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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


May 18, 2018  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Israeli ‘Friendship Caravan’ to display talents at 2 shows

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

The Israeli Scout Caravan The Israeli Scout Caravan Much like in the United States, they have Scouts in Israel, and next month a group (they call it a Caravan) of them will make two visits in Pinellas County.

Unlike most American Scout groups, the Tzofim Friendship Caravan will offer performances akin to a variety show as they share their musical, singing and dancing talents and sprinkle in stories about life in Israel.

Their first visit in Pinellas this year will be at Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg where they will entertain folks of all ages on Thursday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. The public is invited to this free event and light refreshments will be served. The synagogue is located at 300 58th St. N. in St. Petersburg.

On Friday, June 15 at 2 p.m. the caravan will perform for the Jewish Community Camp housed at Temple B’nai Israel, 1685 S. Belcher Road, Clearwater. This free event is also open to the public as well as to kids in the summer camp sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

There are different scout groups in Israel that send caravans abroad, all part of a mission to serve as goodwill ambassadors from Israel, making friendships and building bonds between Americans and Israelis. The group that has been making frequent summer visits to this area is the Tzofim organization. Founded in 1919, it was the first Zionist youth movement in pre-state Israel and today it is the largest scout group in Israel with 80,000 active members and 180 chapters/troops in various cities, towns, moshavim and kibbutzim.

Just like American scouts, the Israeli scouts start young – around age 10 – and participate in regular meetings, attending camps and taking on projects to help others while earning badges. But when the Israeli Scouts, reach age 16 or 17, select ones are chosen to be members of the Caravan based on their maturity, fluency in English, and of course their talent in the performing arts. After several rounds of competitive auditions and interviews, the scouts spend a year training and rehearsing for their exciting summer in North America.

Traditionally each caravan has 10 teen members and two counselors in their 20s. This year one teen is not able to make this trip, but among those coming, all are quite notable.

Each teen enjoys working with younger scouts in their homeland, mentoring them and sharing a positive attitude. Most of those coming here have older brothers or sisters serving in Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and several have apparently inherited their love for music, song or acting from their parents. One girl, Shai, is the daughter of the CEO of SodaStream International whose bio also notes that her dad has been a longtime cantor at a synagogue in Cincinnati, where Shai and her singer/songwriter mom got to join him on the bima for the High Holidays.

Shai is not the only one who has already visited the United States. Sharon visited the Grand Canyon and Universal Studios on a trip to America and a boy, Amir, lived in California for three years when he was younger and his dad got transferred to a job there.

All the caravan members said they are eager to share their talents, stories, culture and values with Americans in hopes of forming strong bonds.

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