There is a nationally recognized Girl Scout program for Jewish troops across the United States and Tucson has its own troop. Girl Scout Troop 613, which includes girls in second to fourth grades, is led by one of the girls’ mothers, Nichole Chorny, who is the cantorial soloist at Congregation Anshei Israel. The troop meets two Sunday afternoons a month at Anshei Israel.
“I was a Girl Scout when I was a kid. My mother was the troop leader. I have lots of fun memories of camping and it really built up my confidence,” says Chorny. When her daughter turned 6, Chorny decided to create her own troop that would uphold Jewish practices and traditions. Chorny says Girl Scouts supports many of the same values as Judaism, such as having a strong moral code and giving back to people in need.
“613 is the number of commandments in the Torah. We chose this number to show our connection to Judaism through Girl Scouts,” says Chorny. The troop is open to girls of all religions and backgrounds.
Formed in 2017, Troop 613 has done several different types of charity work as part of its tzedakah program. The girls have donated to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona; started a stuffed animal drive to give to children being helped by firefighters, and put together birthday bags for needy families for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. This year the girls will be volunteering at Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging. The troop is still deciding whether to put on a performance or lead a service for the residents.
Along with charity work, the girls celebrate holidays such as Shabbat and Hanukkah and can earn awards for learning about Jewish religion, culture, and heritage.
“The Girl Scout program is a leadership building program. It’s really girl-led,” Chorny says. She explains that within the Girl Scout program, the acronym G.I.R.L. stands for “go-getter, innovative, risk-taker, and leader,” and the program really promotes those attributes.
The troop started small with only three girls but has grown to six members. Chorny says the troop is always open to new girls. For more information, contact her at [email protected].