A Sample Ner Tamid Presentation Given by a Scoutmaster
Rabbis frequently ask: "What should a Scout Sabbath entail? What should be its goals? Is there a special liturgy prepared?" The National Jewish Committee on Scouting offers the following as advice or guidelines:
Scout Sabbath offers and opportunity for worshippers to honor Scouts and Scouters, as well as to learn more themselves about the valur of Scouting as a youth program chartered to a Jewish organization. It gives a rabbi a framework to address Scouts directly, in addition to speaking about Scouting to the congregation.:
Some rabbis use regular liturgy and supplement it with special reading. Others devote the entire worship services to Scouting themes, using Scouts and Scouters as readers. There is no "one right way" to conduct such a service. Most rabbis understand the purpose to be a strengthening of the bonds between the synagogue and the Scouting unit and plan accordingly.
The Jewish Committee on Scouting of the National Capital Area Council is eager to provide assistance to Washington area synagogues who would like to conduct a Scout Shabbat. Please contact the Committee Chairman or the NCAC Council office in Bethesda, Maryland, for information. In addition, many Scout and Venturer units have chaplains and chaplain's aides. Utilizing these individuals strengthens their commitments to the Scouting unit and to the Jewish organization that uses the Scouting program.
Another feature central to many service is the presentation of religious emblems. Since its inception in 1910, Scouting has been used by synagogues, churches, and many other religious organizations. Approximately 50 percent of all Scouting units today are chartered to religious groups, because religious leaders have long recognized that scouting provides them with exceptional opportunities to draw youth closer to their congregations.
It was a natural outgrowth of this relationship that the religious emblems program was originated to give recognition to youth who had demonstrated religious growth. In 1945, the National Jewish Committee on Scouting issued the Ner Tamid emblem for Boy Scouts, grades six through nine, and registered Venturers (boys and girls), through grade nine, who are Jewish. Today, there is also the Aleph emblem for Cub Scouts and Webelos and the Maccabee emblem for Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts (grades one through three) who are Jewish. The newest youth award is the Etz Chaim, for Boy Scouts in high school, ages 14 to 17, and registered Venturers (boys and girls) ages 14 to 20.
Since these emblems were designed and implemented by rabbis and not by the Boy Scouts of America, it is appropriate that they be presented during a religious service at a youth's synagogue.
A variety of Scouting-related prayers and readings are outlined in the balance of this brochure. A Scout Shabbat program cover, No. 15-4599G, is available from the Relationships Division of the Boy Scouts of America. This cover is a handsome three-color folder on which is printed the Ner Tamid emblem. Prayers and messages for Shabbat services may be printed on the inside for congregational participation.
THE NER TAMID PROGRAM FOR BOY SCOUTS AND VENTURERS
The Ner Tamid emblem is a pendant representing the Eternal Light. It is attached to a blue-and-white ribbon and a bronze bar pin that carries the inscription "Ner Tamid" in Hebrew and "Eternal Light" in English.
The Boy Scouts of America has authorized the Ner Tamid emblem to be worn over the left breast pocket at the left of the Eagle Scout badge. When the Eagle badge is not worn, the Ner Tamid is centered above the flap of the left breast pocket. Ner Tamid Requirements
THE ALEPH PROGRAM FOR CUB SCOUTS
The National Jewish Committee on Scouting has developed the Aleph emblem program to help Jewish boys who are Cub Scouts advance in the knowledge and practice of Jewish religious living. The Aleph program also provides a basis for a positive and close relationship between a Cub Scout and his religious school teacher, who serves as counselor.
The Aleph medal is a bronze pendant representing an open Torah scroll and the Eternal Light. The pendant is attached to a bronze bar pin that carries the Hebrew letters "Aleph" and the word "Aleph". Aleph Requirements
THE MACCABEE AWARD FOR TIGER CUBS AND YOUNGER CUB SCOUTS
As the number of participants in Tiger Cubs grew, the need was felt for a comparable challenge on this youngest level. Hence, the creation of the Maccabee Award with its distinct emblem, requirements, and counselor's guide. The Maccabee Award takes its name from Judah Maccabee and his brothers who led the military and religious struggle against the Syrian king, Antiochus, who attempted to suppress the practice of Judaism. Their revolt ended victoriously in the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in the year 168 B.C.E. the holiday of Hanukkah (Feast of Lights) celebrates that victory.
The Maccabee medal is a bronze pendant depicting the Menorah. The pendant is attached to a bronze bar pin that carries the word "Maccabee". Maccabee Requirements and Maccabee Counselor's Guide
THE ETZ CHAIM PROGRAM FOR OLDER BOY SCOUTS AND VENTURERS
The newest award established by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting is the Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) Award. This award is to encourage the young adult to explore adult Jewish roles in the context of family, community, and Jewish people. The requirements can be completed in six months and with a counselor's assistance.
The Etz Chaim emblem is a pendant representing the Tree of Life. It is attached to a blue-and-white ribbon and a bronze bar pin that carries the inscription "Etz Chaim" in Hebrew and "Tree of Life" in English. The Boy Scouts of America has authorized the Etz Chaim emblem to be worn over the left breast pocket at the left of the Eagle Scout badge. When the Eagle badge is not worn, the Etz Chaim is centered above the flap of the left breast pocket. Etz Chaim Requirements
THE SHOFAR AWARD FOR ADULTS
The National Jewish Committee on Scouting has established the Shofar Award, which is a silver Ner Tamid pendant superimposed on a silver Shofar, suspended from a blue-and-white ribbon. The award was developed to recognize outstanding service by adults in the promotion of Scouting among Jewish boys. Shofar Requirements
RESPONSIVE READING BASED ON THE TWELVE POINTS OF THE SCOUT LAW
SCOUTING INVOLVES: TO ACCOMPLISH:
1. "Duty to God," a religious
1. Spiritual growth emblems program.
2. Individual advancement
2. Personal growth
3. Codes: Scout Oath or Promise,
3. Character development law, and motto
4. Outdoor skills, cooking,
4. Preparation for the future Conservation, merit badges. (Hobbies and careers)
5. Hiking, camping, cooking
5. Skills for recreation.
6. Aquatics, fitness and other
6. Personal fitness merit badges
STATEMENTS BY LORD BADEN-POWELL
"The Scout, in his promise, undertakes to do his duty to his king and country only in the second place; his first duty is to God. It is with this idea before us and recognizing that God is the one Father of us all, that we Scouts count ourselves a brotherhood despite the difference among us of country, creed, or class. We realize that in addition to the interests of our particular country, there is a higher mission before us, namely the promotion of the Kingdom of God; That is, the rule of Peace and Goodwill on earth. In the Scouts each form of religion is respected and its active practice encouraged and through the spread of our brotherhood in all countries, we have the opportunity in developing the spirit of mutual good will and understanding.
"There is no religious 'side' of the movement. The whole of it is based on religion, that is, on the realization and service of God.
"Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps. Don't let the technical outweigh the moral. Field efficiency, back woodsmanship, camping, hiking, Good Turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end. The end is CHARACTER with a purpose.
"Our objective in the Scouting movement is to give such help as we can in bringing about God's Kingdom on earth by including among youth the spirit and the daily practice in their lives of unselfish goodwill and cooperation."
In addition to providing for specific religious observances, the camping opportunities provided by the Boy Scouts of America offer much in the way of spiritual involvement.
The general spirit of the camps are such that the spiritual lives of the youth are strengthened with the result that they return to their homes with a deeper sense of reverence and firmer desires to be faithful in their religious responsibilities.
Many of your basic objectives can be accomplished through the camping program. It is not an end in itself, but it provides a means to accomplish your goals through Scouting
SCOUT SHABBAT SERMON
By Rabbi Jack Bemporad
Every synagogue, as you know, is a beit tefillah, a house of prayer; a beit midrash, a house of study; and a beit knesset, a house of assembly. Our service on this Sabbath combines all three, for we are here to celebrate a movement that combines all three.
I, for one, have a great fondness for Scouting and the Scouts. I think that no one can read the great tragedy of World War II without noticing that one of its great, great moments was the role that Scouts played in trying to save Danish Jewry. I don't know how many people here fully know that story. The Nazis had basically decided to destroy every Danish Jew. The King put on the yellow star and said we are not here to destroy, we are here to build. And it was the Scouts who made the effort to carry the message to every Jew in the country, and through them, most of the Jews were saved. That is one of the great moments in a very bleak and dark period.
I was also personally able to witness the important work that the Scouts were able to do when I, for 6 years, was a chaplain at a school for emotionally disturbed children. There I saw the work that the Scout troop did, not only with the psychiatric staff, but also with those young boys, giving them a sense of meaning in their lives, a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement, a sense of accomplishment.
And I believe that if there is one way that we could catch the meaning, the essence of what Scouting is, it is to say that Scouts have learned this great lesson: that even in a world where many want to destroy, Scouts are interested in building. Even in a world where it is easy to despair, Scouts want to bring hope. In a world where people are very quick to judge one another, and to condemn one another, and to blame one another for all the things that ail us, Scouts are concerned with building the bridges of hope and faith, and love, and commitment.
Let me tell you what I think is so basic to Scouting and to Judaism and all true religions. It appeals to the strengths of human beings and not to their weaknesses. most of us don't seem to understand that blood can't be squeezed from a turnip and that people can't be forced to be what they are not.
Too much of our education and too much of our human relations are built on demanding things that people simply can't deliver. One thing I really appreciate, one of the things we are celebrating at this service, is the idea implicit in Scouting that everyone has capabilities and that our task is finding a way of approaching and educing those capabilities. Then we can feel good about what we do and our ability to do it. In fact, we can make a difference in our little world and, perhaps gradually begin to make a difference in the larger world.
What I think all genuine teaching must do is educate for responsibility. Isn't it interesting that if we look at our midrash (legends), we find that with respect to Moses and David it specifically says that one of the reasons that they were shepherds is because God was concerned with giving them very small tasks, even insignificant tasks; and by doing those small insignificant tasks, they would learn to be responsible. They would learn to do things right, they would learn to do things carefully, and they would learn to complete their tasks. When they were able to take on small responsibilities, larger ones would follow. The small tasks would become greater, Moses would be able to lead an entire people, and David would become king over Israel.
I think that this education for responsibility, encouraging responsibility, expecting responsibility, not taking over for the individual is one of the great achievements that any good education and any good educator must strive for. The easiest thing is to "take over." I have seen many times teachers and leaders get so exasperated, that they say, "Oh, let me do it." It's always easier for you to do it, but it's always more dangerous and more damaging. The better way is to give the opportunity to make mistakes, to experience, to encourage experimentation. It's only if you begin to flex your muscles in small things, have the capacity to control small things, and have the recognition that one can do these things in an area that is circumscribed, that one can build the confidence, that one can build the sense of capacity to accomplish larger things. Too often we tell our children what to think, we tell them what to do, we tell them what to believe, and we tell them how to act. We don't encourage them to experience their own life and take on the tasks for themselves, until at a certain age we say "you're on your own now."
But how do we educate for responsibility? One of the things that I've always said that our religious school should do is something the Scouts have done for years. It is this: when an individual has learned something in Scouting, he knows he's learned it! Not only is he told what he is supposed to learn, he is told how he is supposed to learn it, and he's told when he has learned it so that he can use it. One of the wonderful things about learning something is that when you know you know it (unfortunately most of us learn a lot of things we don't even know that we know) you use it. You begin to feel that the knowledge has some meaning and some significance and some application to the world in which we live. If we don't feel that it is applicable to the world in which we live, what good is it?
I like the idea that you're told what your goal is, you're told how to reach that goal, and you are given some recognition and even a little symbol to indicate that you've achieved that goal. Then you feel, "Well, I've gone one step further toward knowing and being and doing." That's a wonderful thing. I think we should incorporate it in our religious education and in our general education as well.
Another aspect to Scouting that I really like is that the group supports the individual. Individuality is not crushed. The individual is dedicated to, but not lost in, the group. What you have here is a vital balance wherein each is important and each individual feels that he or she contributes to the whole, yet the whole somehow nourishes the parts. There is an organic balance which is so essential to feeling good about what you do.
A third feature I like about Scouting is the absence of negative criticism; it's all positive reinforcement. When someone does something good, you reinforce that good. When someone does something bad, you dwell on the positive, not on the negative. Ben Azzai put it very well: he asked, "Who is wise?" and then answered by saying, "He who can learn from everyone and everything."
Fourthly, I really like the fact that Scouting tries to direct ambition. Scouting recognizes that ambition is necessary. Although part of you might say, "Well, I probably didn't deserve such-and-such an award," another part of you might say, "I really did deserve it." Without ambition, no one would achieve anything. One has to be clear, of course, that there is a difference between a selfish ambition and a responsible ambition. The responsible ambition is wanting and being and achieving so that you can help others. One of the highlights of this service tonight is the degree to which the whole group felt proud when an individual received an honor. Everybody shared in that award, everybody shared in that honor. It wasn't just the individual being honored, the whole troop was honored. This is the "organic community" of which I spoke, a community that is very important.
Finally, I think that Scouting is important because its members are interested in educating young people for change, yet with a sense of permanence. Change, in the sense that there is no question but that we need to have change. Someone said to me the other day: "Young people have their feet on the accelerator and old people have their feet on the brakes." In other words, the young people are sort of chafing at the bit, they want to get ahead, they want to do new things, they want to do different things, they want to experiment, they want to just rush headlong into life while older people have their foot on the brakes. They say wait a minute, have you thought about this, have you thought about that, keep this in mind, keep that in mind.
But there has got to be a balance between the accelerator and the brake. There has got to be some balance between this drive to go forward and yet this concern, this cautiousness, which says wait, let's be clear that we are going in the right way. Scouting advocates this balance. There is a tremendous amount of experimentation, but there is always the context, the context of tradition, the context of individuals there who have had more experience and thus can direct and can guide and can teach. And that's so important.
Today, as always, it is important to take these values and to take these basic methods that the Boy Scouts of America use and to apply them.
Scouting has given our children an opportunity to feel useful, an opportunity to feel valued, an opportunity to feel needed. Scouting has presented us with a teaching model, a model of educating for responsibility, a model for encouraging all that is best in our world. If only we had more Scouts and if only we made better use of the Scouting program, I think this world would be a much, much better place in which to live.
A SAMPLE NER TAMID PRESENTATION
GIVEN BY A SCOUTMASTER
As I stand on this pulpit this Sabbath evening, in front of the Holy Ark with the Ner Tamid above, facing the Scouts entrusted to my care, I have a deep sense of well-being and achievement as a Scoutmaster.
This well-being and achievement is reflected in the culmination of the striving for the finest in living as taught by the Scout Law, learned in the Scout Oath, and practiced daily for good citizenship by every member of the troop. This sense of achievement and satisfaction is shared by every troop leader, and it is for this reason and for the love of working with youth that others like myself devote their time to youth leadership.
I feel very humble for the opportunity given me to lead in an organization whose purpose is to provide an ethical foundation on which youth may grow.
The responsibility of leadership is more deeply felt when one faces a youth in this sanctuary and realizes how significant the Scout Law and Scouting have become in one's life, particularly the twelfth point of the Law, which states "A Scout is reverent." It is this reverence for God and one's faith that compels a youth to work so diligently to earn the Ner Tamid emblem, which signifies a year of concentrated religious activity.
What symbol could be more truly the symbol of Scouting and reverence toward God than the Ner Tamid, the eternal light? It is this eternal light that serves as a beacon and a flame to the Scoutmaster. In my heart is the desire to serve youth because training our children is our greatest responsibility, and, I might add, hope for the future.
This Scout joins the group of outstanding Scouts who show great promise for the future. He brings great pride to his rabbi, his parents, his Scoutmaster, and troop committee as he stands ready to accept the Ner Tamid emblem - the Eternal Light of Judaism.
It is an honor to work with young men like (names), and it is with deep thankfulness that I address the parents of boys like (names). For without them and their guidance toward activities for their children, the Ner Tamid program and others of high merit would not have come into being.
Parents have an obligation to their children that is not written in any books, but lies deep in their hearts. it is this heartfelt determination to help make their children the best they can be that has brought about Scouting.
It is a great honor and privilege for me to witness the presentation of the Ner Tamid emblem to (name). I hope that he will always be as alert and watchful as the Ner Tamid and ever be the living example of the teachings of Judaism through Scouting.