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Reverence and integration: boy scouts, Jewish camping and American orthodoxy.

"Young Israelites" at a Camporee

In 1947, Harold Jacobs (1912-1995) was president of the Young Israel of Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Among the activities sponsored by this then thriving Modern Orthodox synagogue was the "Shomer Shabbaf' (Sabbath observant) Boy Scout Troop 404, whose ranks included two of Jacobs' sons. Jacobs, who in subsequent years was to become a national lay leader of American Orthodoxy, accompanied the group on a weekend "camporee." (2) In his portrayal of the event, he first describes an "Orthodox" application of the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared" (3)--making sure that all was in order on Friday afternoon such that the troop members could properly observe the Sabbath laws throughout the evening and following day. He then writes of the public prayer and Sabbath meals that took place and were experienced by the Orthodox participants. But what stands out in the description is that the Young Israel group was not alone. Regarding the "inspiring [morning] service--uniformed Boy Scouts, in their taleisim (prayer shawls), and reading from their siddurim (prayer books)," he notes "even non-Jewish troops and their leaders were awed by the sight." Furthermore, on Sunday, when the Christian groups had their scheduled prayers, "the Camp Master approached me to conduct a Sunday morning service (l'havdil)." (4) Jacobs reports that over seventy additional Scouts who were at the camporee joined Troop 404 for the "makeshift" Jewish service that he orchestrated (5)

Jacobs' depiction of this "mini-camp" captures some of the basic characteristics of Orthodox Boy Scout camping since the 1920s. Boy Scout Camps were not designed as exclusively or officially "Jewish environments" and certainly not "Orthodox" ones. On the contrary, they were by definition nonsectarian frameworks that integrated Jewish and non-Jewish troops and were generally directed by non-Jews or non-Orthodox Jews. (6) With advanced planning and cooperation from the camp authorities, the Orthodox troop leaders were able to construct a setting that would enable their Scouts to conduct public prayer, maintain their religious dietary restrictions, observe the Sabbath, and even work towards earning special Jewish emblems. (7) The visibility of the Orthodox contingents also attracted Jewish Scouts from other troops to their rituals. Yet as far as the Scouting activities and programming that took place during camp were concerned, the Orthodox Scouts were under the authority of the camp leadership and were fully incorporated into the program with the rest of their fellow Scouts.

The Orthodox Boy Scout experience, as such, differed profoundly from the predominant model of the Jewish and especially the Orthodox summer camp that was emerging during just the same period that Jacobs attended a weekend camporee. The current article, then, aims to outline and contextualize a strand in Jewish organized camping that to date has eluded academic scholarship. In parallel, the evolution of Jewish Boy Scout camping offers a lens through which to perceive a number of key themes in the history of American Orthodoxy.

The following examines these questions: How does the Orthodox Boy Scout Camp experience compare with other forms of Jewish Camping, especially denominationally-affiliated ones? How has Orthodox Boy Scout Camp changed over time? What novel perspectives does this example offer in regard to broader changes in American Orthodoxy? The discussion is based on archival records, journalistic articles, secondary studies, and written exchanges and personal interviews with Jewish Scouts, leaders, rabbis-some who were active as far back as the i940S-and others who are still intensively involved. It is not intended to be comprehensive, but seeks to offer insight into the main contours of the distinctive Orthodox Jewish camping model that evolved in Boy Scout Camp.


Founded in 1910, the main constituency of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was and continues to comprise boys between the ages of eleven and eighteen. In 1930, Cub Scouts were created for boys ages seven to eleven. (8) Volunteer adult leaders, typically former Scouts and parents of Scouts, provide supervision and mentorship.

From its earliest stage, the BSA was predicated on principles outlined by the British founder of the Boy Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), in his 1908 volume Scouting for Boys. (9) However, the American movement's "Scout Law" contained three additional laws not instituted by its predecessor, most prominently "A Scout is Reverent," which refers specifically to one's veneration and respect for God. Thus, the BSA Charter and Bylaws continues to contain the "Declaration of Religious Principle," that states, "The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members." (10)

This "Reverent" but non-sectarian character has not only remained inscribed in the contemporary BSA Charter and Bylaws, but religious institutions of every persuasion are the choice organizations for sponsorship of local Scout troops. (11) Together with the more veteran Christian churches of European origin, one of the staunchest supporters of BSA from its first decade onwards was the Mormon Church of the Latter Day Saints. (12) Besides all types of Christian denominations and sects, special BSA religious awards exist today for Bahai, Buddist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Meher Baba, Sikh, and Zoroastrian Scouts. (13) A specific church may allow Scouts who are not members of its faith community to join and must guarantee that in such cases there will be no discrimination. Yet a church may also choose to create an exclusive chapter of its own believers. (14)

Jews and Judaism presented challenges for Scouting, since along with providing prayer space, observant Jewish Scouts needed kosher food and had limitations on the types of camping activities in which they could participate on the Sabbath. These complications remain a thorny topic, not only from a technical point of view in terms of interfacing with existing camp staff and programing, but also due to the variety of opinions among Jewish Scouting leaders as to the religious requirements of Orthodox Scouts.

Jewish Boy Scouts

BSA's first Jewish troop was established at the 92nd Street Y on New York's Upper East Side in 1913. In 1926 the National Jewish Committee on Scouting (NJCoS) was created. (15) Its first chairman was the national leader and Jewish scholar, Dr. Cyrus Adler (1863-1940), the reigning Chancellor of New York's Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and concurrently President of Philadelphia's Dropsie College. In the 1930s, a New York-area Jewish Committee on Scouting was founded, as well as local committees for each of the five boroughs of New York City. During its early decades, to a great degree Scouting was viewed as a vehicle for facilitating the Americanization of the offspring of Jewish immigrants. (16)

In 1946 the Ner Tamid Award was officially dedicated by the NJCoS. (17) Equal parts religious knowledge and practice, and Jewish and American Jewish history, the challenging award attracted Scouts from varied Jewish backgrounds. At the highpoint of Jewish Scouting in 1957-and for that matter national BSA membership in general-there were 1,367 BSA units that were chartered to Jewish religious and communal organizations (18) and an estimated 100,000 Jewish Scouts overall. (19) Throughout the 1970s there was a sharp decline in BSA numbers and no less among Jews. (20) According to the NJCoS, as well as to anecdotal evidence, since the late 1980's BSA has experienced a general resurgence, and in parallel Jewish involvement has rebounded somewhat. (21)

Throughout the history of Jewish Scouting, the majority of the national Jewish leadership as well as the local units were affiliated with the Conservative and Reform movements, or with non-denominational communal bodies. (22) That said, as far back as the 1920s, there was always a critical mass of troops sponsored by Orthodox synagogues, as well as Orthodox rabbis that were deeply involved. According to an internal study from 1948, out of 332 American synagogues with BSA units, ninety were Orthodox-affiliated. (23) Four of the especially well-known Orthodox rabbis who were active in BSA were: David de Sola Pool (1885-1970), (24) Emanuel Rackman (1910-2008), (25) Herschel Schacter (1917-2013), (26) and Maurice Lamm (1930-2016). (27) Both the Orthodox Union and the National Council of Young Israel synagogue movement have long expressed their formal support and partnered in various NJCoS publications. (28) Like their non-Orthodox counterparts, members of the Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) dedicated their sermons to Scouting-related Jewish values on the annual "Scout Shabbos." (29)

From the beginning of its existence, and paralleling other mid-twentieth century avenues for Jewish Americanization, the internal discourse of Jewish Scouting's national leadership has been marked by divergent opinions as to the degree to which distinctive Jewishness should be displayed openly, some would say flaunted, and whether being "too Jewish" causes deleterious "separation" from fellow Scouts. (30) Since the decline of Jewish Scouting in the 1970s, and concurrent with America's increasingly multicultural ethos, a new view was advanced that Jewish content actually attracts Jewish Scouts and generally enhances their experiences. (31) All the same, the meticulous requirements of the Orthodox, especially at large collective events like the quadrennial National Scout Jamboree, still often leads to tensions with their liberal counterparts. (32)

American Jewish Camping

Organized summer camps emerged in America during the late nineteenth century and proliferated during the first decades of the twentieth century. The founders presented them as antidotes to the declines in collective social and spiritual conditions associated with mass urbanization. The guiding assumption was that exposure to fresh air and rural, country surroundings would produce healthier and more values-driven young Americans. (33) From the outset there were educators and clergy who highlighted the potential of the camp setting as an instrument for disseminating ideals and strengthening their charges personal commitments. (34)

Numerous summer camps aimed specifically at the Jewish population sprang up in the first decades of the twentieth century. Their primary targets were the offspring of the millions of Eastern European Jews that had been arriving in the United States since the early 1880s and who resided for the most part in inner city neighborhoods. Although the camps often served kosher food and in some cases public prayer and a modicum of Sabbath observance was supported, the focus on outdoor life and character development was almost identical to their non-Jewish parallels. If anything, the central aim of the early Jewish camps was not to reinforce particularistic Jewish qualities, but on the contrary, to facilitate the process of Americanization of the immigrant children. (35)

The second stage in the history of Jewish camping dates to the interwar period when progressive educators reached the conclusion that the integration of Jewish youth into American society was by and large so successful that priorities needed to be redirected toward strengthening their Jewish identities. Some of these camps were affiliated with specific Jewish ideological trends such as Zionism, Hebraism, or Yiddishism, while for others the stated purpose was to nurture future Jewish leaders. Many self-defined as "traditional" and proudly presented their camps as ideal environments in which a wide spectrum of Jews ranging from the strictly observant to the mildly identified could not only co-exist but interface positively. (36)

The 1940s, according to Jonathan Sarna, was "the crucial decade" in the development of American Jewish camping. (37) This third stage featured the rise of denominational camps affiliated with specific American Jewish religious movements. Sports, recreation, and craftsmanship were encouraged, but educational and religious programming stood front and center and found acute expression even in the seemingly secular activities. (38) A new feature of the denominationally affiliated camps was the central role played by rabbis. (39)

A 2004 analysis of American Jewish camping counted 191 "mainstream Jewish camps" serving approximately 80,000 campers. There were camps that identified with each of the major religious denominations and others that were more pluralistic but focused no less on Jewish education, and still others that provided minimal if any exposure to Jewish content besides optional private bar/bat-mitzvah tutoring. Jewish dietary standards also ranged from strictly kosher to "kosher-style" to vegetarian options. (40) The study defined a Jewish camp as one that was owned or operated by Jews and in which at least fifty percent of the campers were Jewish. Among the list, there were thirty-seven Orthodox camps. (41)

Boy Scout Camps with Orthodox contingents function under the auspices of a non-Jewish organization. The vast majority of camp directors are not Jewish, and the portion of Jewish campers can drop far below 50%. Were such frameworks part of the 2004 study, however, they would rank on the upper stratum of Jewish religious practice as well as Jewish programming.

Unlike in most American Jewish camps, Boy Scout Camp attendees are generally connected with a local Scout troop that meets weekly and goes on occasional outings. During the year, troops function as independent units and can frame their religious environments. Scout Camp is a place where Jewish Scouts and leaders may face more conflicts, and must maneuver between the duality of being both "Jewish" and a "Scout."

"Orthodox" Boy Scouting: Definitions

Up until the 1960s, a high percentage of Jews affiliated with Orthodox institutions were, as described by Jeffrey Gurock, "nonobservant Orthodox." (42) The same parents who were not personally punctilious, identified with the Orthodox worldview, maintained a kosher home, and tended to send their children to summer camps in which dietary strictures and adherence to Sabbath restrictions was feasible. As such, during the mid-twentieth century Orthodox-sponsored Scout troops included boys possessing a wide spectrum of family backgrounds-from the meticulous to the lax. These Orthodox troops, like most of their non-Jewish cohorts, would arrive at Scout Camp as a unit and sleep in a designated camp site. Today the majority of American Orthodox synagogue members adhere in practice to the precepts and beliefs of traditional Jewish law (halakhah). This may be the case in some Orthodox-sponsored Boy Scout troops, but not necessarily in all.

Boy Scout Camp and Orthodox Judaism: Three Stages

"A week of camp life is worth six months of theoretical teaching in the meeting room," so preached Scouting founder Robert Baden-Powell. (43) For Orthodox Jewish youth, Boy Scout Camp's experiential learning is not limited to immersing in the wide spectrum of outdoor activities and crafts that are experienced by all. For many observant Jewish kids, it is their initial encounter with a myriad of Jewish legal issues taken for granted at home. No less perplexing, it is often their first direct cooperative and personal meeting with non-Jews. For some, it is also their earliest intensive engagement with other Jews who do not share the same religious background. Over the century of Jewish Scouting, a number of strategies emerged to navigate the challenges that Orthodox Jewish contingents raised at camp for their own participants and no less for the camp staff.

The discussion below focuses on Ten Mile River Scout Camps (TMR), a massive multi-camp site in New York State's Catskill Mountains that opened in 1928 to serve the Boy Scouts of the Greater New York area. Originally, TMR was divided into sub-camps according to the five boroughs of New York City. The sub-camps were further split into individual Scout Camps, centered around a dining hall complex and flag-parade field. (44) At its peak in the mid-1960s, TMR encompassed 14,000 acres of land, maintained eleven distinct camps, and serviced nearly 12,000 "boy weeks" during the course of an eight-week summer. (45) Due to New York City's position as the largest concentration of Jews in the United States, TMR has had the longest and most involved interface with Jewish Scouts of any BSA camp site.

The following rendering divides the Orthodox Boy Scout Camp experience at TMR into three crucial stages (1928-1945; 1946-1985; and 1986-Present) that align roughly with three periods in the recent history of American Orthodoxy.

Stage One: Kosher Kitchens and the Conservative/Orthodox Divide (1928-1945)

Due to the traditionalist practices of a large portion of mid-twentieth century New York Jews, considerable efforts were invested in TMR at the start to provide kosher food and physical spaces for Jewish prayer. The Jewish Scout populations were most heavily concentrated in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Therefore, it was in these camps where kosher facilities were originally established, alongside non-kosher kitchens and adjacent to the mess halls where all the Scouts ate together. At first, temporary semi-outdoor spaces were set aside for public prayer. By the end of the 1940s, more permanent synagogues of different sizes and designs were constructed at each of the borough divisions with the exception of Staten Island's, due to that borough's small Jewish population at the time.

In 1947, Camp Kunatah (Brooklyn camp) dedicated the "Synagogue in the Pines" with seating for 500-600 Jewish Scouts, which functioned until the camp closed in 2007. (46) Young rabbis, rabbinical students and subsequently more established and authoritative figures, were hired to supervise the purchase and preparation of kosher food and to orchestrate mandatory public prayer services on Sabbath as well as on the Tishah B'Av fast day. If there were enough troops who expected their members to participate in daily public prayer, or individuals who volunteered to participate, they also led weekday services. (47) After the Ner Tamid Award was developed in the mid 1940's, camp rabbis assisted those working toward earning it, and like at other Jewish summer camps, tutored some Scouts in their bar mitzvah preparations. (48) Consistent with the BSA principle of "A Scout is Reverent," many Scouts who did not come from Orthodox-oriented homes participated in Jewish public prayers and sometimes preferred the kosher food. (49)

The process that preceded the building of the Kunatah dining hall in 1946 is instructive regarding the evolution of early Orthodox involvement in TMR. During the 1930s and early 1940s, the United Synagogue of America, the organization of congregations led by graduates of New York's Jewish Theological Seminary which was coalescing into the independent Conservative movement, was the most active denominational Jewish force within BSA's Greater New York Council. (50) It provided funding for activities and ritual objects including Torah scrolls, and was deeply involved, along with the Synagogue Council of America, a body that included representatives of the all the denominations, in creating the Ner Tamid award. It also chose most of the rabbinical students and young clergymen who served as camp rabbis. This last role changed in the early 1940s when fundamental problems with the kosher kitchens at TMR were discovered and reported on a regular basis. Jewish troop leaders began to question whether they could responsibly guarantee to their charges that they would be provided kosher meals. (51)

The first attempt at a solution, in 1942, was to change the supervision system by centralizing all issues related to kosher food standards under one rabbi. The person chosen was former United Synagogue President Max Drob (1887-1959), a veteran pulpit rabbi who in addition to JTS qualifications had received private ordination from an Orthodox rabbi. (51) Throughout his career he was one of the leading spokesmen for the traditionalist camp in Conservative Judaism that resisted radical innovations. By appointing an individual with such unimpeachable qualifications, it was assumed that not only would the technical issues be addressed, but the concerns of those who questioned the reliability of the previous overseers would be assuaged. Drob inspected the kosher camps and made recommendations, but was not on site for the summer and kashrut concerns continued. (53)

After additional efforts by prominent Conservative figures were unsuccessful in 1943 and 1944, the next move was to bring in Orthodox rabbis to investigate the camp kitchen facilities and provide remedies. (54) After the failure of their ad-hoc solutions, however, Alfred C. Nichols Jr., the non-Jewish Director of TMR, asserted in a memo following the 1945 camp season that unless a new dining hall was erected with separate kitchens for meat and dairy, it would be too difficult to guarantee that kosher standards would be upheld. The present situation, he noted, caused "unpleasant policing of the kitchen personnel and contentious resultant friction." (55) The proposed dining hall, built in 1946, formed the cornerstone of a new Brooklyn camp, Kunatah, where kosher food regulation was in the hands of the Orthodox, and most Orthodox troops were directed there. (56)

The decision to build Camp Kunatah, which arose from the desire to find a practical solution to the continual kashrut problems, led to two fundamental changes in the Jewish Scouting experience at TMR. On the one hand, the new kashrut arrangement established Orthodox rabbis as the presiding Jewish clergy at TMR. On the other hand, as will be expanded upon below, it also facilitated integration between Scouts keeping kosher and the rest of the camp.

Stage Two: Church-Like Integration (1946-1985)

On May 2, 1939, a meeting took place at which the leaders of Jewish Scouting in New York City raised the issue of "excessive segregation" in the context of the kosher dining facilities. (57) A later chaplains' report commented that "it would be worthwhile to study a plan whereby the values of Kashruth can be preserved ... without undermining the great American idea of having different creeds and even colors, living together in peace and harmony." (58)

Despite these strong reservations, servicing the large numbers of kashrut observant Scouts took precedence over the desire to achieve full integration. Nichols, the TMR Director, planned a second general dining hall at Kunatah in the style of the earlier camps with kosher facilities, but for unknown reasons it was never built. Thus, from 1946 until the late 1980s, Kunatah became an exclusively kosher camp and in subsequent years ran fully-kosher camping for part of each summer. When kosher, all Scouts in Kunatah, regardless of religion or preference, ate kosher food in the single dining hall together. These kosher dining arrangements at Kunatah ushered in a new stage in Orthodox Boy Scout camping. Three elements stand out regarding this stage.

First, once the kashrut issues were resolved, it paved the way for Orthodox troops to come to Boy Scout Camp without concern that they would be compromising on their religious standards. In 1957, Simon Spielman became Scoutmaster of Troop 100 in Far Rockaway (Queens), New York, which was sponsored by the Orthodox Congregation Shaaray Tefila for which Emanuel Rackman served as rabbi. Prior to Spielman's arrival, the troop's connection to the synagogue was limited mainly to meeting on its premises, and the troop set off on overnights from the synagogue parking lot on the Sabbath. With the support of Rackman, Spielman instituted full kashrut and Sabbath observance during troop events, and citing "A Scout is Reverent," required the Jewish Scouts to at least be present and respectful during public prayer on campouts. This caused dissention among veteran families, some of whom were affiliated with the local Reform Temple, and there were a number who pulled their sons from the troop. Nonetheless, the Jewish backgrounds of those who stayed remained relatively heterogeneous, with both public school and Yeshiva Day School students as members. (59) Despite being officially connected to the Queens Council, Troop 100 attended Bronx Camp Nianque because of its kosher facilities. Simon's son Howard Spielman remembers specifically that the camp rabbi was Orthodox and was both responsible for overseeing the kitchen and conducting services. (60) Howard Spielman himself founded and continues to lead Troop 54 currently chartered to the Orthodox Maimonides School in Brookline, MA. Established in 1986, Troop 54 camped at Kunatah each summer from 1986 through 2007. (61) In a 2015 interview, Howard Spielman asserted that there were fifty-two Jewish Scout units chartered to Orthodox institutions. (62)

The second distinguishing factor that emerged after the mid-i940S revamping of the TMR kosher offerings through the construction of Camp Kunatah, was that the worst fears of both Jewish and non-Jewish Scout officials from the 1930s and 1940s regarding Jewish "segregation" did not materialize. Ironically, the existence of a single dining hall that only served kosher food to all Scouts at the camp did not impede integration. On the contrary, to a great degree it reinforced it. Morty Fink, for example, was a member of the non-sectarian Troop 101 from Brooklyn, which included both Jewish and non-Jewish Scouts. He was a camper at Kunatah from 1946 to 1949 and a staff member in the early 1950s. Fink emphasized that although the Kunatah kosher dining hall was planned explicitly to satisfy strict Orthodox kashrut requirements, less exacting Jews as well as non-Jewish Scouts continued to have strong representations in the dining hall, which held up to 400 people. Fink recalled the Jewish chaplain leading the "Friday [night] Grace [before meals] in Hebrew," and that, "The kosher food prepared at the kosher camps was superior to the food at the non-kosher camps. That attracted Scouts of the other faiths in 1940s and 1950s." (63)

Jumping ahead some forty years, in 1992 the Camp Director of Kunatah, Thomas G. Jeffrey, asserted that even with the kosher food, 50% or more of the campers were not Jewish. Among this group was Troop 454, sponsored by the Atonement Lutheran Church in Queens, NY. According to its Assistant Scoutmaster Joe Latraglio, they had been attending Kunatah for at least fifteen years. The Kunatah Nature director was Glenn Silverman, a self-described Reform Jew who was Assistant Scoutmaster of a mixed Jewish and non-Jewish group sponsored by the United Methodist Church of Metuchen, New Jersey. He noted that while none of the Scouts in his troop were Orthodox, some of them kept kosher and considered the Kunatah dining room to be a "plus" but "not the decisive factor in choosing the camp." (64)

The unintentional intensification of integration in TMR that began in 1946 with the opening of Kunatah's kosher dining hall, took place almost exactly in parallel to the point in the history of American Jewish camping that Sarna refers to as "the crucial decade." (65) Just when Jewish religious movements began to sponsor their own camps that focused on a narrower Jewish constituency and highlighted increased ideological and ritual homogeneity, not only did new opportunities arise for Jewish Scouts of different movements to interact, but considerable prospects appeared for an increased engagement with non-Jewish Scouts as well.

The third aspect of Orthodox Boy Scout camping that emerged after the building of Kunatah presents a more complicated picture. During six days of the week, Orthodox units did everything but pray with the rest of the camp. To be sure, the non-Orthodox Scouts were welcome to join them in prayer as well, but religious activity occurred predominantly out of the public view. On the Jewish Sabbath, however, the situation was different. Due to the long summer daylight hours, sundown was much later than the regularly scheduled camp Friday dinner, and it was important to both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Scouts and leaders to bring in the Sabbath in the synagogue with the full Friday evening liturgy. Moreover, for twenty-five hours each week the Orthodox Scouts could not participate in the same camp activities as their cohorts, who often set out on overnight camping trips. Many of the non-Orthodox Scouts in non-Jewish troops did join for at least part of the Sabbath rituals, but eventually returned to a typical Saturday camp schedule that, while less intensive than throughout the week, was still far removed from the Orthodox Sabbath.

This format provided unique educational opportunities for Orthodox Scouts, ones that could not be reproduced in a separate Jewish camp setting. The Orthodox Scouts were able to observe the Sabbath as they wished and many describe the inspiring prayers and singing that they experienced. But it was unlike the total immersion experienced by their Jewish counterparts in the homogeneous denominational camps. The Scouts' Sabbath experience was closer, but not identical, to the weekly procedures of observant parents, who have to withdraw intentionally from their everyday professional and social interfaces, and connect with their families and synagogue communities on the Sabbath. In fact, in certain ways it was more challenging in Scout Camp, where everyone shares the same public spaces and rural environment. Boy Scout Camp, as such, was not only preparing its Scouts for survival in the great outdoors, for many observant Scouts it was actually an early testing ground for striking a balance between their parochial Jewish and American identities.

The dynamic that was created vis-a-vis the rest of the camp, and especially the non-Orthodox Scouts was no less nuanced. In 1965, social scientist Charles Liebman described American Modern Orthodox Judaism as "Church Orthodoxy." On the one hand, by the 1950s the Modern Orthodox stream was adamant about defining clear boundaries between itself and the liberal denominations with regard to theological matters such as Mosaic authorship of the Bible and especially relating to legal matters such as mixed seating in the synagogue or driving on the Sabbath. Yet at the same time, the Modern Orthodox were also intent on taking part in much of what general society offered and maintaining contact with non-observant Jews. Toward these goals they endeavored to create inclusive "church-like" religious environments that provided room for Jews who were not completely adherent to be members of the community, but in which the guidelines and synagogue framework were solely predicated on Orthodox standards. The non-observant were invited to come in with no strings attached, but this was clearly an Orthodox home, so to speak, albeit an open one. (66)

The analogy with the religious environment in Kunatah is intriguing. For the Modern Orthodox, the balance between "Reverence" and integration that was facilitated in Kunatah was consistent with the worldview that was put forward in their synagogues and day schools, but more intensive. Together with the strictly kosher food and the Orthodox-run camp synagogue that made it clear that their standards would be the representative Jewish approach, Kunatah facilitated living in a highly mixed framework in which they were clearly in the minority.

The reflections of Morty Fink, illustrate the inherent tensions in this "church-like" dynamic from the perspective of a non-Orthodox Jewish Scout. He and his non-Orthodox friends usually attended the official Sabbath prayers at the "Synagogue in the Pines." His especially fond memories, however, were of the times when they split off from the Orthodox services, and conducted prayers in a way that was closer to their Jewish sentiments: "We occasionally went to the Indian Cliffs at sunset on Fridays ... We ran our own service which was greatly influenced by the surroundings and the setting sun." (67)

As seen above, from the perspective of the TMR leadership the solutions to the kashrut issues were simply practical decisions aimed at eliminating impediments to participation so that the widest range of Jewish Scouts could attend camp. The result, nonetheless, was that unlike American Jewish neighborhoods where each religious institution affiliated with a particular movement had control over their internal religious surroundings, in Scout Camp all the Jews regardless of their personal piety had to find common ground. This "unity," however, came with an internal religious hierarchy in which all the Jewish Scouts at Kunatah were members of the collective but Orthodoxy set the religious tone. (68) To be sure, the types of Orthodox rabbis and leaders who were active in BSA were those who saw value in developing relationships with their fellow Jews and non-Jews, relationships predicated on mutual respect and common interests. (69) That said, it is striking that in a time of pronounced interdenominational competition and strife, the heterogeneous TMR Boy Scout Camp setting at Kunatah enabled a certain primacy to the Orthodox. (70)

Stage Three: Orthodox Camp Leadership, Outreach, and Realignment (1986-Present)

Starting in 1986, Orthodox Scouts from other parts of the United States and Canada began to attend Camp Kunatah, where they joined the incumbent troops from New York and New Jersey. The overwhelming majority of the camp was not Jewish, but the entire population ate kosher food. Over the next twenty-one years, hundreds of Jewish Scouts traveled to Kunatah in order to benefit from its unique combination of kosher food and religious infrastructure with a full Scout Camp program. Over time, the Orthodox presence at Kunatah increased to the point where the Shabbat dinner after services was better attended than the official camp dinner.

Orthodox ascendancy at TMR reached its apex in the first decade of the twenty-first century when Avraham Witty served for three years as Kunatah Camp Director, followed by two years of directorship by Chanina Szendro. While Witty represented the classic example of a Modern Orthodox rabbi, Szendro's personal background was more closely connected to Haredi Orthodoxy. (71)

A Yeshiva University-trained Orthodox rabbi and educator based in Toronto, Canada, Witty's involvement with Scouting began when he responded to an ad in The Jewish Week and was hired as the Kunatah camp rabbi, a position he held for two summers. In his subsequent role as Camp Director during the summer of 2003 and 2004, he oversaw the entire Kunatah complex, staff and program during the week, but on Saturdays he refrained from formal labor and depended on his non-Jewish assistant. (72)

In a written correspondence, Witty highlighted the overall willingness of the TMR non-Jewish staff to accommodate Orthodox requests. When various religio-legal issues arose that he considered beyond his expertise, he turned for guidance to Rabbi Gedaliah Schwartz, the Chief of the RCA Beit Din (religious court). For Witty, the most rewarding camp interactions were the kiruv (religious outreach) opportunities: "There were individuals who were not in any way observant outside of Scout Camp. But because 'a Scout is Reverent' they would 'find' religion at camp. It was beautiful to see them get involved." (73)

Witty and the Modern Orthodox Scout leaders were not the only Orthodox figures to recognize the outreach potential of Scouting. In 1990, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which has concentrated its efforts since the mid-twentieth century on strengthening the Jewish connections of contemporary Jews, (74) published a manual entitled Shlichus: Meeting the Outreach Challenge that describes its involvement with Scouting as "a very exciting new project." The handbook advises that, "By consulting the National Jewish Committee [NJCoS] you can determine if it is possible to supply chaplains to the local Boy Scout Camp ... If the camp has a lot of Jewish boys, it might be appropriate to have a bochur [non-married older yeshiva student] come as a chaplain." (75) In 1992, Brooklyn's Orthodox Troop 611 met the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994). During his brief encounter with the group, he expressed his hope that "The Almighty bless them to be Scouts for Yiddishkayt (Judaism)." (76)

One of the Chabad figures who was most involved with BSA is Michael Albukerk, a longtime leader in Chabad's youth movement Tzivos Hashem. Albukerk grew up non-observant and was a member of a troop sponsored by a local Methodist church. He attended Scout Camp throughout his teen years achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and was an Assistant Scoutmaster during college. After his personal religious transformation and affiliation with Chabad, he served on advisory committees to NJCoS and promoted involvement with Scouting in Chabad circles. Albukerk eventually was responsible for selecting and training Chabad chaplains for Boy Scout Camps and National and World Jamborees. (77)

The basis for Chabad engagement with BSA, beginning in 1987 according to Albukerk, was its perception that "Scouting seemed committed to making a 'mensch' of a boy, complete with the commitment to be 'Reverent to G-d', maintaining a protocol for limiting interaction between the sexes, and providing a religiously 'safe' environment for Jewish boys." These characteristics paved the way for a strong connection, "I don't know of any institution other than Chabad (through Tzivos Hashem) [that] has had as close and cooperative relationship as it did with the BSA. We allowed the BSA to train our chaplains, used many Scouting methods in our Tzivos Hashem clubs, and even had a Scout unit in Crown Heights. (78) Chabad Houses used Scout Camps for their Gan Israel summer camp programs. Over the years, dozens of Chabad institutions chartered Scout units for their youth programs for teens." (79) All of Chabad's BSA activities including staffing Boy Scout Camps came to a close, however, in 2013 when after a long public and legal struggle BSA voted to change its longstanding official policy and welcomed Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation. (80)

Consistent with the movement's overall aims, almost all of the Scouting activities described by Albukerk involved Chabad staffing and providing services for events attended by non-Chabad Jewish Scouts. (81) To be sure, the chaplains and bochurs wore Boy Scouts uniforms and worked in coordination with the Scouting program, (82) but seldom did a boy who grew up in an observant Chabad home become a Scout or attend Boy Scout Camp--the Crown Heights troop that existed in the late 1980s and 1990s appears to have been a highly unusual exception. (83) As such, Chabad involvement with Scouting resisted the predominant model of integration.

While Chabad's Scouting activities were primarily as a provider of religious content, there was another Orthodox group not identified with Modern Orthodoxy that made a brief but intensive appearance in Kunatah during the first decade of the twenty-first century. In the 1970s, BSA began to experience dramatic drops in participants including declines in the numbers of Jewish troops. Boy Scout Camps throughout the United States set out to develop specialized programs that would attract new populations. These efforts continued into the twenty-first century. For TMR this meant, among other ideas, authorizing a program called "Kesher Scouting," which would take advantage of Kunatah's well-polished kosher eating facilities and large synagogue. Its nascence and evolution illustrates a unique model in Orthodox attendance at Scout Camp, in which Haredi youth become active in Scouting. Here too, events at TMR paralleled broader developments within American Orthodoxy.

Growing up in the Boston area, Chanina Szendro joined Howard Spielman's Troop 54 during elementary school. After enrolling in the Ner Israel high school in Baltimore, (84) he was no longer active with Troop 54 during the year. Nonetheless, he continued to attend Kunatah with Troop 54 for a few summers as a Scout, and after he turned 18, as a leader. (85)

By 2001, Szendro was a full-time yeshiva student at Ner Israel. Together with Howard Spielman, he authored a proposal for a Scout camping initiative geared specifically to boys from Haredi Orthodox homes entitled "Kesher Scouting." According to their model, the Kesher Scouts would learn Torah for a period of time in the morning, and then participate in camp Scouting activities like any other Scout. The all-boys Scouting framework was consistent with the Haredi ethos regarding proper social environments, and Scouting had a track record of supporting religion. The rustic setting and the Scout Camp structure and program presented opportunities for personal development that were not typically available in the Haredi Yeshiva environments the boys inhabited during the year, nor at the established Haredi camps. (86)

The plan was approved by Haredi rabbinical authorities and endorsed by the NJCoS and TMR. The NJCoS recognized the potential for increasing the numbers of Jewish Scouts from an untapped population, while TMR sought to shore up slipping camp attendance. The original Kesher group was made up of nine leaders trained by Spielman and Szendro, and eighteen Scouts who spent two weeks in Kunatah. It was an immediate success and quickly grew to a four-week program that, over the years, was attended by hundreds of Haredi Orthodox boys, predominantly from Baltimore and New York. (87)

Initially, like the Modern Orthodox troops, Kesher campers conducted their Scouting activities with the rest of the camp. Coexistence with both non-Orthodox and to some degree Modern Orthodox Jewish groups within the same camp was not devoid of friction. Nonetheless, Kesher remained committed to the integrated format. After a few years, however, with general camp enrollment continuing to decline and Kesher growing, TMR made the decision to turn the entire Camp Kunatah over to Kesher for the last four weeks of the summer. Szendro was named the Camp Director for the full summer, including the first four weeks of general enrollment camp. This arrangement lasted for two years. In 2007, Kunatah met the fate of other longstanding Scout Camps over the years when the Greater New York Councils and TMR closed it down after 60 years of continual operation. Declining TMR enrollment overall, infrastructure costs, and the need to consolidate operations for cost savings were major factors. (88) Szendro continued to run the Kesher Scouting program on a smaller scale for a few additional years on the grounds of the Haredi all-boys camp Mogen Avraham, and for another few summers in two other camp sites. (89)

Up until the end of the twentieth century, Boy Scout Camp would have been an unthinkable option for American Haredi Orthodox Jews. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the American Haredi community represented a potpourri of dislocated fervently Orthodox Jews centered in Brooklyn, New York, with small representations in other parts of the country, whose future seemed imperiled. Their leaders saw American society and mores as dangerous to the spiritual lives and religious standards of their followers. In order to maintain their lifestyle and culture, they adopted a sectarian stance that discouraged contact with American popular and secular culture, non-Jews, non-Orthodox Jews, and even Modern Orthodox Jews. By the end of the twentieth century, this formula produced strong results. Haredi Orthodoxy gained in numbers, wealth, geographical spread, and political influence. It boasted robust educational institutions that generated thousands of rabbis and female educators. In an about face, not only Chabad, but a growing cadre of Haredi activists, were encouraged to engage the non-Orthodox and non-affiliated populations with the intention of strengthening their connections to Judaism. As Haredi Orthodoxy became more triumphant and self-assured, it also became more emboldened, outgoing and diverse. (90)

Kesher Scouting's emergence and success, then, can be attributed to a number of issues: the fact that Chanina Szendro, a product of a Haredi yeshiva, modeled the positive effects of the Scouting program, the long history of Modern Orthodox Scout Camp attendance, the ongoing commitment of BSA to the "Reverence" principle, the willingness of TMR to make adjustments to facilitate the needs of the Haredi constituency, and overall changes in Haredi attitudes toward engagement with broader American Jewry and American society, to the point that Boy Scout Camp could be viewed as a valuable life experience for Haredi youth.

After five years of operation integrated within an active, general population Scout Camp, TMR's logistical decision led to Kesher's transition to the exclusive Orthodox use of Camp Kunatah for the last four weeks of the summer. This format continued in the subsequent locations although Kesher always orchestrated a full Scout program. (91) Regardless, then, of the circumstances that led to this change, the practical result was that the integration element, which had long characterized Jewish and Orthodox Scouting, was no longer part of the Kesher Scouting framework.

The Chabad movement, with its long history of intense involvement with the broadest spectrum of Jews, easily engaged with the general camp social culture as providers of religious content but was reticent about involving its own children in the Scouting program. Kesher Scouting, by contrast, demonstrated that other Haredi communities were open to the ideas and ideals of Scouting, exhibiting perhaps a surprising commitment to a Scouting program, even within an exclusively Haredi camp environment. From the perspective of American Jewish camping, then, Kesher Scouting eventually evolved into a hybrid framework. It ran an independent Scout camp that continued to promote Scouting ideals as fully in concert with fervent Jewish religiosity. Socially speaking, however, it was similar to the denominationally-sponsored camps built around a sealed and relatively homogeneous religious population.


In the summer of 2010 the "Ramah Outdoor Adventure" was inaugurated in Colorado as the newest member of the Conservative movement's Ramah camps. (92) Its founding director was Eliav Bock, a Conservative rabbi who grew up active in Boston's Orthodox Troop 54, including attending Camp Kunatah for several summers. Subsequently, he served on the staff of various Ramah camps for eleven years, five as "outdoor adventure leader" at Camp Ramah, Canada.

Bock explained what led him to create what is known popularly as "Ramah in the Rockies." "I loved my Boy Scout Camp (Camp Kunatah in upstate NY), and learned a ton about being in the outdoors and being a leader. Even though the boy scouts [sic] are a mission based organization, and my camp was kosher (though not Jewish), I never felt an overwhelming connection to the other kids in my troop or to the camp as a whole." (93) Bock then compared this experience with his time as a teen staffer at Camp Ramah: "Our relationships were not only based on our love of the outdoors but also in our desire to explore our Jewish identity in a deeper way and to spend two months in the bubble known as 'Jewish summer camp.'" (94) Other Orthodox Kunatah alumni would quibble with the assertion that relationships based on exploring Jewish identity were not formed in Kunatah. At least from Bock's perspective, however, the answer was to create a homogeneous, total-Jewish setting that adopted aspects of the Scouting experience, but focused more directly on inspiring a common Jewish worldview and connecting to friends with similar backgrounds.

Unlike the many denominationally-identified summer programs that are closer to Bock's educational and social vision, Jewish Scouting developed on a different premise; a combination of "Reverence" and nonsectarianism at the core of the BSA worldview underpinned the intention that the facilities and staff would sustain the religious requirements of all types of campers, and would enable American Jewish Scouts to fully participate. Boy Scout Camp idealized integration with American society, while at the same time providing opportunities for cultural and religious differentiation including Jewish observance, growth, and inspiration.

While never the most popular Orthodox Jewish camping option, a committed group of Orthodox Scouts and leaders continues to promote Scouting and Boy Scout Camp as ideal frameworks for exposing youth to formative personal and religious experiences. Orthodox involvement in Scouting, then, should be recognized for the unique position it occupies among the myriad of frameworks advanced by Orthodox Jews during the twentieth century, that weave particularistic religious commitment with integration into broader society.

(1.) Jeffrey S. Gurock, Judaism's Encounter With American Sports (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 189. Adam Ferziger: My first introduction to Jeffrey S. Gurock was not at an academic conference, nor in a library or lecture hall, but on a basketball court. It was the fall of 1976, the same year he began his illustrious Yeshiva University academic tenure. Gurock was no less devoted to his job as coach of SAR Academy's basketball team. The following, inspired by "Coach's" pioneering scholarly efforts to utilize sports as a vehicle for exploring the history of Orthodox Jewry in America, introduces an additional framework that highlights physical activity, in order to shed further light on the evolution and ongoing tensions of this sector. This research project arose from a discussion between Hillel Spielman who like others in his family was active in Scouting since childhood and achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout-with Adam Ferziger, after a public lecture by the latter on the history of American Orthodoxy. The authors would like to thank the following people for their considerable assistance in gathering information for this study: Michael Albukerk, George Berman, Zev Eleff, Morty Fink, David Malatzky, Howard Spielman, Chanina Szendro, and Avraham Witty.

(2.) A camporee is a short-term Boy Scout camping outing for multiple troops under the auspices of a local Boy Scout Council or region, usually over a weekend. See Camporee Guide (Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America, 2009), Outdoor% 20Program/pdf/43 0-001.pdf.

(3.) Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction in Good Citizenship (London: Arthur Pearson LTD., 1908), 271-280.

(4.) The Hebrew word l'havdil, which means literally "to distinguish," appears here in its colloquial usage as making clear that despite a modicum of similarity between two subjects, there remains an abyss that separates them. See Sol Steinetz, Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005),

(5.) "President Harold M. Jacobs Spends a Camporee Weekend with the Boy Scouts," The Young Israelite, June 1947, 8. See the discussion in Rafael Medoff, Building Orthodox Judaism in America: The Life and Legacy of Harold M. Jacobs (Toronto: CreateSpace, 2015), 37-38. We thank Zev Eleff for pointing us to this source. The Hebrew/Jewish colloquial terms were not italicized in the original.

(6.) All troops (units of boys and leaders) in Scout Camp provide their own volunteer adult leadership. Paid staff are responsible for overall camp operation and activity areas. Troops live in their own semi-private campsites; camp activities are integrated.

(7.) See

(8.) The Girl Scouts of the United States of America began in 1912, and was also influenced by the British founder of organized Scouting Robert Baden-Powell. It is as an independent organization. See Tammy M. Proctor, Scouting for Girls: A Century of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2009), 1-125. On Jewish Girl Scouts, see Tal Trachtman Alroy, "The Jewish History Behind the Girl Scouts," Tablet Magazine, March 30, 2015, religion/189879/ girl-scouts-jewish-history.

(9.) See note 3 for bibliographical details.

(10.) "Article IX, Section 1, Clause 1," Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America (Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America, 2015), 20, bsa_charter_and_bylaws.pdf.

(11.) See Phillip R. Kunz, "Sponsorship and Organizational Stability: Boy Scout Troops," American Journal of Sociology 74, no. 6 (May 1969): 666-675.

(12.) Saul Scheidlinger, "A Comparative Study of the Boy Scout Movement in Different National and Social Groups," American Sociological Review 13, no. 6 (December 1948): 742.

(13.) See Duty to God (Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America, No Date), http://www. For those of the over 50,000 participants in the 2013 National Scout Jamboree who requested, Kosher and Halal food was available. In July-August 2016, the first National Muslim Boy Scout Jamboree took place in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains. See nationalmuslim-boy-scout-jamboree/64347.

(14.) Article IX, Section 1, Clause 3," Charter and Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America.

(15.) Among the earliest documents produced by the NJCoS to explain Scouting to Jews is What is a Boy Scout? published in 193 i in both English and Yiddish. See http://www. jewishsc0uting.0rg/bl0g/wp-c0ntent/upl0ads/z014/04/What-is-a-B0y-Sc0ut- c1930s.pdf.

(16.) Arnold M. Sleutelberg, "A Critical History of Organized Jewish Involvement in the Boy Scouts of America, 19z6-1987: Based on Unpublished Archival Materials" (Rabbinic thesis, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York, 1988) 96- 97.

(17.) See the current description and requirements,

(18.) Annual Report of the Boy Scouts of America, r 93-7, Boy Scouts of America Archive [BSAA] (Irving, Texas), 134-36, cited in Sleutelberg, "A Critical History," 93.

(19.) The figure of too,000 Scouts is noted twice in Sleutelberg, "A Critical History." On page 88, the author cites "Minutes from the Annual Meeting of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting," May 20, 1955, (BSAA) as the source, while on page 113, the source cited is Ner Tamid News Bulletin, 1965 (BSAA). Notably, a good portion of the Jewish Scouts did not affiliate through Jewish auspices. In 1938, for example, of the 4,900 Scouts in Bronx, New York, 2,000 of them were Jewish but only half of the Jewish Scouts were connected to a Jewish unit. "Meeting Minutes - Jewish Council of Scouting of Greater New York [JCoS], December 13, 1938," z, Frank L. Weil Papers, American Jewish Archives [AJA/FLW] (Cincinnati, Ohio).

(20.) Boy Scouts of America 1981 Annual Report (BSAA), cited in Sleutelberg, "A Critical History," z.


(22.) Frank Weil, who served as NJCoS chairman from 1935-1957, was also elected the chair of the Board of Governors of the Reform-affiliated Hebrew Union College. On Orthodoxy's minimal influence on the national "public sphere" and acceptance of the dictates of the "Jewish establishment," at least until 1967, see Lawrence Grossman, "Mainstream Orthodoxy and the American Public Square," in Jewish Polity and American Civil Society, eds. Alan Mittleman, Jonathan D. Sarna, and Robert Licht (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 283-307.

(23.) "Minutes of the Annual Meeting, National Jewish Committee on Scouting, June 1, 1948, (BSAA), cited in Sleutelberg, "A Critical History," 80, reprinted on 187, Appendix T.

(24.) See Marc D. Angel, ed., Rabbi David de Sola Pool--Selections from Six Decades of Sermons, Addresses, and Writings (New York: Union of Sephardic Congregations, 1980).

(25.) See Charles S. Liebman, "Emanuel Rackman and Modern Orthodoxy: Some Personal Recollections," Studies in Halakha and Jewish Thought: Presented to Rabbi Prof. Menachem Emanuel Rackman on his 80th Anniversary, ed. Moshe Beer (RamatGan: Bar-Ilan University Press. 1994), 23-31.

(26.) See Louis Bernstein, Challenge and Mission: The Emergence of the English Speaking Orthodox Rabbinate (New York: Shengold Publishers, 1982), 19, 69, 113, 163, T68- 179, 216, 222, 244, 246, 253, 262. Schacter's impact on Jewish Boy Scouts is celebrated in, Karl Bernstein, "A Scout is Reverent," Smoke Signals--Journal of the Ten Mile River Scouts Museum 6, no 1 (Summer 2013): 10.

(27.) See Marcy Oster, "Rabbi Maurice Lamm, Author and Brother of Ex-YU Chief, dies at 86," Forward, June 30, 2016, http://f0rward.c0m/news/breaking- news/344040/ rabbi-maurice-lamm-author-and-brother-of-ex-yu-chief-dies-at-86/. See the preface to the first edition of Maurice Lamm, The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 1969), which is dated July 1969, Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camp.

(28.) See for example, Scouting and the Jewish Boy (New York: The Jewish Committee on Scouting/Boy Scouts of America, 1935), 3. wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Scouting Jewish_BS_1926.pdf.

(29.) See for example Louis M. Tuchman, "Boy Scout Shabbos,"in The Rabbinical Council Manual of Sabbath and Holiday Sermons, ed. Victor Solomon. (New York: Rabbinical Council Press, 1961), 201-202. Several of the Scouts and leaders interviewed for this article recalled attending the annual Scout Shabbos at regular Synagogue services in full Scout uniform, with other local Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

(30.) See, for example, "Meeting Minutes: Special Committee of the JCoS for Greater New York," May 2, 1939 AJA/FLW. See Norman Kleeblatt, ed., Too Jewish? Challenging Traditional Identities (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996).

(31.) Sleutelberg, "A Critical History," 2-3. For a contemporary reflection by the National Chaplain of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting that focuses on newly- ordained non-Orthodox rabbis with rich Scouting backgrounds, see Joseph Prouser, "Real Troopers: Boy Scouts Find Judaism in the Wild," Forward (April 27, 2017), real-troopers-boy-scouts-find-judaism-in-the-wild/?attribution=home -top-story-5-headline&attribution=home-top-story-5-headline&attribution=home- topstory-5-headline.

(32.) Avraham Witty, Written Responses to Questions about Orthodox Scouting, email message to the authors, May 16, 2016 [henceforth Witty Correspondence].

(33.) See Jackson Lears, No Place of Grace: Antimodernism and the Transformation of American Culture, 1880-1920 (New York: Pantheon, 1981).

(34.) On the history of American camping, see for example, Eleanor Ells, Eleanor Ells' History of Organized Camping: The First 100 Years (Martinsville, IN: American Camping Association, 1986).

(35.) Gary P. Zola, "Jewish Camping and Its Relationship to the Organized Camping Movement in America," in A Place of Our Own: The Rise of Reform Jewish Camping, eds. Michael M. Lorge and Gary P. Zola (Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 2006), 17-18.

(36.) See Massad Reminiscences (Jerusalem: Abraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry, 1996), 44.

(37.) Jonathan D. Sarna, "The Crucial Decade in Jewish Camping," in A Place of Our Oum, 27-51.

(38.) Shuly Rubin Schwartz, "Ramah: The Early Years, 1947-52," Conservative Judaism 40 (Fall 1989): 17-20.

(39.) Sarna, "The Crucial Decade in Jewish Camping," 36-38.

(40.) For a satirical portrayal of the kosher-style camp kitchen, see Stephen Marche, "A Memoir of Jewish Camp from Someone Who Never Attended," Tablet, July 13, 2016, http://www.tabletmag.c0m/jewish-arts-and-culture/207384/mem0ir-0f-jewish-camp.

(41.) Amy L. Sales and Leonard Saxe, 'How Goodly are Thy Tents': Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences (Hanover and London: Brandeis University Press in association with the Avi Chai Foundation/University Press of New England: 2004), 24-41. Due either to limited access or lack of cooperation on the part of the organizers, UltraOrthodox affiliated camps were not included in the study. The authors estimated that if they were added it would bring the total number of annual participants in American Jewish summer camps at the beginning of the twenty-first century to over 100,000.

(42.) Jeffrey S. Gurock, "Twentieth-Century American Orthodoxy's Era of Non- Observance (1900-1960)," Torah U-Madda Journal 9 (2000): 87-107; Idem., Orthodox Jews in America (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2009), 208- 209; Liebman, "Orthodoxy in American Jewish Life," 34-36. Zev Eleff, Modern Orthodox Judaism: A Documentary History (Lincoln and Philadelphia: University of Nebraska Press/JPS, 20x6), 348, notes an "earlier" use of this term by Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein.

(43.) Robert Baden-Powell, Aids to Scoutmastership (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1919), 35.

(44.) For a detailed description of the development of the TMR camps up until 1969, see

(45.) Ibid. Statistics for attendance are kept based on the number of Scouts per week. If a camper stays for four weeks, they are counted four times. At its peak, on average, there were 1,500 Scouts per week spread throughout the camps at TMR.

(46.) Bernstein, "A Scout is Reverent." Some refer to it as "The Synagogue in the Woods."

(47.) Contrast with the description of contemporary American Jewish camps that appears in Soles and Saxe, 'How Goodly are Thy Tents', 48, 90.

(48.) A Manual for Jewish Chaplains at the Ten Mile River Scout Camps (New York: Metropolitan Jewish Advisory Committee on Scouting, No Date [mid-i940s]), 6

(49.) On the complexities of kosher eating among Eastern European Jewish immigrants and their children, see Hasia Diner, Hungering for America: Italian, Irish, and Jewish Foodways in an Age of Immigration (Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 178-219.

(50.) The United Synagogue of America was founded in 1913, but only changed its name officially to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) in 1991. That said, by the 1930s, Conservative Judaism was increasingly seen as an independent movement. On the transition from "School to Movement," see, for example, Neil Gilman, Conservative Judaism: The New Century (New York: Behrman House, 1993), 32-48.

(51.) See Herman Alofshin, "Meeting Minutes JCoS of Greater NY, June 12, 1939," 2-3, AJA/FLW; Samson A. Shain, "Report of the Senior Jewish Chaplain 1941," AJA/FLW.

(52.) For Drob's appointment: Edward Schifreen, "Meeting Minutes Metropolitan JCoS, March 25, 1942," 3, AJA/FLW. On Drob, see Max Drob, "A Reaffirmation of Traditional Judaism," Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America 3 (1929): 44-46 [reprinted in Eleff, Modern Orthodox Judaism, 134- 36]; Sanford L. Drob, "Max Drob and Traditional Judaism," Conservative Judaism 39, no. 3 (spring 1987): 34-44; Abraham J. Karp, "A Century of Conservative Judaism," American Jewish Year Book 86 (1986): 35-36.

(53.) Max Drob, "Letter to William Rosenblum," June 17, 1942, AJA/FLW; Edward Schifreen, "Letter to Frank Weil," July 12, 1942, AJA/FLW; Jonah J. Goldstein "Letter to Alfred C. Nichols, Jr.," August 5, 1942, AJA/FLW.

(54.) During 1943-t944 Conservative Rabbi Joseph Sarachek, who had just completed a term as President of the NY Board of Rabbis, was appointed as kashrut authority and senior rabbi of TMR. At the end of 1944 season, he reported that the same pots and utensils were used for both meat and milk in Brooklyn Division I. See Alfred C. Nichols Jr., "Kosher Mess at the Ten Mile River Scout Camps, July 18, 1945," 9 AJA/FLW: "To summarize, the problem has arisen because a setup originally established by conservative elements of Jewry has been suddenly changed to comply with orthodox standards. In view of food, staff, equipment, and labor difficulties, and the late date when the changes were ordered, the problem was most difficult."

(55.) Alfred C. Nichols Jr., "Confidential Memo - Kosher Mess, Ten Mile River Scout Camps, September 11, 1945," 3, AJA/FLW. Note that Nichols heavily revised his original report, excluding many details of dysfunction present in the July document and focusing instead on proposed remedies.

(56.) Idem., 1. In two other camps, the previous arrangement was maintained whereby a single kosher kitchen prepared meat and dairy meals, served either in a general dining hall that also served non-kosher food, or in an adjacent kosher dining hall. These camps, opened with kosher facilities in 1928 and 1929 respectively, were Kotohke (formerly known as Brooklyn D-t and Sacut), closed in 1956, and Nianque (formerly known as Bronx Division C and Ranachqua), closed in 1969. See history-1924-1969.htm.

(57.) Herman Alofshin, "Meeting Minutes - Special Committee of the JCoS for Greater NY," May 2, 1939," 1 (AJA/FLW).

(58.) "Brooklyn Council Report on Jewish Chaplaincy Service at Ten Mile River Camp During the Summer of 1940, Jan. 24, 1941," AJA/FLW. Cited in Sleutelberg, "A Critical History," 47.

(59.) In the summer of i960 Spielman and much of the Troop were part of the "kosher delegation" to the i960 National Scout Jamboree in Colorado Springs which was designated the "Golden Jubilee" in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of BSA. It was attended by over 56,000 scouts and leaders. Noah Gurock (Jeffrey's older brother) wrote of his participation, "I remember fondly going there in a bus designated for the 'kosher' scouts--whenever we stopped for the night (the trip took 4-5 days) we slept at a synagogue or other Jewish institution where we were served a kosher dinner. By the way, the kosher bus also included several Moslem scouts who chose kosher food because they were not provided with Halal (how times have changed)." See Noah Gurock, email message to the authors, April 16, 2016.

(60.) Howard Spielman, Written Responses to Questions about Orthodox Scouting, email message to the authors, May 4, 2016. Full disclosure, Howard Spielman is the father of one of the authors and Simon Spielman was his grandfather.

(61.) Howard Spielman, interview with authors, Bet Shemesh, Israel, May 11, 2016.

(62.) Bayla Sheva Brenner, "Shomer Shabbat Boy Scouting: Why Orthodox Kids Become Boy Scouts," Jewish Action, August 27, 2015, https://www.0u.0rg/jewish_acti0n/08/2015/ shomer-shabbat-boy-scouting-why-orthodox-kids-become-boy-scouts.

(63.) Morty Fink, "Written Response to Questions Regarding Jewish Scouting," email message to the authors, April 13, 2016 |henceforth Fink Correspondence!. In J940, out of 1,901 Scouts at the Brooklyn camps, 1,078 were Jewish, 820 attended the two kosher divisions and 229 were on a waiting list for kosher food. Of those, 105 could not be accommodated and never went to camp. Benjamin C. Ribman, "Our Plan of Action," Boy Scout Foundation of Greater New York, Brooklyn Council, Jewish Advisory Committee, January 9, 1941, AJA/FLW.

(64.) Robert Peterson, "Living the Jewish Law in Summer Camp," Scouting Magazine 80 (1993): 93

(65.) Sarna, "The Crucial Decade in Jewish Camping," 27.

(66.) Charles S. Liebman, "Orthodoxy in American Jewish Life," American Jewish Year Book 66 (1965): 2.1-97.

(67.) Fink Correspondence. In the early twenty-first century, the Scoutmaster of one the Jewish troops that attended Kunatah was a Conservative rabbi. At a certain point, the troop decided to organize their own services at their campsite. Avraham Witty, Written Correspondence with authors, June 28, 2016.

(68.) See Adam S. Ferziger, Exclusion and Hierarchy: Orthodoxy, Nonobservance, and the Emergence of Modern Jewish Identity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

(69.) See the endearing way Rabbi Herschel Schacter and other Orthodox chaplains are described in Bernstein, "A Scout is Reverent," 8.pdf.

(70.) On interdenominational tensions during this period, see for example, Jonathan D. Sarna, "The Debate over Mixed Seating in the American Synagogue" in The American Synagogue: A Sanctuary Transformed, ed. Jack Wertheimer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 363-94.

(71.) NA, "Summer Camp Leadership Announced," Red Dot Trails: The Official Newsletter of the Friends of TMR 5 (spring 2007): 1. The term haredi is translated from Biblical Hebrew as "one who trembles" (see Isaiah 66:2). Sociologist Samuel Heilman describes those Jews in this category as "fervently religious." See Samuel C. Heilman, Sliding to the Right: The Contest for the Future of American Orthodoxy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2006), 4.

(72.) Witty Correspondences, May 16 and June 28, 2016.

(73.) Ibid.

(74.) See for example, Adam R. Ferziger, Beyond Sectarianism: The Realignment of American Orthodox Judaism (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2015), 175- 191.

(75.) NA, Shlichus: Meeting the Challenge of Outreach--A Resource Book for Shluchim (Brooklyn: Nshai Chabad Publications, 1990), 105.

(76.) See The-Boychik-Scouts.htm.

(77.) Michael Albukerk, "Written Email Response to Questions Regarding Jewish Scouting," email message to the authors, May 11, 2016, (henceforth Albukerk Correspondence].

(78.) The base of the Chabad-Lubavitch community in North America is Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

(79.) Albukerk Correspondence.

(80.) See For a report prior to the change in BSA policy on Chabad involvement with Scouting that addresses this issue, see Allie Vered, "Morality and Ethics at Boy Scouts Jamboree," (April 14, 2005), jamboree/.

(81.) For a description of the Chabad experience at the 2001 National Scouting Jubilee see Aliza Karp, "Scouting for Neshamos," Beis Moshiach, 28 Menachem Av, 576j-- August 17, 2001, 38-42,

(82.) See for example,

(83.) For another exception, see Ben Tanny, Camping on Shabbat - How to: Build an Eruv, Bake Bread, Go to the Toilet, and More ... (Self-published, 2014). Although Girl Scouts are a completely separate entity, it should be noted that a Chabad Girl Scouts troop was established on Manhattan's Upper West Side, see photogallery_cdo/aid/i o 16494/jewish/Girl-Scouts-First-Meeting.htm#photoid=3 463042

(84.) Ner Israel is one of American Haredi Orthodoxy's banner institutions, although considered a more moderate one. On Ner Israel Rabbinical College, see William B. Helmreich, The World of the Yeshiva: An Intimate Portrait of Orthodox Jewry, augmented edition (New York: Ktav, 2000), 26-32.

(85.) Spielman Interview. At age 18, Scouts typically age out of the youth program and may continue their involvement as adult leaders.

(86.) Chanina Szendro, telephone interview with the authors, July 29, 2016.

(87.) Ibid.

(88.) See

(89.) Spielman Interview. Notable for continued Haredi involvement with BSA, one of the "bochrim" who worked with Szendro and is himself an Eagle Scout, David Cynamon, is Scoutmaster of Troop 611, which is located in Baltimore's Haredi-oriented Shearith Israel Congregation. See Margie Pensak, "Scouting Around Baltimore,", March 15, 2015. On Shearith Israel, see Yaakov Menken, "A Tale of Two Synagogues," Cross-Currents, April 1, 2007, http://www.cr0ss- currents.c0m/archives/2007/04/01/a-tale-of-two-synagogues/.

(90.) For an expanded discussion, see Ferziger, Beyond Sectarianism.

(91.) For instance, Kesher campers and staff continued to wear the Scout uniform even on the campus of Mogen Avraham. Szendro Interview.

(92.) On Ramah, see most recently with additional prior published bibliographical references, Joseph Reimer "Vision, Leadership, and Change: The Case of Ramah Summer Camps," Journal of Jewish Education 76: no. 3 (2010): 246-271.

(93.) Eliav Bock, "Reflections on the Ramah Experience," March t6, 2016, http://www.

(94.) Ibid.
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Author:Ferziger, Adam S.; Spielman, Hillel D.
Publication:American Jewish History
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2017
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