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THE "TZOFIM" (SCOUTS) IN ISRAEL - FACTS & FIGURES

Founded in 1919, the Tzofim was the first Zionist youth movement in Israel.  Today, the Tzofim is the only official "National Youth Movement" in the country. It was the first egalitarian Scouting movement in the world, where boys and girls participate together on an equal basis.  More than 20 Kibbutzim have been established over the years by Nahal Garinim of the Tzofim. In Israel today, there are over 300,000 Tzofim graduates. Currently, there are over 60,000 Jewish Tzofim and over 25,000 Arab Tzofim.  The number of active Tzofim has grown by over 55% in the last 10 years alone, while almost all other youth movement in the country have greatly decreased in membership. There are over 160 tribes (troops) in almost 100 cities, towns, moshavim and kibbutzim.  Over 1/3 of the Tzofim tribes are located in development towns and challenged neighborhoods.

The national average of high school students completing their matriculation examinations is 43.8%, while over 90% of the Tzofim complete these exams, over twice the national average.  Only 75% of Israeli youth graduate high school (in some towns and neighborhoods the number is as low as 55%) while just under 100% of those active in the Tzofim graduate high school, even in those towns and neighborhoods where the average rate is 55%.

Only 55% of able-bodied 18 year olds in Israel are drafted into the army or complete their military service, while 100% of the Tzofim serve in the army.  Close to one in five Tzofim becomes an officer, with almost all the Tzofim opt to serve in Israel's elite units.  From the founding of the State until today, there has not been a pilot training course without at least 3 Tzofim in the graduating class.  Usually, at least 10% of the course is Tzofim!  

The Tzofim is the first and still the only youth movement in Israel, which actively includes physically and developmentally challenged youth in its activities.  Over the past 7 years, the number of challenged youth has grown from 85 to over 1,000, and from 3 tribes with these special activities, the number has grown to over 35 tribes nationally.

There are over 1,500 youth originating from Ethiopia involved in the Tzofim and this represents close to 10% of the Ethiopian youth at the age of youth activities.  Over the last 5 years, the number of Ethiopian youth in the Tzofim has grown by 1000%, from 150 to 1,500.   Only 42.7% of the Ethiopian youth in high school complete matriculations and only 70% complete their high school studies, while over 85% of these youth in the Tzofim have completed their matriculations and close to 100% have graduated high school.  There are over 3,000 youth from the former Soviet Union involved in the Tzofim.

The Tzofim is the only major youth movement which has religious and secular members and holds joint activities for them in order to build bridges of understanding for over 10,000 Tzofim every year.

In the past year, over 600 Tzofim volunteered to defer their military service by a year in order to volunteer in 54 unique garinim throughout the country, most of which are located in development towns, challenged neighborhoods, and locations with large numbers of new immigrants.  These garinim reach over 50,000 youth every year, providing special services above and beyond regular scouting activities. Thousands of new olim, children from single parent families, and youth with special needs receive educational and cultural assistance through over 1,000 free extra curricular activities run by the members of the garinim.  Over the past year more than 250 tzofim have traveled abroad to work with and/or participate with Jewish youth in the Diaspora in activities and leadership programs.  In addition, over 100,000 people will be reached this year by 30 Tzofim members of 3 Tzofim Friendship Caravans who will perform for 3 months throughout North America, bringing the spirit of Israel and the Tzofim to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences.

Over 1,500 youth in the United States participate in weekly activities of Tzofim Tzabar, the Tzofim branch in the United States, which works with Hebrew speaking youth, offering Tzofim activities very similar to those in Israel.  Over the past 5 years over 120 youth from the United States and Canada, whose families originated in Israel, have returned to Israel through Tzofim Garin Tzabar in which they are reabsorbed into Israeli society and complete their military service, while receiving ongoing help and guidance from Tzofim counselors.

During the past 5 years, the Tzofim have received over 10 national awards for their activities, including the Prime Minister Award for work with youth with special needs, and the Charles Clore award in honor of the Israel Jubilee which was given to Garin Re'im as the outstanding volunteer project in Israel over the first 50 years of the State. 

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