Encounter is an educational organization working toward informed, courageous and resilient American & Israeli Jewish communal leadership on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Encounter experience was such a powerful reminder of the importance of face-to-face interaction. After listening to and learning from actual Palestinian human beings, it’s impossible to revert to grand pronouncements about ‘the Palestinians’ as an undifferentiated, homogenous collective: They’re just as complex, multi-dimensional, thoughtful, and fallible as the rest of us. What a gift to be reminded of that elusive truth in this era of insidious generalizations.Aaron Dorfman President, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah
I appreciated the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the conflict without being told what I should think or what I should do about it. Instead, I was given a diverse community of colleagues with whom I could debrief and figure out for myself how to incorporate what I had encountered into my leadership.Miriam Heller Stern Director, School of Education, Jewish Institute of Religion, Hebrew Union College
It offered me a way to stretch myself and face uncomfortable realities in a way that I often (whether consciously or not) tend to avoid doing. Specifically, it reinforced the urgency and centrality of the conflict within the array of issues, causes, and experiences through I which I relate to the State of Israel. At the same time, it connected me to an incredible network of passionate Jewish leaders who now share the same powerful and unsettling experience.Rabbi Avraham Bronstein Rabbi, The Hampton Synagogue
I understand so much more. Even the basic history, the dates, the wars, the treaties…Eric Robbins President/CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
So important to put faces and images to labels we read about. So important to humanize those often pitted as our enemies. So important to do so with Jews in a context of Ahavat Yisrael.Rabbi David Wolkenfeld Senior Rabbi, Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel
At Encounter, we believe Jewish leaders have a responsibility to engage seriously with a diverse set of voices to enhance our understanding of the dynamics that animate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Where Israel was once a unifying Jewish communal force, the subject of the conflict is now one of the most divisive and polarizing in American Jewish life. Our community needs leaders who can engage differently. Encounter believes our capacity to do so are acutely enhanced by meaningfully and directly engaging with the people with whom Israel is destined to share its future — Palestinians — as Jewish leaders, in the company of peers.
Encounter’s programs fill an essential, but often missing, piece of education for Jewish leaders who care deeply about Israel, the American Jewish community and the relationship between the two. Through our Immersive Education programs, selected influencers are invited to travel to the West Bank and East Jerusalem to join a carefully curated cohort of Jewish thought leaders from across the religious and political spectra to meet with a wide range of Palestinians — from civil society and business leaders to negotiators and grassroots activists, together and to consider the implications of what we learn for American Jewish life, Israel, the Palestinians and the interdependent relationships between them. Our Continuing Education opportunities build on the relationships forged in our immersive programs, and forms the basis for access to new perspectives, new networks and new approaches to the conflict.
Founded in 2005 by Rabbis Melissa Weintraub and Miriam Margles, Encounter has so far taken more than 3,000 prominent and emerging American Jewish leaders to Bethlehem, Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Hebron to actively listen and learn from a wide range of Palestinians — and from each other.