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 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
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'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
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
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
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.