“Share Our World, Share Our Culture,” was the theme of the 20th World Scout Jamboree, an international convention for boy and girl scouts ages 14-18 that met December 28th through January 8th in Thailand, the host country for this year’s convention. The Jamboree drew some 30,000 youths and their leaders from over 140 countries worldwide for 12 days of camping and self-development in the educational Scout method.
When Thailand’s Chief Rabbi Yoseph Kantor was asked to address the scouts as part of a New Year’s rite in which several major religions participated through representative speakers, he knew his audience would hardly be Jewish.
The Scout Association has some 28 million participants worldwide, only a tiny fraction of whom are Jewish, and Thailand certainly isn’t a hub of Jewish scouting itself. But seizing the opportunity to reach out to thousands of children who might never again have exposure to anything Jewish, Rabbi Kantor, Chabad representative to Bangkok since 1993, put forward the universal message of Judaism that transcends barriers of ethnic and cultural differences. Peace on earth, said Rabbi Kantor, must ultimately be achieved through the unwavering efforts of every member of humanity.
Rabbi Kantor elaborated on the idea of realizing mutual cooperation toward the goal of universal harmony. This can only be achieved in a society where individuals learn to rise above egocentric behavior, and make space for the other. The Seven Noahide Laws, Judaism’s guide toward moral behavior, explained Rabbi Kantor, is the prescription for universal happiness and peace. And with the sounding of a shofar—similar to the scouting tradition of blowing horns to symbolize action—Rabbi Kantor stepped off the stage to a loud applause.