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Boy Scouts to Take to the City

May 31, 2007 By:
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Thanks to a little mazel, no Cub or Boy Scout pack has ever picked -- or been randomly assigned -- the number 613. So when Center City mom Nora Tillman filled out the paperwork to start a new Jewish scouting troop, she immediately decided to name it after the number of commandments enumerated in the Five Books of Moses.

"This was just my way of sending up a flare, and saying let's try to create some community, something for our children, beyond school, shul and home," said Tillman, 38, who has four boys: ages 7, 5, and a set of 3-year-old twins.

A member of Congregation B'nai Abraham, Tillman reported that Center City has experienced an influx of families who keep kosher and observe Shabbat. Yet many of their kids attend different synagogues and schools, she added, and don't have much of a chance to interact. Therefore, Tillman thought that a scouting troop might help remedy the situation.

Due to her household, she began with the Boy Scouts.

"It's a very flexible organization," said Tillman, who spent about five years with Girl Scouts as a child. "You could go hunting for animal tracks in Fairmont Park, you could take them to the Academy of Natural Sciences or the zoo."

Nevertheless, a significant part of this troop's mission is to instill lessons about Jewish values in every activity.

It's been decades -- maybe as many as 50 years -- since a Jewish scouting group was actually based in Center City, according to Len Brownstein, chairman of the Jewish Committee on Scouting, which is affiliated with the Boy Scouts governing body for the Philadelphia area.

He added that roughly eight specifically Jewish Cub and Boy Scout groups exist in the region, most affiliated with synagogues.

So in Center City, what are the girls to do while the boys are out having all the fun?

Tillman assured that she'd help out anyone who wanted to start a Girl Scouts troop, though, "I can only climb one mountain at a time."

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