25 September 2010 - 17 Tishri 5771 - י"ז תשרי ה' אלפים תשע"א
Scouts movement to arrive in Hong Kong Print E-mail

10 October will mark the beginning of Tzofim (Scouts) in Hong Kong. Long term Hong Kong resident, Eliad Cohen had the idea to bring scouts when he was looking for social programmes for kids and teens that do not have a religious affiliation.

The core values of scouts include: the development of leadership skills, an understanding of democracy, tolerance and social responsibility, a love for the land of Israel and a strong Jewish identity for kids between the ages of 9 and 18.

The Parent Scout Association (PSA) has established an affiliation to the Tzofim. This relationship started five months ago when Cohen approached the organisation and asked if they would come to Hong Kong.

Members of Tzofim  paid a visit and noticed there was a need they could fill. The organisation will send two leaders named Anna and Yair who were chosen in a long evaluation process in Israel.

They will start with a once a week formal programme on Sunday and other informal activities during the week. Scouts will be a place where kids can go as many times as they want in order to create events for the community and for themselves.

Each week the formal activity or peula will bring kids together indoors or outdoors and the activities will be created around the values of the organisation. It has thousands of activities to choose from and they will tailor the activities to the local community. Gal Ben Shimol, Director of Tzofim International, commented that when a kid comes to “one, two or three activities, I promise you they will stay. Tzofim has a specific way of doing things and in our eyes this is the reason we are so successful. In Israel we have 60,000 scouts and in the rest of the world they have over 5,000.

We have over 45 tribes outside of Israel. It is a lifestyle and not just a weekend day activity.” The organisation has operated for over 90 years.
Riki Shemesh a member of the PSA says, “If you are secular or religious, regardless of your political views you can be part of us. You can be part of a tribe and then you can seek to help and do social responsibility inside and outside the community. It brings everyone to the same table to educate the kids, strengthen Jewish identity, speak about Israel, Zionism and to make the community into a better one through social action. We have received a warm invitation from the community to hold the activities in the Jewish Community Centre and we are still looking for a permanent venue for the tribe.”

During their recent visit representatives met with kids from the community. The organisation already has a Facebook page and they “are bringing infrastructure, knowledge, experience of doing something like this that we don’t have in the existing organisations. Tzofim  knows how to do this best,” said Shemesh.

There will be a membership fee but organisers said that they will make sure every child that wants to be part of the scouts will be able to join. The PSA already has volunteers offering to make the uniforms and the samples are already on site.

Eli Ben Eliyahu, Chairman of the Tzofim , said, “The committee has in their eyes how much they want this to succeed. Tzofim is part of life and will help the community succeed. I can see this and I am sure that next year we’ll have 15 or 16 kids that are going to have a great tribe because the parents and the community are supporting the organisation. There is a passion for Israel and you can feel it in the community. We fell in love with the people and I’m sure it will be a great success.”

(Issue July/August 2010)

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