Last Chances to Catch Tzofim’s Friendship Caravan

A few days ago I was blessed to take in the Friendship Caravan, a presentation of Tzofim, a group of Israeli scouts (similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in America).  These are incredible 16-17 year-old Israelis, engaged in service projects and in training to become leaders.  Three teams of 10 are criss-crossing America right now and they are well worth seeing.  Of 80,000 Israeli scouts, 1,200 try out for the opportunity to represent Israel for the summer in North America.  Only 30 are chosen.

If you are in the Phoenix area, you have two last opportunities to catch the Friendship Caravan:

If you live elsewhere in the US, click here to find out if Tzofim will be in your area.

Tzofim: Representing Israel Well!

What a blessing to see young people represent their country so well!  Year-after-year I am blessed by Tzofim, the Israeli Scouts.  These young people are the equivalent to Eagle Scouts in America, and are being groomed as leaders in Israeli society.  The 16 and 17 year olds will enter the IDF soon after they return from their tour of America.

Tzofim is the largest youth organization in Israel, and is dedicated to developing young leaders, instilling Jewish identity (love of Israel and Jewish heritage) and building community by working together for a common cause and serving others.  Of 80,000 current scouts, about 1,200 have the opportunity to audition for only 30 spots (3 teams of 10) on the Friendship Caravan that tours the US and Canada.  To even reach audition stage, the scouts must demonstrate extraordinary service to others and leadership.  These young people are the cream of the crop and are hosted in America by Friends of Israel Scouts.

For several years I have attended at least one of their performances when they make their Phoenix-area swing.  Last night was the night!  The energy and excitement these young people bring is refreshing, and they represent their country so well!  Several have the opportunity to share about their family, their hometown and life in Israel.  They also engage the audience continually throughout the performance, often getting kids involved with them in dancing and high-fiving.

If you are in the Phoenix area, there is still time to catch this fantastic group before they leave town, and I highly recommend you do!  Here is their remaining schedule:

  • Wednesday, June 14 @ 7pm – Temple Chai (4645 E Marilyn Rd, Phoenix)
  • Thursday, June 15 @ 7pm – Temple B’rith Shalom (2077 Brohner Way, Prescott)
  • Monday, June 19 @ 7pm – Temple Solel (6805 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley)
  • Tuesday, June 20 @ 7pm – Temple Kol Ami (15030 N 64th St, Scottsdale)

Unfortunately, photos were difficult to take last night because of the positioning of stage lighting that shined into the camera.  However, below is a short clip of the flag-waving finale from a performance I attended last year.  Enjoy!


Tzofim: You’ve Got to See Them!

Israel Scouts 1

2016 Tzofim Group Performing in Scottsdale

For the past few years I have thoroughly enjoyed unique groups of Israeli young people singing and dancing to the thrill of audiences here in the Phoenix area.  The program is called “Tzofim,” and is similar to Boy and Girl Scouts in America.

Tzofim provides unlimited opportunities to build a better, stronger Israeli society by:

  • Developing positive young leadership
  • Instilling Jewish identity
  • Focusing on community building

In their final year of scouting, these Jewish young people have the opportunity to spend a summer in the United States and Canada, bringing Israeli culture, music and dance, while promoting peace.

Though secular (as are the Boy and Girl Scouts in America), Tzofim is a very impressive Jewish organization.  Read about the incredible opportunities extended to these young people.

Tzofim is coming to Arizona and I strongly recommend taking in one of their performances.  They are free of charge and you will thoroughly enjoy the evening!  Here is their schedule:

  • Sunday, June 11 @ 11am – Temple Beth Shalom (12202 N 101st Ave, Sun City)
  • Sunday, June 11 @ 4pm – Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center (122 E Culver St, Phoenix)
  • Monday, June 12 @ 7pm – Congregation Or Tzion (9096 E Bahia Dr, Scottsdale)
  • Tuesday, June 13 @ 7pm – Beth El Congregation (1118 W Glendale Ave, Phoenix)
  • Wednesday, June 14 @ 7pm – Temple Chai (4645 E Marilyn Rd, Phoenix)
  • Thursday, June 15 @ 7pm – Temple B’rith Shalom (2077 Brohner Way, Prescott)
  • Monday, June 19 @ 7pm – Temple Solel (6805 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley)
  • Tuesday, June 20 @ 7pm – Temple Kol Ami (15030 N 64th St, Scottsdale)

For more information: 480-216-4280

Again, these events are FREE, though most sites will offer a no-pressure means of donating to Tzofim in order to finance their trip.  Jewish congregations are very welcoming, so these are very pleasant opportunities.  A group from my home church will gather to enjoy the show in Glendale on Tuesday, June 13, and you are welcome to join us!  Just show up at Beth El Congregation and meet us in the lobby.  We’ll likely be very noticeable, but if not, ask to be directed to the group from Calvary Community Church.

See you there!


An Encore Delight amidst World Tragedy

Okay, I admit it…I find it difficult to pass up opportunities to take in a “little bit of Israel” when the opportunity presents itself!  Following last Tuesday night’s wonderful presentation of Tzofim (Israel Scouts – see the report here), I invited friends to attend another performance tonight.  Something came up at the last moment and they were unable to attend, but I decided to keep my plans and attend anyway.  I was definitely blessed!

After a week of very tragic news, including terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Orlando, I needed the energetic encouragement that was brought about as I enjoyed Tzofim’s Friendship Caravan.  These Israeli scouts bring such vibrancy and energy as they proudly represent their nation by sharing their stories and joyfully engaging the audience as they sing and dance.  It is a power-packed hour of fun in which audience members can be as involved or uninvolved as they wish.  But trust me…it was difficult for the grouchiest scrouge not to join in, at least to a small degree, as the group sang and danced the Hava Nagila!  Boy, do Israelis know how to have a good time!

Tzofim has several different missions, one is to be ambassadors to America.  In a day and age where the US has not been especially friendly to Israel, the Jewish state continues to befriend and work diligently with Americans to bring unity between the two countries so vastly different, yet somehow much alike.  Israel shares our national values of democracy and freedom, and they share values that we hold dear as Christians (such as family and service to one another).

When I think about Bible prophecy that tells us how utterly alone Israel will be in the end (Joel 3:2, Ezekiel 38-39 and elsewhere), I am reminded that it should not come as a surprise when we see America beginning to turn her back on Israel.  Heartbreaking…yes.  Surprising…no.  It has a bit of a hopeless ring to it, doesn’t it?

In regard to that, I want to toss out a thought I have been mulling recently. In Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus a very important question: “What will be the signs of the last days?”  It took two chapters for Jesus to answer the question, yet I want to focus in on Matthew 24:7.  A key sign of the last days is that nation will rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom.  However, the Greek word for “nation” is actually “ethnos.” What does that sound like?  Ethnic?

When I look at the Middle East today, borders are being erased.  Consider ISIS.  They have no borders, yet they control significant pieces of territory.  Al-Qaeda…same thing.  Likewise, Syria is a mess!  Is it really a nation any more?  Or is it simply a mishmash of rebel groups, terrorists, and followers of a tyrannical dictator, all battling with each other for control of territory?  Even Muslims are split between Sunni and Shi’ite (and a handful of minor sects), at times in the same towns and villages!  Ethnic groups, not nations as we know them, are rising up against ethnic groups.

Now travel with me to Joel 3:2, where God promises judgment upon all nations for how they treat Israel.  Again, though, the Hebrew word for “nations” can mean “inhabitant, tribe, or even heathen people.”  Not necessarily nations with borders.

Because of the chaotic nature of what we see today, I’m often left wondering if there will be nations (as we know them) in the last days.  Just how dramatically will the lines be erased?

But, dear believing friends, while our nation may turn its back on Israel, I don’t believe that predestines Christians to turn their backs on Israel!  While even America will one day (perhaps not so distant!) face judgment for working to divide the land of Israel and scatter her people, I believe there will be true believers who stand with Israel to the very end!  Yes, I long for America to get back on track!  Yes, I am heartbroken when American leaders treat Israel as an ugly step-child.  Yes, I get angry when I see Israel blamed and condemned by the UN and world leaders.  But as a Christian, I can stand with Israel whether or not my nation (or others) do!

Why?  Because we are not citizens of this world!  The Bible says that, as believers, our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)…we are only sojourners (visitors passing through) on a place we call earth!

So, let’s wrap this up!  Last night as I watched the energetic efforts of those young Israeli scouts to reach out in friendship to America, I was reminded that Jews and Christians would do well to stick together!  After all, the rest of the world will forsake Israel, and while I don’t fault Israeli efforts to befriend our nation, I so long for Christians to stand up and be the partner to Israel that God calls us to be!  (Read Romans 11 to discover the true calling of Gentiles in relation to Jews!”)  We are the true friends of Israel!

With that, let me challenge you to enjoy the following 21-second video and imagine a Christian flag in addition to the flags you see there!  Christians, let’s get serious about rightly relating to Israel.  Time is short and America as a whole, and ultimately each of us as individuals, will answer to how we treated God’s chosen people!

Thanks for stopping by!  Shalom!