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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