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I found the following on the internet today:

 

Jewish Group Splits With Scouts Over Gay Ban

Thursday, January 11, 2001 By Adrienne Mand

Jewish groups across the country find themselves torn over new guidelines in the Reform movement calling on synagogues and parents to break their ties with the Boy Scouts of the America because of the group's ban on gay leaders.

 

AP/Wide World

 

Reform Jewish leaders are speaking out against a Boy Scout ban on gay leaders.

 

 

In a letter to Reform movement congregations, the Joint Commission on Social Action says the Scouts' policy is "incompatible with our consistent belief that every individual regardless of his or her sexual orientation is created in the image of God and is deserving of equal treatment."

 

Soon after the recommendation, Temple Judea in Coral Gables, Fla., severed its ties with the Scouts after 49 years of sponsoring a troop. Members voted unanimously for the action.

 

The Reform movement, which includes about 1,000 congregations and 40 percent of America's 6 million Jews, ordains openly gay men and women as rabbis, and its Joint Commission on Social Action fought against the Scouts during the legal process that culminated with the Scouts' Supreme Court victory in June.

 

Jewish Scout leaders are obviously not pleased with the move, and other sectors of the faith have stood behind the Scouts throughout the debate. Even some Reform Jews are questioning the Joint Commission's decision.

 

"I think the call to sever ties with the Boy Scouts was an exaggerated response and overbroad, unnecessary and strangely reactionary," said Rabbi Clifford Librach of Temple Sinai in Sharon, Mass.

 

Rabbi Daniel Polish, director of the Joint Commission, said the recommendations were prompted by questions from congregations trying to reconcile the Scouts' policies with their own inclusion of gays and lesbians.

 

"We recognize the value of scouting. We know that it can be a very significant formative experience for a young man," Polish said. "(But) part of what they're transmitting to young men is stereotypical and prejudiced points of view."

 

Jerrold Lockshin, chairman of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, said the committee has not officially reacted to the Joint Commission's edict, but expressed dismay. The group represents all branches of the religion, including Orthodox Judaism, whose national organizations have fought in court on behalf of the Scouts.

 

"I think there are many more important things in Judaism for the Reform movement to be active about," said Lockshin.

 

Richard Schwadron, scoutmaster of Troop 11 at St. Louis' Congregation Temple Israel, said the synagogue's membership is currently debating the issue. "You have to be aware of people's feelings, and you have to be considerate," he said, "but at the same time, you're trying to provide leadership and role models in front of youth."

 

His troop has been actively involved in holiday celebrations and other programs at the temple, he said, but "by the same token, I understand they're reacting to the proper political-correctness of the moment."

 

Many secular groups, from school districts to corporations and charities, have turned on the Scouts since the June decision. New York City and San Diego schools have stopped sponsoring troops, and several Florida schools have forbidden the Scouts from using their facilities, stating that doing so violates the districts' non-discrimination policies.

 

 

"The issue should be on developing the boys' character and all the things scouting has stood for for 90 years."

 

 

Paul Kramer

 

 

 

 

And the Scouts and their supporters have fought back. In Florida, the Scouts sued some of the school districts that kicked them out, claiming that school officials denied them their right to free expression and equal access to public facilities. Elsewhere, parents have vowed boycotts of companies and organizations that withhold funding.

 

Lockshin said that while the Reform movement's protest will affect Jewish Scouts, it will not impact the organization as a whole because "one quarter of 1 percent of kids in scouting are Jews." While there are about 35,000 Jewish scouts affiliated with non-Jewish troops, about 8,000 kids belong to troops affiliated with synagogues or Jewish organizations.

 

The fear is that boys will miss out if those congregations end their relationships.

 

"They'll go to a troop somewhere else, and it might not be a Jewish-affiliated troop. I think that is a loss," said Paul Kramer, a Baltimore attorney who serves on the local, regional and national Jewish Committee on Scouting. "The issue should be on developing the boys' character and all the things scouting has stood for for 90 years."

 

But enforcement of the recommendations remains to be seen, as Polish noted that they are just guidelines.

 

"Every congregation is free in the end to weigh these issues as it chooses and come to the decision it wants, as is every parent," he said. "If a parent feels very strongly that they want their child to be in scouting, that is their decision."

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

 

 

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After I posted this originally on January 11, I discussed it briefly with our unit committee chair at our committee evening that evening. He is an active member of reform jewish synagogue and was very well aware of the controversy. He told me that he was very upset with his local rabbi, who took it upon himself to write letters to all the youth in the synagogue whom he knew to be eagle scouts, telling the youth that they should renounce their eagle awards. Needless to say, our chair, whose son received one of these letters, is not a happy camper. Now I ask you: Who is being intolerant and hostile to whom?

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Of note as well as these on going issues. There is a Scouting Defense Fund being administered by Edwin Meese (Former Attorney General of the U.S.)and many of these issues are being tackled by them. The National Council for Boy Scouts has put there resources behind two efforts; The one was the New Jersey case which the U.S. Supereme Court confirmed BSA's right to association, the other is the issues happening in Broward County in Fla. (The ones that have problems counting).

 

It is very difficult to live in a are where Scouting takes it on the chin as we do here in Wahsington State. What is equally troubling is that many denominations have turned there pias stare at Scouts and now are "judging". We can only do a couple of things, the main one is to vote, and also vote with our feet (and money). I encourage all the volunteers to ensure that there local Coucil is at the front of the media ink war, and are made aware of situations where these insitiuations make these decision.

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