The Scouts are returning to town

by | Apr 8, 2016 | Other News

One scout can make a difference, but together they can rock the world.

Each year, two scouts from Tzofim, Israel are selected to live in Virginia Beach and work at the JCC Summer Camp as counselors. This program offers the scouts an opportunity to understand the American Jewish community lifestyle while exposing campers to Israeli culture. Throughout the summer, bonds are forged, cultural customs are shared, and eyes are opened to new experiences.

The two scouts selected to rock the world of Virginia Beach in 2016 are Michal Ben Ari, and Neta Mendes.

Michal Ben Ari, a 17-year-old from Binyamina, a small town between Haifa and Tel-Aviv, is the third of four children. The daughter of Nili, a graphic designer, and Shlomi, the CEO of a high tech company that has innovated a medical device that monitors brain injuries, Ben Ari is as creative and ambitious as her parents.

Ben Ari enjoys spending time with her mother and father, older sister and two brothers. Her Israeli roots date back to the “pioneers” who built the first settlements in Israel, and she honors her heritage by exploring Israel by foot. This form of travel comes easy to this young woman whose long distance running high school team made it to the Israeli championship. She enjoys writing and is currently the young reporter of the Israeli Scouts movement.

On her favorite aspects of being a scout, Ben Ari says, “I like the creative part. There are a lot of ways to create [bridges] between our branch and the community.” This athlete and budding writer says she is excited to broaden her horizons, and make connections during her stay in the States.

Neta Mendes is also 17 years old, and hails from Oranit, a small town outside of Tel Aviv. Mendes is the middle of three children, and daughter of a military father and a mother in the education field.

At school, this bright student focuses on chemistry and computer programing. She takes part in Nashon, a special project the Israeli army supports which provides her class with the weekly opportunity to attend lectures and activities on a wide range of subjects. This experienced counselor is currently head of counseling staff of a sixth grade scout troop.

Like Ben Ari, Mendes is no stranger to travel. When she was 14 years old, her family lived in India for one year.

“This experience taught me many things about being Israeli and about myself,” she says. Traveling to Virginia Beach will be another chance for Mendes to learn more about herself as she discovers all Tidewater offers.

In addition to these scouts, the Tzofim Caravan will return to perform on August 3 at the Simon Family JCC. Members of the Tzofim Caravan travel across the United States bringing their gifts of music and dance to communities throughout the summer.

Those interested in housing an Israeli Scout for one or two weeks, or members of the Tzofim Caravan for one to two nights, should contact Alicia Kraus at or 757-321-2323.

Providing these students with a home away from home is a great mitzvah.

by Gaby Grune