What The Boy Scouts Can Teach Trump — And Israel — About Family

Rabbi Howard Goldsmith, spiritual leader of Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester, writes about the “values that really matter” in regards to morality and strong families.

Right before I became an Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts of America added a new required merit badge: The Family Life merit badge. This was the mid-1990s, right around the time when LGBT people began to receive more wide-spread acceptance in society. Indeed, the LGBT and allies coalition at my high school had strong support around the community. And so, when the reputedly conservative Boy Scouts introduced this badge, I decided that I would do it my way or give up on the hope of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout for which I’d been working since joining the Cub Scouts a decade earlier.

This memory came charging back into my mind twice in the past few days. Last week, bowing to ultra-Orthodox political pressure, the Israeli cabinet expressed opposition to adoption by same-sex couples. They claimed that, given the “reality of Israeli society,” same-sex parents put an “additional burden” on their adopted children. Thousands came out to protest this ridiculous conclusion which countless studies contradict. The decision rang especially cynical given Israel’s propensity to fly a rainbow flag espousing its LGBT tolerance in a sea of Middle Eastern hostility. Good parenting and healthy family dynamics do not depend on the sexual orientation of the parents.

That Family Life merit badge, and its political overtones, also came to mind this week when President Trump turned the Boy Scout Jamboree into a nasty and nakedly political event. Instead of celebrating the Boy Scout values of service, kindness, and courtesy, he railed against political opponents and President Obama. The Boy Scouts put out a mild statement after the fact that they remain a non-partisan group. A more forceful denunciation would help to reinforce their embrace of values over politics. Continue reading in The Forward