Friends Forever is a program based in the U.S. that aims to promote trust, empathy and friendships among cultures in conflict. Each year a delegation of five Jewish Israeli youth and five Arab Palestinian Israeli youth go to the U.S. for an intensive two week program free from the pressures of their home environment. They share a house with no internet and no cell phones, and spend time learning about each other, engaging in sports and other activities together, and learning that it is possible to be friends with anyone from a different religion, culture or ethnicity. Following the U.S. trip, the program continues back home in Israel/Palestine with numerous programs throughout the year .
This program has had a profound impact on program participants and was the inspiration for the Step By Step Sauwa Sauwa musical and documentary project. Sauwa Sauwa was a joint project of the 2011 Friends Forever group of Leo Baeck students and Muslim students from the Galilee village of Ein Mahal. Sauwa Sauwa, an original Arab-Jewish musical production featuring 38 talented Muslim and Jewish students, presented their unique and life-changing story of shared existence to schools in India, Canada, England and the U.S. via the historic Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s “Face to Faith” multi-country videoconference.