“Arab-Jewish Gap Year” is a year of Arab-Jewish volunteering as part of a collaboration between AJEEC and the Israeli Scouts movement. Its goal is to build true partnership between young Jewish and Arab high school graduates. During the program, the participants share in a process, attend workshops and seminars, and even engage in building a future vision of a shared society between Jews and Arabs, based on social justice and mutual solidarity.
“Arab-Jewish Gap Year” began operating in 2002 in the Negev, and since then has also expanded to the central cities of Ramla and Lod, in collaboration with local organizations. The Jewish participants are recruited directly from the Scouts movement as part of a year of service within the framework of the “Ba’Midbar” (“In the Negev”) troop.
As part of the program, the volunteers work in mixed teams in educational settings in Arab and Jewish society. In each group, the volunteers work with small groups of school students and assist teachers in the educational field. At the same time, the groups hold informal educational activities in schools and with the Shabibat AJEEC youth movement.
Each week, there is a joint learning day for the whole group, which includes professional training, mutual acquaintance with each other’s cultures, and dialogue regarding identities under joint Jewish-Arab facilitation. The dialogue meetings take place with individual identity-group meetings as well as joint, dual identity group meetings. The program includes the acquisition of formal and informal education tools, Arabic studies for Jews, Hebrew studies for Arabs, preparation for academic life for the Arab group, and acquaintance with local community life for the Jewish group.
The meeting between two different ends of the population evokes a dialogue and breaks down walls between the participants of the program. At the end of the year, the participants in the project serve as ambassadors in their communities, stimulating discourse and action among their peers, and promoting AJEEC’s vision of a shared society.