by Suzanne Pollak
Jewish and Muslim cub scouts competed together as they raced their homemade wooden cars down two tracks during Sunday's Interfaith Pinewood Derby.
The event, held at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, featured camaraderie, competition and cheers in three languages.
"It was very successful. The boys were very enthusiastic," said Jeffrey Cohen, who emceed the day's events. "It was a wonderful event to be part of. We hope to do this on an annual basis."
The event was sponsored jointly by the Jewish Committee on Scouting and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society. Scouts from 13 different packs and differing faiths participated.
Cohen, a Tiger Den leader from Aspen Hill, began the day with "a basic welcome in English, Hebrew and Arabic. We said welcome, shalom, salaam."
As the event drew to a close, Rizwan Jaki, a scout leader with the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, led the boys in a cheer. As one side yelled shalom, the other replied salaam, Cohen said, noting, "It went back and forth."
The goal of the Interfaith day was to let the boys get to know each other while having a good time.
In other scouting news, six local adult scout leaders from the Jewish Committee on Scouting of the National Capital Area Council joined about 70 other scout leaders at the 25th annual Northeast Region Jewish Committee on Scouting March 18 in New Jersey.
The day-long training and conference event focused on improving Jewish programs in order to promote the recruitment and retention of Jewish youth in scouting.
During the training, Cohen received the Bronze Chai Award, and Seth Distler of Springfield was awarded the Gold Chai Award. Phil Sternberg of Alexandria was honored with the Shofar Award, a national Jewish Committee award recognizing outstanding service by adults in the promotion of scouting among Jewish youths.
Other local leaders attending the day were Robert Book of Fairfax, Joel Straus of Silver Spring and Yehuda Katz of Silver Spring.