Joshua Gilstein, a member of Boy Scout Troop 331 in Holmdel, has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout while helping his synagogue — and the larger community — at the same time.
As his Eagle project, Joshua, a senior at Holmdel High School, organized and carried out the planting of a 1,000-square-foot garden last spring at Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls.
Since then, the synagogue has contributed over 300 pounds of vegetables grown in the garden to Lunch Break, a local food bank in Red Bank.
“It was a lot of work planning and leading the development of the garden, but it was really satisfying knowing that the produce was going to Lunch Break, where it would be distributed to those in need,” Joshua said.
“It’s been an amazing project because it’s brought people in from every corner of the community,” the temple’s Rabbi Jonathan Roos told NJ Jewish News. “Joshua is an outstanding natural leader. He has a very deep level of commitment and a very easy interpersonal style. “
Joshua created a plan for the garden with the help of temple congregant Howard Bodner, a Master Gardener certified by the county. Joshua solicited over $800 in donations for equipment and worked with the temple board to secure a commitment from a group of people who would tend the garden and harvest the produce.
Over two weekends, 35 people worked on creating “Gan Mazon,” or garden of sustenance. Temple preschoolers helped plant pumpkins.
Joshua received confirmation from the temple as a 10th-grader and is a member of the regional board of North American Federation of Temple Youth.
On Sept. 29, he presented the final report on the execution of his project to an Eagle Scout board of review. A formal ceremony with the Eagle Scout Court of Honor is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 10, at the Holmdel Community Center.