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.
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 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
Jewish communal leaders simply must recognize the need for us (right now!) to listen and learn, honor and engage, struggle and sit with all of these issues, narratives, experiences...for our sake collectively as a Jewish people, and specifically as American Jews.Lindsey B. Mintz Executive Director, Indianapolis JCRC
It is incumbent upon us, as lovers of Israel, Jews and Judaism, to know all aspects of the issues. We are people of the book, of seeking truth and knowledge and peace.Debbie Cosgrove Chair, Jewish Women’s Foundation NY
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
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.