“Scouting has allowed me to do things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. It has allowed me to be free,” says Hadassah Grimaldi, a member of an all Orthodox Jewish Venturing Crew.

Hadassah (left), Miriam (center), and Zipporah (right), at Jamboree.

Hadassah, and her sister Zipporah love archery, shooting, horseback riding, rocking climbing and especially hiking. This summer, to experience all their favorite Scouting activities, and more, they attended the 2017 National Jamboree with their mother, Miriam. Although they hail from New Rochelle, New York, their Boy Scout Council doesn’t reflect their Empire State home.

Their story is unique because they are part of a council that is made up of people from all over the nation. It is an Orthodox-Jewish culture group they call the Shomer Shabbat contingency. They get together for a variety of events, like Philmont and Jamboree. This is significant because the group provides a variety of things that Orthodox Jews need to practice their religion, like kosher food and a synagogue space.

“Luckily, the Jamboree has been really accommodating,” Miriam remarks. It can be difficult to find places that go out of their way to provide for the needs of the Orthodox Jewish religion. So, because Jamboree supports them in such a way, the Council is able to return year after year. 

At Jamboree, there was a large camp that consisted of Orthodox Jews. The Grimaldi girls explained how they joined this group for their Sabbath dinner. Their council name, Shomer Shabbat, literally translates to “Sabbath Observer,” and the Orthodox Jews at Jamboree demonstrated this well.

Shomer Shabbat Scouts in a tent designated for their Synagogue at Jamboree

Those practicing the Orthodox Jewish religion observe their Sabbath on Saturday. So, Friday night the Grimaldi’s, along with the other members, prepared for the Sabbath. They cooked all of their food, bathed, and dressed for the next day so that they could reverently observe the Sabbath. Scouting’s focus on Duty to God was exemplified by these faithful members and by the Jamboree staff that worked to accommodate their practices. 

Girls’ Day(s) Out

What makes the Grimaldi’s trip especially significant is that the three women are part of the first-ever all-female group to come with the Shomer Shabbat contingency. Unfortunately, they were not able to get a full crew of girls to come on this trip because it was a big step for many people to take. However, these girls are pioneers paving the way for future all-female groups of the Shomer Shabbat Council. 

This unprecedented journey provided many fun and exciting adventures for the New York natives. However, their favorite activities were unique ones that many jamboree-goers might not have chosen as their favorite experiences.

When asked what their favorite activities were, both Hadassah and Zipporah quickly said “the walking!” Luckily for them, The Summit requires quite a lot of walking and hiking to navigate its many activities. The girls loved finding their way and exploring the grounds. When you come from a crowded metropolitan area like they do, it’s no surprise that roaming through all the open space would quickly become a favorite activity. Hadassah said, “My favorite part is walking around and finding your way. As it is my first time here, I’m not sure where to go. But that’s the fun part.”

For first-time visitors, exploring the breathtaking, mountainous area must be an adventure of its own. The girls also spent plenty of time geocaching, finding over half of all the geocaches at The Summit. With a little more time at The Summit, I’m sure they would have found them all.

The sisters have been involved in Scouting since they were in kindergarten. Although they have been doing Scouting activities with the family, they are now a part of their own Venturing Crew. Coming to Jamboree was the biggest thing their Crew has done so far. However, if they continue on their Scouting journey, I’m sure there is much more in-store for them. Maybe even another trip to The Summit for the World Jamboree.

A Great Opportunity for Everyone

A Jewish Scouting patch, given out at the 2017 National Jamboree

“We think Scouting is great,” Miriam remarks. “It’s a great opportunity for both boys and girls.” Scouting has had a positive impact on the lives of these girls.

Not only does Scouting provide a welcoming atmosphere for those of all religions, it also opens its arms to the whole family. We can’t wait to see the Shomer Shabbat all-girls Venturing Crew grow and experience the adventure of Scouting. 

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