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.

I thought I had a solid command on so many facts and figures and data points and narratives. This trip gave me more facts, data points and anecdotes and voices that offer different narratives… Being present for that testimony was a gift. Rabbi David Seth Kirshner Rabbi, Temple Emanu-El, Closter, New Jersey
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
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
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
I understand so much more. Even the basic history, the dates, the wars, the treaties… Eric Robbins President/CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta

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.