The Hebrew Scouts in Israel (Tzofim)
The Tzofim movement has over 55,000 members who are active in 160 troops throughout Israel, from Kiryat Shmona in the north to Eilat in the south. About one third of the Tzofim troops are located in development areas and distressed neighborhoods, where they help encourage local leadership and increase integration among youths in the country.
The movement is divided into eight regions, called ôleaderships,ö which also include the Sea Scouts, the Religious Scouts, and troops of children with special needs.
The Hebrew Scouts is a Zionistic, state-sanctioned youth movement whose goal is to establish and develop educational-moral frameworks for children and teens, who are active throughout the country in a variety of experiential social activities providing them with personal development, recreation, and enjoyment.
The movement is administered by a combination of volunteers and professionals who are committed to the worldview and virtues of scouting.
Educational activity in the Scouts movement focuses on values of society and friendship, giving and social involvement, and democratic communal living, all with an emphasis on personal initiative, leadership and excellence, familiarity with nature, love of the land of Israel, and environmental conservation.
The movement encourages its scouts to shape a meaningful Israeli-Jewish identity that integrates the colorful heritage of the Jewish people with all its various ethnic groups, Israeli culture, and the evolving experience in the State of Israel.
The Scouts movement urges its graduates to benefit society by volunteering for a Service Year before enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces and, when they do go in the army, to join units and positions that maximize their talents and abilities, and following their army service, to lead orderly, productive lives as a central, significant factor in constantly improving the quality of Israeli society.
The movement belongs to the World Organization of the Scout Movement, and works in cooperation with the other scouting associations as part of the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation.
History and Structure:
The Hebrew Scouts Federation in Israel was founded in 1919 in Tel Aviv and Haifa as the first Jewish youth movement in the Land of Israel.
The Tzofim movement is a non-partisan, state-sanctioned movement that instills the social and national values represented in the educational laws of the state in both the general and the religious sectors.
Tzofim is the only movement whose activity is protected by state law ľ the ôScouts Decreeö (new version) 5739-1978. Another unique feature of the movement is being the only nonpartisan movement among all the youth movements in Israel, and therefore not supported by any one political party.
The Tzofim movement has eight regions ľ leaderships ľ spread throughout Israel. Each leadership is responsible for the troops in its jurisdiction. This responsibility is educational, administrative, and safety-oriented.
The troops function in the format of twice-weekly meetings on set days and hours (usually Tuesdays and Fridays or Saturdays). The movement runs training programs in various realms that are recognized by the Ministry of Education. The permanent activity deals with scouting heritage and service to the community, activities that put the Scoutsĺ fundamental educational value of volunteerism into practice. Such education is expressed later on through meaningful military service and upholding the spirit of volunteerism as a civilian in society.
Besides the routine activities in the troop are special activities such as Scouting Day, nature trips, cultural activities, etc.
The movement calendar regularly includes nationwide activities: Hanukah trips, summer camps and movement courses
Unique Activity Sectors:
1. Derech Hemshech ľ Continuation Path (after 12th grade) for Tzofim movement graduates. Most of the Derech Hemshech channels are through the voluntary Service Year and require deferring military service by one year. The movement graduate undergoes a process of learning and practical personal experience in adult life. Part of fulfilling this experience is making a personal contribution during Service Year and other group frameworks. The Tzofim movement views active, effective social involvement as one of its main educational objectives, and so encourages its members to take part in national social activism while belonging to the movement through 12th grade and later on as adults.
The Continuation Path fulfillment channels fall into three realms:
a. Community and society ľ Activity in areas of national priority: Setting up a new Tzofim troop in a community, developing local leadership, overseeing and personally mentoring neighborhood children, ongoing activity with local youths and social tasks in the community, such as helping with immigrant integration.
b. Educational and training in the movement ľ Active involvement in training and coordinating Tzofim troops.
c. Settlement ľ Military service as part of a Nachal garin (core group) or Service Year on a young kibbutz.
2. Sea Scouts ľ Tzofim specializing in naval activity and qualifying youths for leadership at sea.
Five troops of sea scouts are currently operative along Israelĺs coastline. Around a thousand members aged 12-18 participate in this framework. The naval work program is divided into ranks that incorporate movement educational activity as is customary in the movement, as part of the local leadership to which the Sea Scouts troop belongs. Therefore, it works out that through the naval activity the member also undergoes movement educational activity even in the professional stages that in themselves provide many educational lessons.
The Sea Scouts hold national events each year, including: a 21-day national naval camp through the boarding school, long-distance boat rides off the shores of Israel and other countries (Egypt, the Greek isles, Turkey). Sailing courses for fleet commanders, at the end of which participants pass a test to receive a certificate from the Ministry of Transportation.
Sea Scouts activity also includes sea sports such as windsurfing and speedboats. It has close ties with the Naval Corps and many of its graduates go on to integrate in one of the corpsĺ diverse activities.
3. Religious Scouts ľ Tzofim whose members are pupils in the religious-national educational system in Israel
The Religious Scouts are an indivisible part of the Tzofim movement, but its starting point is the Jewish commandments and Halacha. All the movement principles and the scouting experience are firmly grounded in this basis and adapted to it with the goal of integrating rather than being aloof. The Religious Scouts makes it possible for members to maintain Jewish tradition while upholding a pluralistic and tolerance approach, with constant dialogue with the other scouts troops.
4. Special projects ľ The Scouts movementĺs involvement in and contribution to Israeli society and the community in which each troop is active. Examples:
a. Integrating Ethiopian and CIS new immigrants in movement activities ľ At present preparations are being completed for a training project for young leaders from these groups, who will serve as counselors for children and teens in their communities.
b. Integrating special-needs children ľ The Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa Tzofim leaderships undertook to include special-ed kids in their ongoing scouting activity, adapted according to their particular requirements. These Tzofim members even joined their respective leadershipsĺ summer camps for a few days with great success.
c. Ongoing service activities ľ Many troops all over Israel assume ongoing service projects for institutions or organizations in need of assistance from young people.
d. Events emphasizing significant service in the IDF ľ Endeavors such as Hanukah trips and battalion headsĺ courses encourage significant IDF service while fortifying values of volunteerism. They include meetings with commanders and soldiers, watching drills, etc. This project is done in cooperation with the army, the Youth Department and the Nachal ľ Ministry of Defense.
Currently, a new project is getting off the ground ľ ôCommunity Officers Trackö the goal of which is to enable Tzofim movement graduates to join a combat service track along with a Service Year, in order to coordinate a scout troop as part of the military service and subsequently attend an officersĺ course.
e. Service Year in the community ľ A year of service in development towns and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Participants are scouts who defer their army service by one year and devote that year to doing community and social work in a community and fostering local leadership there. The core group members live in the community, integrate in its everyday life and perform various tasks according to local needs (afternoon clubs, community center activities, helping senior citizens, and so forth). The core group members also run the communityĺs scout troop.
5. Movement activity abroad ľ The Tzofim movement has been active since 1977 with Tzofim troops for the children of Israelis living abroad for prolonged periods. These troops are united under the ôTzabarö leadership and are actually an integral part of the Tzofim movement in Israel. In recent years we have seen a significant rise in Tzabar activities, as detailed below.
a. Defined target population (children of Israelis living in North America, aged 10-19).
b. Use of only the Hebrew language.
c. Authentic Israeli identity (program contents, uniform, emblems, ceremonies, etc. of the Tzofim movement ľ all with an Israeli flavor).
d. Fulfillment tracks for movement graduates ľ return to Israel and enlistment in the IDF.
Goal of activity:
Providing an educational framework for the children of Israelis abroad, to strengthen their Israeli-Jewish identity, help them maintain contact with the Israeli-Zionist culture and the State of Israel, and provide tools for members of the upper grades to cope with the question of returning to Israel.
For the past six years the Tzofim movement has supplied support, supervision and help in making preparations for 18-year-old Tzabar graduates who are interested in going back to Israel and serving in the IDF. Those who decide to make aliyah are given personalized guidance. Upon arriving in Israel they are hooked up with a kibbutz (pre-arranged) and proceed with four months of educational activity. At the end of that period they go in the army, each according to his choice and suitability. Over 120 Tzabar members have participated in the project over the past six years. The first four core groups have already completed their military service and many of their members have remained in Israel.
6. Membership in the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation ľ The Hebrew Scouts Association is a member of the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation, which unites six different scouting organizations:
The Hebrew Scouts Movement in Israel
The Arab Schools Scouts Association
The Druze Scouts Association
The Orthodox Scouts Association
The Arab Scouts Association in Israel (Muslims)
This partnership expresses the movementĺs activities in a wide range of population groups representing all of Israeli society.
The Hebrew Scouts movement, through its membership in the Israel Boy and Girl Scouts Federation, is a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement and is fully committed to its principles.