Hundreds of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts skipped Black Friday deals to trek through freezing temperatures in New Hyde Park in an effort to learn more about different faiths.
The Scouts, some accompanied by their families, and troop leaders participated in the Boy Scouts of America’s Theodore Roosevelt Council 22nd annual Ten Commandment Hike. Held for the first time in New Hyde Park, the hike last Friday included stops at different houses of worship in the neighborhood.
“Instead of going to the malls we come for some spiritual uplifting and learning about what we have in common,” Jerry Katz, chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Council’s All Faith Committee, said.
The hike, organized by the committee, led Scouts to Hindu temples and synagogues alike, in an effort to educate them on different cultures, similarities across religions and the Ten Commandments.
“We’re here to better understand the Ten Commandments and understand how other faiths practice their worship,” Scout Kevin Schulman, of Levittown, said. “It shows that we’re really truly connected with everyone and that we practice tolerance with all people.”
Driving around New Hyde Park Friday without noticing the caravan of Scouts would have been difficult to do. Starting at 8 a.m. from Notre Dame Church, the Scouts visited seven houses of worship over the course of nearly seven hours and more than five miles, arm in arm, led and flanked by tall red flags.
Eventually arriving at Temple Tikvah, the Scouts filed into the place of worship and admired the large hall and a copy of the Torah rescued from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. The Scouts talked with Rabbi Randy Sheinberg about the basics of Judaism, the Torah and the Great Commandment, among other topics.
“This is, for me, really one of the key parts of being a rabbi,” Sheinberg said. “I think so much of every faith is about seeing the divine in another human being.
“Just by asking questions and having a conversation, it’s really playing out the best of who we are.”
Starting at Notre Dame Parish, the troop visited the Hillside Islamic Center, Vaishnav Hindu Temple, New Hyde Park Baptist Church, First Presbyterian Church of New Hyde Park, Temple Tikvah and Christ Lutheran Church before returning to Notre Dame.
In total, more than 250 Scouts, family members and organizers participated in the religious hike.
“I think the kids learn that what they know about their own religion is common in other religions,” Katz said. “It’s often said that a house of worship has windows so that one could look out, but it’s also so that one can look in and see what’s going on.”