Adam Racer Schuit of West Windsor has completed his Eagle Scout Project by constructing a portable Torah ark for the Beth Chaim Temple Youth. He presented it at a special dedication service held during Chanukah on Friday, December 17. After the project is approved by the Boy Scout Council, Schuit will receive his Eagle Award — the highest award earned in Boy Scouting.
When Schuit was thinking about his Eagle Scout project, he learned that Congregation Beth Chaim wanted a portable Torah Ark to enable services to be held at youth group events not held in the main sanctuary. After gaining permission from Rabbi Eric Wisnia, Beth Chaim’s director Brian Chartock, the ritual and sisterhood committees, and the Boy Scouts, he was ready to begin his project.
Close to 100 people helped Schuit with the design, funding, and building the ark. In his speech at the dedication service, Schuit highlighted the contributions of individuals including Kevin Coyle, David Lee, David and Tony Vinci, Peter Freedman, and Tony Lieber. Diane Ackerman of East Windsor hemmed the curtains and embroidered the curtain tiebacks with “Beth Chaim” in Hebrew using golden thread. His Eagle advisors are Ken Colbert and Chris Gaylo.
The six-foot tall ark on wheels is made from birch veneer and the doors open flush to the sides so the entire congregation can see inside the Ark when the doors open. The internal light goes on when the doors open and the casters allow the Ark to be wheeled from room to room.
Following is an excerpt from Schuit’s speech at the dedication service:
“There are a few features of the Ark I would like to point out. The Eternal Light is made from a hollowed out translucent stone, lit by an electric bulb inside. It symbolizes not only the Ner Tamid, but also the Mount Sinai, where Moses received the commandments from God. Although each tile on the door appears to be the same, they are actually all a little different, as are all Jews. The grout holding the tiles together is the same color as both the Eternal light and the Torah mantel cover. The grout symbolizes Judaism, the mortar that holds all Jewish people together. Half of the Star of David is on each door. The Star is made whole when the doors to the Ark are closed.”
Born in Princeton, Schuit, who will turn 15 this month, has lived in West Windsor all his life, first in Penns Neck and since 1996, in Dutch Neck. His father, Michael Schuit, is a deputy attorney general in the environmental permitting counsel section of the New Jersey Division of Law, president of the Friends of West Windsor Open Space (FOWWOS), and an active member of the West Windsor Boy Scout Troop 40 Committee. His mother, Ronda Siegel, is an IBM director and a member of the Central New Jersey Chapter of the Cornell Club. His sister, Emily Schuit, 12, is a student at Community Middle School.
A freshman at High School North, Schuit competes on the 200 and 400 free relays on the swim team. On Tuesday, January 4, he took first place in the 200 meter relay in North’s meet against Ewing. He was a member of the fall freshman soccer team and played on the West Windsor Plainsboro Recreation soccer team. A pitcher for West Windsor Plainsboro Babe Ruth Team and Garden State Yankees, he trains with Bill Bethea and Scott Bradley. He also umpires for the West Windsor Little League and referees for West Windsor Plainsboro Recreations soccer games. Last June, he organized the first Troop 40 softball team in the annual David Suarez Charity Softball Tournament, and raised over $500 in scholarship money. Suarez, a Troop 40 Eagle Scout, died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
Schuit began scouting as a Tiger Cub Scout in 1997 and is currently a Life Scout and Eagle Scout candidate in West Windsor Troop 40. He has earned over 40 merit badges, is a member of the Scouting “Order of the Arrow,” and earned the Ner Tamid, a Jewish Scouting award. He is a chaplain aide for Troop 40 and has led the Jewish prayer service for scouts from throughout central New Jersey.
Schuit, a piano player, organized an annual musical for senior citizens in 2000 featuring teenage musicians. They perform the holiday concert at the Windrows Assisted Living Facility in Plainsboro.
“Adam sees a career in business and sports and would like to work for Nike someday,” says his father. “He fits the Nike slogan of ‘Just Do It.’”
– Lynn Miller