Before Your Trip

Travel Information
Cultural Information
Safety Information

I was quite in awe of the thought­ful­ness that went into the program, and your pres­ence, clar­ity, and gentle focus as lead­ers.”

— Josh, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Pardes (Read more testi­mo­ni­als)

Travel Information

Israeli law prohibits Israeli citi­zens from trav­el­ing to most Palestinian popu­la­tion centers in the West Bank. Since those areas are the focus of Encounter’s programs, we are gener­ally unable to accept Israelis as partic­i­pants in the program. A limited number of our programs each year go to areas that are not prohib­ited for Israeli citi­zens; please contact us for more infor­ma­tion.

To travel from Israel to the West Bank, you must have a valid pass­port with a current Israeli visa or stamp. (Your arrival stamp is good for a three-month tourist visit.) As cross­ing points, your pass­port may be checked for an up-to-date visa, but will not be stamped, and Israel does not consider travel in the West Bank as an entrance or exit from the coun­try. Encounter programs travel to Palestinian cities in a private bus, and pass through check­points as a group.

Israeli shekels are the primary currency used in the West Bank, although American dollars and euros are some­times accepted by busi­nesses in tourist-heavy areas (such as Bethlehem).

International tourism in the West Bank is popu­lar, and Encounter groups blend in with other inter­na­tional groups. For exam­ple, more than one million tourists visited Bethlehem in 2009. In the same year, more than 250 Jewish lead­ers trav­eled to Bethlehem on an Encounter program.

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© Bruce Shaffer

Cultural Information

In our expe­ri­ence, a little bit of Arabic can go a long way.  Palestinians will appre­ci­ate your effort to learn and use a few basic greet­ings.

Greeting Translation
Hello (reply)
Ma’a ‘s-salaame Goodbye
Is-salaamu alaykum
Wa-alaykumu ‘s-salaam
“Peace unto you”
Sabah il-heir
Sabah in-nur
Good morn­ing
Good morn­ing (reply)
Ahlan wa-sahlan
Shukran Thank you

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Safety Information

The safety and secu­rity of Encounter’s partic­i­pants is our high­est prior­ity. Encounter plans trips with tremen­dous caution to provide our partic­i­pants with back­ground knowl­edge and guide­lines for the safest possi­ble trip.

Safety risks are an inher­ent compo­nent of any travel expe­ri­ence anywhere in the world, includ­ing Israel and the West Bank. Each partic­i­pant must make the deci­sion to partic­i­pate in an Encounter trip for him or herself.

Here are a number of secu­rity measures we have in place to protect our groups. We’re happy to discuss any of these measures with you; please contact us with any ques­tions.

  1. Encounter trav­els as a group on the bus with visi­ble Palestinian part­ners who are known to Encounter and well-known in the Palestinian commu­nity. In doing so, Encounter partic­i­pants are iden­ti­fied to Palestinian onlook­ers as a friendly rather than inva­sive pres­ence.
  2. Encounter partic­i­pants travel in a group, primar­ily in contained envi­ron­ments and known loca­tions. Encounter partic­i­pants are prohib­ited from leav­ing the group to walk in public areas-– whether to go shop­ping or walk­ing around.
  3. Encounter partic­i­pants are asked not to display exter­nal signs of Jewish iden­tity while in public places-– includ­ing kippot or tzitzit-– and are asked to refrain from speak­ing Hebrew while in public places. Encounter partic­i­pants appear like any of the other many inter­na­tional tourist groups that frequent Bethlehem.
  4. The major­ity of the places Encounter visits are known areas that Encounter trips have trav­eled to previ­ously, and the major­ity of these loca­tions are areas where inter­na­tional tourists travel.
  5. Encounter recom­mends that partic­i­pants regis­ter with their embassy for the dura­tion of their time in Israel and the West Bank, and that they read their embassy’s sugges­tions regard­ing travel and safety. Most embassies consider Israel and the West Bank as one region, so it is only neces­sary to regis­ter once for an entire trip; you don’t need to regis­ter your Encounter trip sepa­rately. To regis­ter with your embassy, follow the links below to the sign-up process for your coun­try, or search for your country’s embassy online.

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Our Mission

Encounter is an edu­ca­tional orga­ni­za­tion dedi­cated to strength­ening the capacity of the Jewish people to be construc­tive agents of change in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Moti­vated by the relent­less Jew­ish pur­suit of hokhma (wis­dom) and binah (under­stand­ing), Encounter cul­ti­vates informed Jew­ish lead­er­ship on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict by bring­ing...

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Contact Encounter

Encounter welcomes all your questions, comments, stories, and queries.

For general inquiries, including upcoming program information and dates, please write to:

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