The Northeast Tzofim Friendship Caravan returned to Ottawa last month for two fun and energetic performances at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre (SJCC).
The Tzofim performed for the public on the evening of July 12 and for children attending JCC Summer Day Camps on the morning of July 13.
Tzofim (Israel Scouts) is the largest Zionist youth movement in Israel, involving more than 95,000 children and teenagers in over 200 troops throughout Israel. The first Tzofim Caravan came to North America to sing and dance in 1973, and there are now three different Caravans travelling across North America each summer.
This year the program is celebrating 70 years of the State of Israel and 45 years of the Friendship Caravan.
Each Caravan is made up of five girls and five boys, all of whom are Tzofim carefully selected based on their fluency in English, maturity, and talent in the performing arts. The Tzofim spend a year training and rehearsing for their summer in North America.
At the SJCC, the Tzofim sang and danced to a diverse array of Israeli and pop songs, such as “Shir HaTzofim,” “Jerusalem in our Hearts,” and even the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”
The Tzofim had the audience clapping and dancing along to the music throughout the show. During each song, a few of the performers would come off the stage into the audience to interact with children and get people dancing. In between songs, the Tzofim shared their experiences of growing up in different parts of Israel.
Shir Zohar, one of the performers, said the Caravan is travelling across North America for three months, performing one or two shows per day and staying with host families each night. She said the Caravan’s goal is to pass on their values to Jews in Canada and the United States.
“The main thing is to talk to people and show them that Israel is a fun place,” she said. Zohar also encouraged people to support the Caravan by buying T-shirts and CDs or by making a donation.
Tair Atias, one of the two leaders of the Northeast Tzofim Friendship Caravan, said the Tzofim mission is to tell the story of Israel and its “wonderful diversity” through their own eyes.
“Over the years this amazing project has touched thousands of people all around the world, and there is no doubt it has had a huge impact on the special bond between North America and Israel,” he said.
“The community loves them and they bring such enthusiasm, spirit and passion about Israel,” said concert organizer Ella Dagan, manager of the Vered Israel Cultural and Educational Program at the SJCC. “Each group is different and it gets more and more exciting each time.”