Saturday, July 26, 2014

Israeli ‘Friendship Caravan’ makes stop in Valley

Performance at Jewish Community Center in W-B part of summer North American tour

August 06. 2013 11:50PM
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WILKES-BARRE — The Tzofim Israeli Scout “Friendship Caravan” stopped in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday night to promote Israeli culture through song and dance.

The caravan is comprised of five Girl Scouts, five Boy Scouts and two group leaders from Israel who spend the summer traveling around the U.S. and Canada to teach about life in Israel and their quest for peace through entertainment.

In order to be selected, the 10 Israeli Scouts went through a selective process and were chosen based on their maturity, fluency in English and performance skills.

When Avia Kune, 15, was accepted into the caravan, she knew what the program entailed but “could not imagine it.”

“It has made me discover myself, my new friends and discover Israel in the U.S.,” Kune said.

The 10 Scouts performed as a part of the William and Ethel Winkler Concert at the Wilkes-Barre Jewish Community Center; the event was hosted by the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The JCA has hosted the Israeli Scouts for more than 20 years.

“In bringing the community together for programming, it is important that we teach about Israel using this unique song, dance and story,” said Barbara Sugarman, adult and cultural director at the JCC.

As “ambassadors of goodwill,” the teen Scouts have a desire to share their love for Israel with others. They did just that during their 45-minute show Tuesday night in front of around 90 people.

The educational show was full of songs and prayers — in Hebrew, Yiddish and English — and dancing. Temor Shmuel, 17, said that although sometimes the audience does not understand the language in which the performers are singing, they always understand the emotion. “Music is a different language that everyone speaks,” Shmuel said.

Kune said that when she sees audience members smile or cry, she knows what she is doing is worth it.

“They love us, and you can feel it,” she said.

The group of teens that make up the Southeast Friendship Caravan has performed more than 80 shows on this tour in states including North Carolina, Maryland, Florida, Georgia and Texas. “Each state is amazing in their own way,” Shmuel said.

The Friendship Caravan has only eight more days in the United States, and Shmuel said that during the past three months the members have become more than a caravan. “None of us knew each other, and now we are family,” he said.

Kune said in addition to becoming friends with each other, their goal is to create friendships between the caravan and the people in the states. “We make friends, we meet people. We show Israel in a different light,” she said.

After staying with host families Tuesday night, the Israeli Scouts will perform today at the JCA Day camp before traveling to Philadelphia.

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