A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Two local Cub Scouts earn coveted Aryeh Emblem

The Aryeh Emblem

Two Jewish Cub Scouts will be honored on Friday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at Temple Israel during this year’s Scout Shabbat. Liam Daniels and Robert Melnick, both members of United Hebrew Congregation, will receive their Aryeh Emblem. For Jewish scouts, an emblem signifies activities and learning about Judaism and its customs. Scouts in kindergarten and first grade are eligible for the Aryeh Emblem.

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Scout Shabbat is an annual event organized by the Jewish Committee on Scouting, part of the Greater St. Louis Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Earl Binder, chair of the committee, explained that Jewish scouting offers an opportunity for young people—and adults—to live the principles of scouting with a uniquely Jewish perspective.

“It’s something that I feel is important,” said Binder, 75, of his work with scouting. “Scout Shabbat is an opportunity for Jewish scouts to demonstrate their religious pride. Earning emblems is an example of how Jewish scouting supports both education and character development.”

To earn the Aryeh (“Lion” in Hebrew) Emblem, Liam and Robert completed a workbook of activities demonstrating their knowledge of Judaism. They were required to understand basic Hebrew words, describe the characteristics of a mezuzah, and explain the purpose of a minyan.

As scouts advance in school, they become eligible for additional emblems, including the Maccabee (for first through third graders), the Aleph (for third through fifth graders), the Ner Tamid (for scouts ages 11-17), and the Etz Chaim (for scouts ages 14-17). The requirements to earn emblems become more complex as scouts advance. For example, the Etz Chaim emblem requires the scout to research Jewish history and genealogy, and volunteer for a Jewish organization.

Binder, Michael Ukman, Steve Heyman, Steve Sobelman and Bruce Levitt are among veteran St. Louis Jewish scouters who have volunteered for years to maintain a healthy local Jewish scouting program. Binder, a member of United Hebrew, got involved with scouting as an adult leader in 1985 when his son was a cub scout. The Binders helped collect food before Thanksgiving that year as part of the Scouting for Food drive, America’s largest one-day food collection.

“I’ve been very active with training since 1990,” Binder said. “I’ve trained adult scout leaders and worked as a commissioner to keep units alive and healthy, along with other duties.”

It is not known how many Jewish scouts are active in the St. Louis area, but Binder said most of them live in two areas: the New Horizons District, which includes Brentwood, Kirkwood, Parkway, Rockwood, Valley Park and Webster Groves school districts; and the Pathfinder District, which includes the Maplewood/Richmond Heights, Clayton, Ladue, Pattonville and Ritenour school districts.

Temple Israel, the host synagogue for 2024 Scout Shabbat, is also the home of Troop 11, the oldest, and currently only, Jewish troop in the St. Louis Area Council of Boy Scouts of America. Troop 11 accepts scouts of all faiths ages 11-18.

Additional information on Jewish scouting in the Greater St. Louis Area Council is available here.



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About the Contributor
Bill Motchan, writer/photographer
Bill worked in corporate communications for AT&T for 28 years. He is a former columnist for St. Louis Magazine. Bill has been a contributing writer for the Jewish Light since 2015 and is a three-time winner of the Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish Journalism. He also is a staff writer for the travel magazine Show-Me Missouri. Bill grew up in University City. He now lives in Olivette with his wife and cat, Hobbes. He is an avid golfer and a fan of live music. He has attended the New Orleans Jazzfest 10 times and he has seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more t han 30 times between 1985 and 2023.