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
Being in some of the actual places most impacted by the conflict with one's actual body, feelings and self along with a cohort of incredibly thoughtful, passionate Jews who know a lot about the conflict and care deeply about Jews, Israel and the conflict itself, allows for an encounter with living history deeper than any panel, essay, sermon, or organizing session ever could.David S. Koffman Assistant Professor of History, Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, York University
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
It's essential for Jewish leaders.Rabbi Sharon Brous Senior/Founding Rabbi, IKAR
I appreciated the opportunity to deepen my understanding of the conflict without being told what I should think or what I should do about it. Instead, I was given a diverse community of colleagues with whom I could debrief and figure out for myself how to incorporate what I had encountered into my leadership.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.