The Circles of Existence project was first organized by The Israel Boy and Girl Scout Federation during 2011 and 2012 in order to empower youth to deal with diversity within the Israeli society and to engage in intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.
Israel, much like its Scout Federation, is made up of individuals from various religious and cultural groups. This pluralism together with the delicate political situation in Israel and the Middle East make it liable to tensions within and between communities.
The project seeks to encourage tolerance, cooperation and friendship between Arab and Jewish Scouts and Scout communities, and build a foundation for mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence also reaching beyond Scout communities. It does so by organizing gatherings of several ‘circles of existence’ groups. In 2011-2012 the project involved approximately 480 participants. Scouts belonging to different religious or cultural groups and associations are represented in every circle.
The Scouting Method and Scouting activities (such as hiking together) are used to encourage communication and cooperation between Scouts from different backgrounds. Learning about each other’s cultures, customs, ways of living and ideologies, among other aspects, is central to the project. Increasing mutual understanding is facilitated by interpersonal experiences.
The project creates a space for interpersonal encounters between youth from different groups, which enables young people to connect and relate to individuals from other groups than their own and consequently develop feelings of solidarity and friendship across boundaries. Encountering diversity on an interpersonal level and in the Scouting setting can encourage inter-religious dialogue and learning between Scouts from Jewish, Druze, Christian Catholic, Christian Orthodox and Muslim groups. What is more, through personal experiences and increased understanding, participants can become ambassadors of peaceful coexistence and extend the project’s impact to the wider community.
This project was supported by the Messengers of Peace Support Fund.