Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Boy Scout Remembers

Sorry about the delay between posts.  Baseball and life sometimes gets in the way of pet projects.  Last week, when the weather was so beautiful, I spent a morning shooting video of Downtown Trenton and went down and walked around in the area bounded by South Broad, Market and Cooper Street.   It's amazing to think that there was such a high concentration of Jews in such a small area.  Other than Broad and Market, Cooper Street is the only intersection that still exists from the bygone days.  The new courthouse is going up on the Northwest side of the street.  I have to wonder, if, when they were excavating behind the old courthouse any artifacts turned up from Baran's or Benny Hock's or maybe even a racing form from Waldman's Barber Shop?

I received an interesting e-mail a few weeks ago from Norm Denard, who sent along some information that he had originally sent to Ozzie Zuckerman six years ago, concerning the Boy Scouts troops from various temples and synagogues in the Trenton area during the 1940’s. 

When I was growing up in the Northwest Philadelphia suburbs in the 1960’s, the only Boy Scouts troops near us were sponsored by local churches and I think I lasted a couple of meetings and one campout.  Professionally, I’ve produced videos for the Central New Jersey Council’s Spirit of America awards.  Last year, a Muslim imam gave the opening benediction and a Muslim Eagle Scout gave a wonderful speech. 

I did a little research and learned that there is a strong link between the Boy Scouts in America and Jews.   There is a National Jewish Committee on Scouting and it details how close that bond is.  

In fact, the Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and the next year, a Jewish financier named Mortimer Schiff gave almost $5,000 and was one of the fist major donors to the BSA.   The first Jewish troop followed 2 years later, at the 92nd Street "Y" in New York, and by 1957 there were 1,367 troops chartered to Jewish organizations.

Enough background, here is the note that Norm sent to Ozzie.   See if you recognize any of the names and check your photo albums to see if you have any pictures that we can share.

As an 83 year old former Trenton native (editor's note-Not sure if this makes Norm 89 now?), I’ve enjoyed your columns very much.

I believe you covered some of the Jewish Scouting in Trenton previously, but I think there’s a bit more history.  Perhaps you were limited by space considerations, or otherwise. So I’d like to add my memories of people and places

There was Troop 6, sponsored by the YMHA.  I think Joe Fishberg was the Scoutmaster.

Walter Lustgarten, Erwin Fehr, Larry Pincus and Harold Bulit and Hemy Donskoy were  members.  There were others I’m  sure.  Those who went to Camp Pahaquarra called their tent group Shloffshane near the river bank.

I eventually transferred to a new Troop 93 which had been formed by combining troops from Adath Israel and Har Sinai.  Adath Israel’s troop had been led by Scoutmaster Dave Traub and included Abner and Leon Robinson, Irving Felton, Sol Lassoff and Arnold Milgaten among others.  They had an association with the 112th Field Artilllery in Lawrence and oftern rode the horses there.

Har Sinai’s troop was led by Scoutmaster Ted Pierson.  He left for Syracuse a year or so later and Julian Goodstein became our scoutmaster.  Julian was also a concert pianist and taught piano.  He was a respected and active leader of the troop for many years.  Bill Nochumson who was a surveyor helped many scouts with their mapping requirements.

Leon  (“Red”) Levy was also a Scoutmaster.  (Perhaps Bernard Green, also)

Members included Fred Holtzberg, Harry and Isaac Garb, Jerry Garb, Newton Milner, Norton Milner and Newton Dana, Jack Hoenig, Marvin Swern, Jerry Robinson, Leonard Silverstein, Stan and Len Milner, Jerry Urken, Alvin Cohen, Barry Rednor, Bob Green,  Alvin Krasne, Ralph Lebair, “Petey” Goldberg, Hemy Donskoy, Stanley Siegle and Larry Felton .

Every year the local scout council held a spring “camporal”; sometimes in the woods above the Katzenbach School for the Deaf, later at Washingeon Crossing State Park.  We camped out and competed in various scouting activities for a weekend.

I am sure I’ve forgotten many names, so perhaps a few others can make additions and corrections…If there are enough survivors around, perhaps we could have a reunion.

If you have any Boy Scout memories, please share them with the community, by clicking on the comment button below or you can e-mail them to and I will share them.



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