this time period it is also appropriate to wish them a Happy New Year.
Finally, how do you bring a Jewish perspective to Scouting?
Anthony: I am privileged to have served Scouting professionally for over twenty years and in my current role I have the opportunity to bring a different perspective to several conversations. The staff at the National Service Center is growing in diversity, yet the common bond among us is the Scout Oath and Scout Law. I have always enjoyed the ability to learn about other faiths and to share my own in an environment that is friendly, courteous, and kind.
In Judaism, there is a concept known as Tikkun Olam which loosely translated means “repairing the world.” It is a concept that humans are in partnership with G-d to make the world a better place through their actions. To me, that sounds a lot like Scouting; to help other people at all times, to do a good turn daily, and when we follow the Scout Oath and Scout Law, we all are practicing in Tikkun Olam.
Special thanks to National Director, Cub Scouting, Staff Advisor to the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, Scout father, and member of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX, Anthony Berger for sharing his story on Scouting Wire.