Temple B’Nai Israel’s Rabbi Peter Hyman is an Eagle Scout and proud of it.
His two sons are Eagle Scouts. He represented the World Organization of the Scout Movement’s Messengers of Peace program on a visit to Saudi Arabia in 2012.
He is a spiritual and community leader in the Mid-Shore area, known for his ecumenical outreach. For his congregants, he is credited with building membership since his arrival in 2009 to more than 200 members.
In June 2018, a brand-new building was built on Tristin Drive, off Easton Parkway (Rt 322), at the southernmost point of Easton, to accommodate the growing congregation of Temple B’Nai Israel, the Satell Center for Jewish Life in the Eastern Shore. Since its founding in 1951, the synagogue had been located behind Memorial Hospital.
On Sept. 23, beginning at 6 p.m. at the temple, Rabbi Hyman will receive the Midshore Distinguished Citizen Award from the Del-Mar-Va Council, Boy Scouts of America (BSA). At the same event, he also will officially receive the Bronze World Award, the highest international Scouting honor.
Through this annual event, more than $70,000 will be raised to support Mid-Shore Scout troops, specifically helping families unable to afford fees. The outpouring of support from the community has been heartwarming and well-deserved.
For full disclosure, I serve on a local committee comprising community leaders who have been working with the district council to plan the event and seek financial support. Unsurprisingly, we have learned first-hand how many people of all faiths, as well as the Temple B’Nai Israel family, like and admire the outgoing, personable and humorous religious leader.
For further disclosure, I rose to the rank of Cub Scout. My ambitions were limited.
In recent years as a member of the organizing committee, I have learned how many Eagle Scouts live in the Mid-Shore area, and how proud they feel about attaining the highest rank in Scouting.
I had the privilege to listen a few years ago to Dick Bodorff and Jim Harris, 2019 and 2020 recipients, respectively, of the Distinguished Service Award, as they traded stories about achieving the Eagle Scout rank. They credited their Scouting experience with life lessons that accrued to their benefit as they achieved career success.
A young neighbor, Jack Leffingwell, who just graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, was an Eagle Scout. I marveled at his rock-solid commitment during his teenage years to climb the Scout ladder, as most of his friends sought more adolescent activities to fill their spare time.
In speaking with a few people in recent years in pursuit of financial support of the annual recognition event, I have encountered adverse reactions to the lawsuit filed against the national Scouting organization for predatory sex abuse many years ago and the subsequent bankruptcy. Some compared Scouting allegations to the abuses in the Catholic Church.
While I do not discount these responses, I prefer to focus on Rabbi Peter Hyman, Dick Bodorff, Jim Harris, Jack Leffingwell and so many other Eagle Scouts, and what they have accomplished in their lives, due in part to Scouting. I prefer to believe the Scouting executives, who have stated that the Boy Scouts of America have strengthened their criteria for the choice of Troop leaders and the training that these individuals must undergo.
I am also pleased that women are now admitted to the BSA. It is as it should be.
I am impressed that roughly 10 percent of the classes at the service academy are Eagle Scouts, our future military and corporate leaders.
Rabbi Peter Hyman is an exemplary religious and community leader. His receipt of the Del-Mar-Va District’s Midshore Distinguished Service Award testifies to his lifelong interest in, and dedication to Scouting. He serves as a role model to youths and adults.
And, of course, he is a respected teacher and faith leader.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.