Israeli Scouts visit Simon Family JCC

by | Jul 12, 2013 | Other News

Scouts perform at the Simon Family JCC.

Scouts perform at the Simon Family JCC.

Ten 17-year-old Israeli Scouts and two leaders visited the Simon Family JCC last month to perform on a Sunday evening and Monday morning for JCC campers.

Each Friendship Caravan of Scouts, or Tzofim, consists of five males and five females. The group that performed in Tidewater is one of four currently touring the East Coast.

The Scouts are all accomplished performers, chosen as much for talent as verve and enthusiasm. Scouts are selected from approximately 1,600 applicants. Auditions are held at the local troop level, and then regional and national cuts are made. The result is 75 teens who either travel or stay in one camp for the summer.

So strong is the commitment to the Scouts that some return to lead a traveling caravan, as did Tamur Arzuan, a 23-year-old who was a Scout six years ago, and returned after serving in the army and working for several years. “The time I had with the Scouts was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” she says. “I wanted to have a chance to be with Scouts again, traveling around the United States and sharing our love of Israel through song and dance. And we happen to have a great group of 17-year-olds in our particular caravan this summer.”

Among those in the caravan is Shaked Knafo, who, like the rest of her companions, missed finals this spring to be in the Scouts. “I’ll make them up in the fall and will have a tough year ahead of me, but it is well worth it,” she says. Knafo, who lived in London for a year with her family, has been to the United States numerous times. “It’s not about what we see as much as being with each other and spending time with campers and communities,” she explains. “We are a big family of 10 kids and two leaders, and traveling in our van from place to place and then staying with host families is as much fun as performing.”

From setting up the stage for each performance, performing several shows, stage break down and long drives, the routine seems exhausting, especially for an entire summer, but the Scouts remain enthusiastic, even after their performances. They all seem equally passionate about showing their audiences what their country is all about, sharing Israeli song and dance, and inspiring inquisitive people to visit Israel.

Asked how the summer has been a life changer, Knafo says it has made her a young adult overnight. “It’s about time management, having to pack up, travel and be responsible day in and day out,” she says. “But when I’m on stage singing and dancing to pop tunes, I can still feel like a kid.”

by Leslie Shroyer