Encounter invites Jewish leaders to expand their view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to be a positive force for communal change.
It is a duty to listen to all the stories if you wish to have a properly functioning moral compass.Rabbi Steve Greenberg Executive Director, Eshel
I feel more engaged [after the Encounter program]. When I read news stories or hear personal narratives about the conflict, I feel like I have the tools to respond. I'm more sensitive to the challenges that Palestinians face, though I retain skepticism for any simplistic solutions to the conflict.Rabbi Joshua Heller Senior Rabbi, B'nai Torah, Sandy Springs, Georgia
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
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
The opportunity to build relationships and process this intense experience with colleagues and new friends feels essential and a gift.Rabbi Deborah Waxman President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
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.