Nelson Block created a weekly commentary on the Torah, Derech Tsofeh, which he has maintained for the past five years.
The commentaries are written by him and contributors that he solicits and are published in America on the National Jewish Committee on Scouting website and throughout the world on the Interational Forum of Jewish Scouts website.
The commentaries have been written as a guide for Scouts around the world and have enhanced their understanding and relationship with the Torah.
Nelson Block has also been a force promoting peace on an international basis for youth since 1971, when in college he co-chaired the Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium at Johns Hopkins University on US/Soviet relations. The Eisenhower Symposium included almost 20 of the leading figures from the then-waning Cold War, including:
Dr. G. A. Arbatov, director, Institute of the USA Academy of Sciences, USSR
Dr. John Kenneth Galbraith, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Lt. Gen. James M. Gavin, U.S. Army (ret.), former ambassador to France
The Hon. W. Averell Harriman, former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union
Dr. Samuel P. Huntington, professor of government, Harvard University
The Hon. Mike Mansfield, majority leader, U.S. Senate
V. A. Matveyev, associate editor and chief political analyst for Izvestia
Harrison E. Salisbury, assistant managing editor, New York Times and Pulitzer Prize winner
The Symposium was carried on PBS.
Alamo Area Council, San Antonio
1959-1962 Cub Scout – earned Webelos and Arrow of Light
1962-1969 Troop 9, Congregation Agudas Achim Brotherhood – Patrol Leader,
Quartermaster, Senior Patrol Leader, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster,
1964 National Jamboree, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania – Patrol Leader
1966 Eagle Scout
1963-1969 Aina Topa Hutsi, WWW 60, Order of the Arrow
- Chapter Chief, District One (1966-1967)
- Lodge Third Vice Chief (1967-1968)
- Lodge Chief (1969)
- Vigil Honor (1968)
1969-1971 Order of the Arrow, Region IX, Area IX-D, Deputy Conference Chief
Alamo Area Council, San Antonio
1969-1976 College Scouter Reserve; Council Commissioner staff
1973 Aina Topa Hutsi, Order of the Arrow
– wrote and illustrated Lodge Manual
Sam Houston Area Council
1979-1980 Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 52, Jewish Community Center of Houston
1980-present Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 806, Temple Beth Israel Brotherhood
(500 Scouts in 35 years; 129 Eagle Scouts) (co-founded troop)
1980-present Merit Badge Counselor for 19 merit badges
(have counseled approximately 350 Scouts)
1979-present Member, Council Jewish Committee on Scouting – Camp Chief,
Jewish Retreats (1986-1991; 2008); staff of all 14 Jewish Retreats
1984-1986 Co-founder and first Chairman, Sam Houston Chapter, National Eagle
1986-1997 Cubmaster, Pack 806, Temple Beth Israel Brotherhood (100 Cubs) (co-
1984-1986 Council Advisory Board
1987-present Council Board of Directors
1988-present Council Executive Committee
1988-present Legal Counsel (pro-bono, $1.5 million of volunteer legal services)
1989 Founder, “Diamond Hitch Museum,” traveling Scout museum to bring
Scouting history to Scouts and Scouters
1996 and 1998 Council Contingent Leader and Crew Advisor, Philmont Trek
1997 to 2001 Crew (Post) Committee Member, Crew (Post) 125
1998 to 2001 Scoutmaster, Troop 1125 (founded troop) (2 Eagle Scouts)
2011 Member, Advisory Committee, SHAC Jam – Council outdoor event for BSA centennial, with 27,400 attending. Arranged visit of Gillian Clay, Lord Baden-Powell’s granddaughter, and hosted her for a week.
Region IX, South Central Region and Southern Region
1972-1973 Area IX-D and Section SC III-B, Order of the Arrow – Publications Advisor
1983-1986 Developed “Texas Award” for Boy Scouts – researched, wrote, edited and
illustrated pamphlet – used in many Texas councils (approx. 5,000 awarded to date)
1986 Developed “Texas Badge” for Cub Scouts – used in many Texas councils (approx. 35,000 awarded to date)
1989-present Region Advisory Board and Region Board
1989-1991 Region Executive Committee
1991-2000 Region Trust Fund Trustee
1992-1995 Camp Visitation Chairman, Area 1
1992-1993 Region Vice President – Relationships
1993-1996 Region Chairman, National Eagle Scout Association
1999-2001 Region Camping Chairman
1985 Coordinator for filming in Houston for promotional movie, “My Son the
Scout,” National Jewish Committee on Scouting
1988 – 2015 Staff, National Order of the Arrow Conference
– Administrative Services, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004
– Founder and chairman, Lodge History Competition, 1994 – 2002
– Speaker/trainer, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015
1989-present Member, National Council, representing Sam Houston Area Council
1990 Special Task Force on Cub Scout Camping
1993 Speaker, Relationships Workshop, National Meeting
1998 Speaker, Risk Management Workshop, National Meeting
2001 Speaker, OA Adviser Training, Philmont
2009-present Speaker, BSA National Speaker’s Bureau
2010-2013 Member, National Order of the Arrow Committee
2010-present Member, National Jewish Committee on Scouting
2011 Staff, SummitCorps, Week IV
2013 Duty Officer, Program HQ staff, National Jamboree (responsible for finding solutions to facilities and logistical problems in all Program areas)
2013-present Member, National Scouting Museum Committee
1988-present Member, Baden-Powell World Fellowship
1990-2000 Founder and Publisher, The Journal of Scouting History
1992‑present Managing Trustee, The “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt Trust – the Trust has contributed to the National Council, BSA, and other non-profit organizations for the study and training of people engaged in youth development.
2002 The Founder Gilwell Fellow, title conferred by George W. Purdy, CBE, the Chief Scout of The Scout Association (United Kingdom) for service as “a renowned Scout historian who has been significantly influential over many years in contributing to the research, analysis and positioning of the history of Gilwell and UK Scouting in the world of international academic study.”
2007 International Service Team, Deputy Manager, Gilwell Discovery Zone, 21st World Scout Jamboree, England
2012 – present Write a weekly d’var Torah (word of Torah), “Derech Tsofeh – The Path of the Scout” for Jewish Scouts, appearing on two Facebook pages and the webpages of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting and the International Fellowship of Jewish Scouts. Recognized by leaders of Jewish and non-Jewish national and international Scout committees, and supported by guest sermonettes by distinguished rabbis.
2016 Advisory Committee, Inter-American Leadership Training Conference, World Organization of the Scout Movement, Houston, Texas
1983 Scout Basic Adult Leader Training
1986 Commissioner Basic Adult Leader Training
1986 Cub Basic Adult Leader Training
1986 Scoutmaster’s Special Indoor Training with Bill Hillcourt
1990 Relationships in the Jewish Community (Philmont)
1990 Wood Badge SC-394
1992 Assistant Course Director, Wood Badge SC-439
1998 Explorer Basic Adult Leader Training
1983 Shofar Award, National Jewish Committee on Scouting
1984 Scouter’s Training Award
1984 Golden Arrow District “Godfather” Award
1986 Scouter’s Key
1986 Silver Beaver Award
1987 District Award of Merit
1988 Den Leader Award
1990 Cub Scouter’s Award
Tiger Cub Leader’s Award
1991 Cubmaster Award
1994 Webelos Den Leader Award
Silver Antelope Award
Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award
1999 Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
1999 Sam Houston Area Council class of 805 Eagle Scouts named the “Nelson
R. Block Class” of Eagle Scouts
1999 Scoutmaster’s Award of Merit
2011 National Speaker’s Bureau Award
2011 Order of the Arrow Founders Award – Colonneh WWW 137
2015 Order of the Arrow Centurion Award – Aina Topa Hutsi WWW 60
2017 Silver Buffalo Award
Work in the History of Scouting
In 2002, W. George Purdy, CBE, Chief Scout of the United Kingdom, awarded Nelson the title The Founder Gilwell Fellow, describing him as “a renowned Scout historian who has been significantly influential over many years in contributing to the research, analysis and positioning of the history of Gilwell [Park] and UK Scouting in the world of international academic study.”
A former Dean of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University and past president of the Society for the History of Children and Youth called Nelson the “dean of Scout historians”.
I. Books (Author, Editor or Publisher)
A Thing of the Spirit: The Life of E. Urner Goodman (Boy Scouts of America 2000). Author. The biography of the founder of the Order of the Arrow.
Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century. Co-editor, with Prof. Tammy M. Proctor (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2009). (Collection of the papers presented at the Johns Hopkins University program, “Scouting: A Centennial History Symposium”). This book was featured at the Smithsonian Institution in July 2010.
Bound in Brotherhood: The Order of the Arrow Centennial Scrapbook. co-author, with William H. Topkis (Boy Scouts of America 2015). A visual history of the Order of the Arrow.
Building of a Life, by E. Urner Goodman (Boy Scouts of America 2015). Autobiography of the founder of the Order of the Arrow. Editor (without attribution) of the 2015 Centennial Edition, and author of timeline in that edition.
Aids to Scouting for N.C.O.’s and Men, by R.S.S. Baden-Powell (The Journal of Scouting History, 1993). Publisher of the reprint edition of the book that gave Baden-Powell the idea for Boy Scouting; author of the Introduction, which traces Baden-Powell’s writing and publishing that let to this book. Included in the bibliography, Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell: Catalogo Bibliografico complete delle opere in italiano e inglese (Bologna: Biblioteca Frati Minor Cappuccini 2007).
Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero, by William Hillcourt (Boy Scouts of America 2008). Arranged the licensing of this edition by the “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt trust and its publication by BSA, and authored the biographical essay added to it, “Green Bar Bill”: The Story of William Hillcourt.
“Ernest Thompson Seton and the Founding of the Order of the Arrow,” The Journal of Scouting History, no. 1, Feb. 1990. An investigation into Seton’s influence on the founders of the Order of the Arrow.
“The Model Scout of the World,” The Journal of Scouting History, No. 2, Dec. 1990 (published under the name of The Editors). This article, a brief biography of William Hillcourt, was revised and reprinted under the name “Green Bar Bill: The Life of William Hillcourt” as an appendix to the BSA reprint of Hillcourt’s book, Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero (Boy Scouts of America 2009).
“The Origins of the Scout Uniform,” The Journal of Scouting History, No. 2, Dec. 1990. Discusses how the Boy Scout uniform came into being.
“E. Urner Goodman’s Place in Scouting History,” The Journal of Scouting History, No. 3, May 1991. An historical essay about the founder of the Order of the Arrow.
“The Founding of Wood Badge,” published by the British Scout Association and distributed at the 75th Anniversary Gilwell Reunion, 1994. A one-page version of the article appeared on the back of the Wood Badge Certificate used in Britain for many years. An expanded version will appear as an appendix to the second edition of History of Wood Badge in the United States, by Kenneth P. Davis (Boy Scouts of America, forthcoming 2015).
“Brownsea: The Experimental Boy Scout Camp,” Scouter’s Journal, no. 3, December 1995. A revised version has been given out at the Brownsea Island site at National Jamborees since 1997.
“Boy Scouts,” article in The Handbook of Texas, Volume 1, Texas State Historical Association, 1996.
“From Days of Baden-Powell: A Short History of the Boy Scouts,” Houston Chronicle, Supplement, February 8, 1998, 4.
E. Urner Goodman: A Sketch of His Life. An 11 page biographical essay, published by BSA in 1998 as part of the Order of the Arrow’s “Goodman Portfolio”.
“Scouting’s Centennial: Insights on 100 Years of Adventure,” Vital Speeches of the Day Vol. 73, No. 5 (May, 2007), 203-05, republished in American Speaker (September 2007), 21-31.
“A Well Where Others May Drink: 100 Years of Scouting History,” Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2009), 2-11.
“Conclusion: The Future of Scout History,” Scouting Frontiers: Youth and the Scout Movement’s First Century (Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2009), 223-225 (with Tammy A. Proctor).
“Looking at Our Next Century From Our First Century,” Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. LXXVII, No. 7 (July, 2011), 264-266.
“Every Boy a Hero: A Core Idea of Scouting,” Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. LXXVIII, No. 7 (July, 2012), 230-233.
III. Short Pieces, Op-Eds and Book Reviews
Book Review of Baden-Powell: A Family Album by Heather Baden-Powell, in The Journal of Scouting History, Vol. 1, Feb. 1990.
“Legends in Our Time,” book review of The Brotherhood of Cheerful Service: A History of the Order of the Arrow, by Kenneth P. Davis, in The Journal of Scouting History, Vol. 3, May 1991.
“Be with Us ‘til We Meet Again,” memorial to William Hillcourt, in Bridges and Trails (newsletter of the National Scouting Museum), 1993, No. 1.
“Jamboreeing with Green Bar Bill,” memorial to William Hillcourt, in Bridges and Trails, 1993, No. 1.
“Boy Scouts: A Century of Promoting Virtue,” Christian Science Monitor, February 8, 2010. http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0208/Boy-Scouts-a-century-of-promoting-virtue
“Eagle Scout title opens doors of opportunity,” Houston Business Journal, April 30, 2010, 57A.
“Ernest Thompson Seton Centennial,” High Country, Vol. 34, No. 1, (January 2011).
“Royal Scouting,” film review of The King’s Speech, High Country, Vol. 34, No. 3 (June 2011), 24-5.
“Open Letter to the BSA National Executive Committee,” August 24, 2012, scribd.com. This posting discussing BSA’s policies on membership for gay and lesbian members and readers has received more than 6,300 “reads”.
Consulted with Prof. Elleke Boehmer during her work on the annotated edition of Scouting for Boys (Oxford University Press 2003).
Co-chair (with Prof. Matthew A. Crenson and Prof. Tammy M. Proctor) of “Scouting: A Centennial History Symposium,” February 15-16, 2008, Johns Hopkins University. Thirty scholars from 10 countries participated in discussions of world-wide Scouting history.
As managing trustee of The “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt Foundation, successor to the “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt Trust, worked with the Trust to sponsor panels on Scouting history at the American Historical Association annual convention (New York, January 2015) and the Society for the History of Children and Youth annual convention (Vancouver, June 2016) and the forthcoming convention (Rutgers University, June 2017).
NON SCOUTING POSITIONS
1976-1977 Law Clerk, 14th Court of Civil Appeals, Houston
1977-2001 Sheinfeld, Maley & Kay, P.C., attorneys – Shareholder and Chairman,
Business Section (1997-2001)
2001‑present Winstead PC, attorneys – Shareholder, Finance & Banking Practice Group
1979-present State Correspondent for Texas, Selden Society
(promotes the study of early English law)
1981-present Speaker at continuing legal education seminars (national, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas) and author of numerous articles on topics in lending and real estate law
1981-1983 Chairman, State Bar of Texas Uniform Commercial Code Committee
1989-2015 Founder and Chairman, Houston Commercial Finance Lawyer’s Forum
1991 Author, Chapter 40, “Contractual Subordination” in vol. 3, Commercial
Law Manual published by Matthew Bender & Co.
1997-present Fellow and Regent (2000-2004), American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers
Present listed in various editions of Who’s Who in America, Best Lawyers in America, and Who’s Who in American Law; listed by Texas SuperLawyers as one of Houston’s top 100 lawyers in 2006
1976-present Member, United Orthodox Synagogues
1978-present Associate member, Hadassah
1978-1993 Illustrator for Noah’s Ark, A Newspaper for Jewish Children (
International circulation – 350,000)
2005-2006 Chair, Cardozo Society, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston
2005-2009 Member, City of Houston Land Redevelopment Committee
2005 Volunteer Special Assistant to the Houston Mayor’s Office, under the Director of Health Policy, coordinating pharmacy and administrative matters during the Hurricane Katrina and Rita Emergency (thanked by Mayor Bill White at a special reception, December 2009).
1981-present Pro bono legal counsel to several Jewish schools, synagogues and clergy
NON SCOUTING RECOGNITIONS
Gates of Jerusalem Medal, Wisconsin Israel Bond organization
Bernie Pearlman Businessman of the Year, Appleton, Wisconsin
1973 B.A., The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore)
– Co-Chair, 1971 Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium
- University Honor Council (1971-1973), Vice Chair (1972-1973)
- Varsity Seal Award for outstanding service to the University (1972)
1976 J.D., University of Texas School of Law (Austin)
Born: San Antonio, Texas 1951
Married: Linda Freedman Block, 1976 (den leader – 10 years);
active in Hadassah (former Houston chapter president) and Jewish Federation of Greater Houston
Children: Adam, Brian and Jordan – all Eagle Scouts, Philmont trekkers and OA members. Each married with children.