Local Suffolk County Council (Scouts, BSA) Jewish Committee on Scouting volunteers Barry Kopeloff (of Port Jefferson Station), Bruce Streger (previously of Farmingville and now residing in Rockledge, Florida), Brian and Ken Spiegel (of Medford), Brian and Ilene Meister (of Lindenhurst, NY), Elliot Klugman (previously of Dix Hills, now residing in Boca Raton, Florida), and Phyllis Stein (of Hauppauge), participated with Scouters from other states in the Northeast from Virginia to New Hampshire. This 35th Annual Northeast Region (NER) Jewish Committee on Scouting (JCOS) Conference, was held on March 19, 2023 at Alpine Scout Camp in Alpine, New Jersey. There were 53 volunteer Scout Leaders and Scout Professionals from 17 different Boy Scout Councils attending the 2023 NER JCOS Conference.
The day-long event started with Jerry Katz blowing of the Shofar (rams horn) followed by a buffet bagel breakfast which celebrated the Jewish Committee’s participation in the Boy Scouts of America, a relationship that started in 1926. The theme “Renewed Fellowship” included presentations that covered the history of Jewish Scouting in New York City and its continued strong roots in the 1930’s and 1940’s as well as seven interactive discussions and “classes”. Other interesting presentations covered the history of the Jewish Religious Awards; a hands-on opportunity to “make you own matzah”; Jewish Scouting Memorabilia; a display of Ten Mile River Scout Camp (from upstate New York, where Kosher week-long scout summer camps existed); a discussion of future National Jewish Committee’s Trek in the mountains at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and this year’s treks at the Florida Sea Base along with additional interesting topics.
Special guest, Ms Saroya Friedman-Gonzales, CEO and President of the Greater New York Councils welcomed the scouting volunteers to Alpine Scout Camp and spent most of the day as an active participant in the conference.
The conference was a joyous event, filled with learning for participants, and much sharing of recent experiences from the Scout leaders who attended. The “midway” had displays and Scouting memorabilia items. Each participant received a special commemorative event patch and Temple Key Bottle Opener. A flash drive with great Scouting resources and information for participants to take back to their local JCOS and local Scout Councils was also available. The President of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, Frank Youdelman, joined the conference via Zoom, spoke on the future of the JCOS and answered questions from participants.
National JCOS Chaplain, Rabbi Art Vernon of (Nassau County in West Hempstead) provided attendees with the invocation, D’var Torah, and prayers before the Kosher lunch.
The newest Jewish Scout Religious Emblem for Lion Cub Scouts (for kindergarten and first grade) is the Aryeh Emblem (Hebrew meaning Lion) was announced. This emblem will become the JCOS’ 5th Emblem and will be available starting this summer.
Presentations and recognitions were made, including the Bronze, Gold, and Silver Chai Awards to local JCOS Scouters, who had been nominated for their dedication to the Jewish Scouting community by their peers.
Bruce Streger, Chairperson emeritus, and National JCOS Chaplain, Rabbi Art Vernon presented, outgoing NER JCOS Chair, Phil Sternberg of the National Capitol Area Council, a Special Achievement Award for Service to the Jewish Scouting – the Diamond Chai Award”. Mr. Sternberg is only the 4th person to have been recognized with this honor in the history of the NER JCOS annual conferences (Gerald Geiger, Rabbi Art Vernon and Bruce Streger are the three previous recipients). Outgoing Chair Phil Sternberg was also honored with being named “Chairperson Emeritus” of the North East Region. Incoming Chair of the NE Region JCOS was presented with a small light and an unfinished wooden Chai. May his light shine bright in the future of the NE Region JCOS and his work is not finished as he begins his journey.
It was a great event and everyone was glad to be there in person. The 2024 NER JCOS Conference is planned for mid April 2024 because Passover is later next year, starting on April 22, 2024
For more information on joining the JCOS of Suffolk County, Jewish Religious Emblems and workshops, Scout Sabbath Services, Jewish campouts, and more, please contact JCOS Chair Barry Kopeloff at (631) 331-9460.