Photo by Shulamit Seidler-Feller

Our Vision

Encounter seeks to grow the Jewish community’s capacity to contribute to a durable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which all parties live with respect, recognition, and rights.

Essential and transformative. Rabbi Angela Buchdahl Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue
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
Encounter's value is being one of a kind in creating a thoughtful, safe space [and a] responsible and diverse cohort of inspiring colleagues who can support each other in engaging the conflict in our communities. It offers Jewish leaders access to the voices we want to be talking to and with and about from the other side of the messiest, most personal global conflict we are in some way all a part of. It softens our ears and hearts even while dogmatically resisting specific political solutions or pat answers. Rabbi Steven Exler Senior Rabbi, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
Encounter reinforced that certainty is not our friend if we are going to be drivers of peace. We need more questions than answers, more curiosity than certainty. Elana Kahn Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Encounter gave me access to neighborhoods and people which were otherwise off limits. I was able to see and hear things firsthand that I would not have experienced otherwise. Miriam Heller Stern Director, School of Education, Jewish Institute of Religion, Hebrew Union College

As Jews, we are heirs to an ancient tradition that prizes dissenting voices: a tradition that has never been afraid to ask tough questions, confront unsettling realities or argue l’shem shamayim, for the sake of the heavens.

Encounter brings these quintessentially Jewish values into our understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many of our community’s leaders — leaders who play an active role in shaping American Jewish engagement with Israel and the conflict — rarely have the opportunity to hear directly from the Palestinians with whom our people’s story is so intimately intertwined. More strikingly, so many Jewish communal leaders also rarely have occasion to connect with a cross-sector cohort of peers in an off-the-record, structured and facilitated way, about the very issues that are so high-stakes for our community.

We believe this moment, and responsible Jewish leadership demands of us to engage seriously and directly with both the voices of others in our community and of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Our programs offer the opportunity to do both, which in our view, is a fundamental act of Ahavat Yisrael: Love of One’s People.

In so doing, we invite American Jewish leaders to open themselves up to new knowledge, new experiences, new relationships, and — ultimately — new possibilities.