Last week our son Jude came to us to make a serious argument about joining Cub Scouts.
The Scouts have activities that he really wanted to participate in - camping, archery, canoeing, shooting b-b guns, and this was before he found out about the overnight trip to the Atlanta Aquarium, which he has been longing to go to for months.
More importantly, Jude assured both of his parents, separately, that he embraced the values that we taught in our home, and that we should trust him to keep to those values outside our home, that he would, in his words, “Always be his mensch-y self.”
We use the term “mensch”, Yiddish for a person of morals and integrity, to describe good behavior in our home - everything from table manners to sharing and respect and fairness and justice.
So, in very short order, I went from protesting about Jude participating in an organization that still resisted one of our essential human values - namely the full welcome and inclusion of LGBT people, and equal rights for all, which I advocate for publicly on a regular basis - to escorting Jude to the “Scout Store” to purchase all the paraphernalia needed for his first pack meeting which took place yesterday.
Ginny and I very much want Jude to see that his well-reasoned opinions have an effect on us, and we will support his path, even when it isn’t ours.
Jude had a pretty good time, and I found nothing objectionable about grade school boys playing bingo, eating pizza, and running around creating mayhem in a playground. The Scout ethos is OK, a little bit more of a lean towards “group think” than I would prefer, but I must admit that I am particularly sensitive to such things.
On the topic of LGBT rights, it seems like the Boy Scouts may be shifting, and we hope to participate positively in that shift. (See this piece on a similar dilemma for other people).
When it comes to fundraising on behalf of the Cub Scout troop I will happily support going around our neighborhood and selling popcorn. However, I draw the line at the Christmas Tree sales for the den. This rabbi’s kid will NOT sell Christmas Trees!
And there is no argument that Jude can make to sway me on this matter.
[For a great take on the December Dilemma and being a Jew in a majority Christian society, check out Lemony Snicket's book below]