Photo by Shulamit Seidler-Feller

Our Mission

Encounter invites Jewish leaders to expand their view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to be a positive force for communal change.

I have an additional narrative in my head which I didn't have prior--that is why I knew it was necessary for me as a communal leader. Debbie Cosgrove Chair, Jewish Women’s Foundation NY
This is an intense trip that quickly immerses you in narratives of Palestinians that are mostly hidden to Jews living in Israel. You will have access to unvarnished insights that will deepen your understanding of the Palestinian narrative and broaden your understanding of the conflict. You will have the chance to ask hard questions and to struggle deeply with colleagues about the challenges you witness. All of this in a deeply supportive environment. Rabbi Elliott Tepperman Rabbi, Bnai Keshet, New Jersey
Being in some of the actual places most impacted by the conflict with one's actual body, feelings and self along with a cohort of incredibly thoughtful, passionate Jews who know a lot about the conflict and care deeply about Jews, Israel and the conflict itself, allows for an encounter with living history deeper than any panel, essay, sermon, or organizing session ever could. David S. Koffman Assistant Professor of History, Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, York University
Incredibly eye-opening, educational. It offers Jewish communal leaders a unique opportunity to get unfiltered facts about the current conditions. Deborah Lauter Senior Vice President, Policy and Programs, Anti-Defamation League
The value [of the program] is massive. The exposure to different points of view and its very organized well thought out meaningful way is very powerful and life-changing. Rabbi Jessica Spitalnic Brockman Associate Rabbi, Temple Beth El, Boca Raton

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 nearly 2,700 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.