Max Waldor, a member of the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC) made the rank of Eagle Scout with Troop 996 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in October 2013 with his Eagle Scout Project, the Holocaust Memorial at Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation and was awarded the Terry L. and Carol J. Grove Central Florida Council Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award and the Central Florida Council’s National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year. He was also awarded the National Chester M. Vernon Memorial Eagle Scout Scholarship by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting by becoming an Eagle Scout, for his involvement with his synagogue, and completing the Aleph, Ner Tamid and Etz Chaim Jewish badge requirements. His advisors were respectively Rabbi Daniel Wolpe, Cantor Doug Ramsay and Rabbi Hillel Skolnik of Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation (SOJC). These three awards represent all his years of scouting from Cub Scouts at age six, through his Eagle Scout Rank at age 17. NESA also honored Max with the Hall/McElwain Merit College Scholarship.
The Holocaust Memorial at Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation was created to keep the stories of those whose lives were lost or altered during the Holocaust from being forgotten. At 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide, the memorial is a collection of stories, reproduced on tile and via the internet, to honor and describe the experiences of 40 plus survivors during a terrible chapter in our history. Each story is collected over several tiles, and augmented by a smartphone-readable QR code that leads to more information. Each is also a compilation of interviews, research and information that Max collected in order to honor these individuals. The collection of material includes hyperlinks connecting the viewer to the organizations and museums around the world that support keeping these memories alive and encourage tolerance and understanding among different cultures.
Gerda Weissmann Klein, one of the survivors commemorated, wrote about the project:
“I am deeply touched by the caring, sensitivity and dedication Max Waldor has displayed with his Holocaust Memorial wall project. As a survivor and someone who has dedicated over 6 decades of my life to sharing my story of survival, I find is especially heart-warming that Max has shown such passion for this project. Today’s youth are messengers to a time I shall not see. I am comforted and assured that with future leaders such as Max Waldor the world will become a better place!” – Gerda Weissmann Klein, Holocaust survivor, author and 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient.
This project is the culmination of a lifetime of scouting experiences, rising through the ranks of scouting from Wolf cub to Tenderfoot, from Star to Eagle. Max’s community service involvement includes leading services in the SOJC Cantorial Corps, being a teacher assistant, a member of Kadima and United Synagogue Youth (USY), volunteering for Jewish Family Services’ food pantry, Give Kids the World and Hunter’s Creek Relay for Life. This Holocaust Memorial is a highly ambitious gift to the Orlando community and the world at large as Max has managed the entire production, from initial design, to story collection, tile production and memorial construction. For giving back to the community he has been awarded The Disney’s Dreamers and Doers Award.
The Eagle Award is a pinnacle achievement for Boy Scouts. To earn it, a scout must be an individual Life Scout who has completed a series of Merit Badges and is under the age of 18, and must conceive, plan and lead a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or community. The project idea must be approved by the troop’s scout master, troop committee and council or district before it can begin.
The Holocaust Memorial at Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation was quickly approved with the Eagle Scout Board acknowledging that it is a refreshing and challenging idea for an Eagle Scout Project, involving promotion, fundraising, self-education, design and leadership. Max Waldor’s goal was to leave a legacy with the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation and educate the community and future generations about the Holocaust, not only the horrors of the period, but also about the enduring human spirit.
Max graduated with honors from Dr. Phillips High School Center for International Studies (CIS) Magnet. He visited Auschwitz/Birkenau on the eve of Passover and lead a seder for non-Jewish classmates. He played saxophone and piano in Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, and musicals. A member of National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, Rho Kappa, and Tri-M, he is an AP Scholar with Distinction and received the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt National Merit Scholarship.
Max Waldor is now a freshman at the University of Central Florida as a Provost Scholar member of the Burnett Honors College and in the LEAD Scholar Program. He is majoring in Computer Science and Engineering.
Max Waldor, Eagle Scout, Troop 996
The Boy Scouts of America is not affiliated with Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation or this project, and any allowable tax deduction must be taken in the name of the Southwest Orlando Jewish Congregation.