Our Community

Encounter’s community includes leading rabbis of every denomination, professionals and lay leaders of every major Jewish institution, and public intellectuals shaping the contours of American Jewish life. All care deeply about the future of Israel and share a commitment to a more informed, inclusive and constructive Jewish communal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

John Ruskay

Executive Vice President Emeritus UJA-Federation of New York

I go to Israel 4-6 times a year and I have been working on Israeli-Palestinians peace for 50 plus years from different places, in different ways. Encounter did not change my politics, but it deepened my appreciation for what Palestinians experience....

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Erin Leib Smokler

Director, Spiritual Development Yeshivat Maharat

Encounter is crucial for Jewish leaders who seek to advance the communal conversation on the conflict. To weigh in thoughtfully on the matter, we must understand the stakes of it — not only in our minds, but deep in our hearts. Encounter provides t...

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Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

Rabbi Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel

Three of the most formative years of my life were spent as a student in Israeli yeshivot located in the West Bank among Palestinian cities and towns that I never entered and about which I had no first-hand knowledge. Encounter was a safe and comforta...

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Melanie Roth Gorelick

Senior Vice President Jewish Council for Public Affairs

There are many opportunities for our leaders to be educated from the Israel lens, but Encounter provides the unique and important opportunity to hear first hand from Palestinians themselves, especially the emerging non-violent leaders of tomorrow. I...

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Photo by Shulamit Seidler-Feller

Jeff R. Solomon

Senior Advisor Chasbro Investments

Jewish leadership requires, along with emotional intelligence, understanding of many things Jewish and many things universal. The Encounter experience provides its participants with a major gift: the opportunity to listen. The simple power of listeni...

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Upcoming Programs

East Jerusalem Program for Gap Year Students

East Jerusalem – Gap Year April 26 - April 27

Our Emerging Leader Programs targeted to Gap Year students are designed for exceptional young leaders. Each program includes a two-day immersive experience in the West Bank during which participants gain unique, multifaceted insight into Palestinian life. Throughout, participants engage in a rich conversation amongst themselves that crosses political and religious affiliations and perspectives, cultivating relationships that transcend sectarian boundaries.

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Bethlehem Program for Jewish Leaders

Bethlehem – Emerging Leader May 10 - May 11

Our Emerging Leader Programs are designed for exceptional early-career Jewish professionals and future rabbis. Each program includes a two-day immersive experience in the West Bank during which participants gain unique, multifaceted insight into Palestinian life. Throughout, participants engage in a rich conversation amongst themselves that crosses political and religious affiliations and perspectives, cultivating relationships that transcend sectarian boundaries.

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Intensive Leadership Seminar

West Bank and East Jerusalem June 25 - June 28

Our Intensive Leadership Seminars are by-invitation-only programs designed for high-level Jewish communal leaders. Each Seminar cohort is comprised of leading Jewish professionals in their various fields and select lay leaders committed to a more nuanced, informed and constructive engagement with Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Seminars include a four-day delegation to the region with focused travel in Palestinian communities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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