May 30, 2024
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Cub Scouts Launch Pilot Program for Kindergarten-Age Boys

This year, under new Cubmaster Ari Farkas’ leadership, the Northern New Jersey Council of the Boy Scouts of America approached him with a request to pilot a new initiative—Cub Scouting’s new program for kindergarten-age boys called Lions.

Eagle Scout Jonathan Schachter of Fair Lawn made aliyah this past summer, vacating his position as Cubmaster to 40 young boys from Teaneck, Bergenfield, New Milford, Englewood and Fair Lawn. Farkas of Teaneck, having served as Wolf assistant den leader for his son Yonatan and, subsequently, Tiger den leader for his son Daniel, volunteered to fill the vacancy. Having been introduced to the program by Rabbi Tanchum Cohen, Congregation Beth Abraham’s assistant rabbi, Farkas quickly realized the merits of the program and willingly took the reigns.

The program, to be initiated this Sunday, December 4, at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, is geared to 5-year-old boys and their adult partners. Meetings, which will be held twice monthly on Sunday mornings, will be coordinated by a Lion Guide, a parent who, guided by Cubmaster Farkas, will take upon himself the BSA training, registration of Lion participants and their accompanying adults, arranging for the locations, designating the programs for the bi-monthly meetings and assisting the adult partners in preparing to present a program. Effie Markovitz of Teaneck will be serving as the initial Lion Guide for the program, accompanying his son Eitan, a kindergartner at Yeshivat Noam, who will be one of the eight participant Lions in that den.

With over 2.4 million youth members and over 1 million adult volunteers, Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, is the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth organization. Its goal is to build character, train participants to be responsible citizens and help them develop personal fitness. The Scout Oath declares, “On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” The Scout Law proclaims, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

BSA is a private organization, not affiliated with any particular organization. However, its packs are sponsored by religious organizations and are hosted in religious facilities. Ahavat Achim of Fair Lawn has sponsored the local Cub Scouts for the past four years. Their weekly activities and adventures have been very much in keeping with the BSA mission in conjunction with Orthodox Jewish tradition.

The Cub Scouting program of BSA involves boys ages 7 through 11, in grades 1 through 5. Beginning with grade 1, their designations are Tigers, Wolves, Bears, Webelos and Arrows of Light. The weekly programs highlight one of the 12 principles that guide the program including obedience, thrift and bravery. An activity revolving around the principle of reverence took the Teaneck Cubs to Congregation Ahavat Torah in Englewood to see the beautiful Ashkenazi and Sephardi synagogues. Another adventure focused on community service that our local Cub den performed on Mitzvah Day when they cleaned up trash in Paterson Falls in an effort to beautify the environment and preserve nature. Tigers have gone on nature walks and learned about the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.

Cubs participate in athletic competitions such as relay races. For their completion of activities they are rewarded with belt loops or pins that they attach to their Cub shirts or/and belts. This engenders a sense of pride and accomplishment. The newly formed Lions will also have their own Lion shirts and kippot and will be eligible to earn prizes and designations for activities completed. The activities for the Lions will be modeled after those for the older Cubs. One example will be the Pinewood Derby for which Cubs create racing cars from wood measured to exact proportions. Then the models are raced against each other in a derby, with the winning racers applauded. The Lions will have their own version of the Pinewood Derby by building and racing cars made from lego pieces.

As Cubmaster, Farkas, professionally an immigration attorney for a multinational law firm, encourages the parents of the local communities to come out on Sunday to explore the possibility of becoming involved in the new Lion pilot program and the existing Cub program. “I am always available to lend support to parent participants. I supervise pack meetings, recognize children’s accomplishments and host the bridging ceremonies. I believe that the BSA programs that we follow in our dens are truly in consonance with the Jewish values that we try to instill in our children and reinforce them through meaningful and fun activities.”

The initial meeting of the Lions will be held on Sunday, December 4, at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, at 10 a.m. in the lower lobby.

By Pearl Markovitz

 

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