Facilitation Materials

One of the hall­marks of the Encounter program is our small group discus­sion time on our trips. Encounter seeks to culti­vate a more inclu­sive and open American Jewish commu­nal conver­sa­tion about Israel. We hear all too often from colleagues how the subject of Israel is among the most divi­sive, and for that reason so many people avoid the conver­sa­tion alto­gether. Encounter seeks to pry open space within our commu­nity to engage construc­tively on the subject of Israel and the conflict. By trans­form­ing Jewish American engage­ment with and around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we seek to trans­form the conflict itself. Click here to learn more about our mission and method­ol­ogy.

Encounter Facilitation

Encounter small group discus­sion

Fundamental to seed­ing open and inclu­sive conver­sa­tion is skilled facil­i­ta­tion. The Jewish Dialogue Group has collab­o­rated with Public Conversations Project to create an excel­lent facil­i­ta­tion guide­book, “Constructive Conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Guide for Convening and Facilitating Dialogue in Jewish Communities in the U.S.” The full guide­book can be down­loaded here free of charge.

More about the guide­book:

Constructive Conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

by Maggie Herzig of the Public Conversations Project with Mitch Chanin of the Jewish Dialogue Group

This guide­book, co-authored with the Public Conversations Project in 2006, provides step-by-step instruc­tions and all of the other mate­ri­als you need to convene conver­sa­tions that enable people to:

  • listen to and learn about one another across polit­i­cal divides
  • reflect on their expe­ri­ences, ideas, feel­ings, and dilem­mas
  • explore diffi­cult ethi­cal and intel­lec­tual ques­tions
  • seek common ground and grap­ple with their differ­ences

How can the guide be used?

A “dialogue” is a conver­sa­tion in which people seek mutual under­stand­ing rather than trying to convince each other, come to agree­ment, or reach a solu­tion. Dialogue can occur spon­ta­neously, among friends, in class­rooms, in syna­gogue discus­sions, or among strangers. When people are expe­ri­enc­ing polar­ized conflict, however, they may need to agree on an explicit purpose and struc­ture for the conver­sa­tion in order to hold a construc­tive dialogue. In the sessions that the guide­book describes, partic­i­pants meet in small groups to listen care­fully to each other and reflect on their own perspec­tives. An even­handed facil­i­ta­tor works with the partic­i­pants to create a struc­ture for the conver­sa­tion and then guides them through it.

People have used this approach to dialogue for many purposes, includ­ing to:

  • repair painful divi­sions in syna­gogues, schools, or orga­ni­za­tions that are wracked by inter­nal conflict
  • open up new conver­sa­tions in commu­ni­ties that have shied away discus­sion of Israel
  • give people an oppor­tu­nity to explore their ques­tions and dilem­mas in a welcom­ing atmos­phere
  • bring together activists with differ­ing perspec­tives to find more useful ways to talk with each other

What is contained in the guide?

The guide­book provides step-by-step instruc­tions for conven­ing and facil­i­tat­ing dialogue programs, plus back­ground infor­ma­tion, Jewish texts that support the prac­tice of dialogue, and sample hand­outs. The book will lead you through each step of the process: deter­min­ing what kind of dialogue might be help­ful in a commu­nity, decid­ing who to invite, plan­ning an agenda, facil­i­tat­ing the program, gath­er­ing feed­back, and follow­ing up. You can use the guide­book for small and large groups, and for one-time meet­ings as well as multi-session programs.

Who uses the guide­book?

The guide­book is designed to be useful to both begin­ning and expe­ri­enced facil­i­ta­tors. No special­ized train­ing is needed. People with a wide range of back­grounds and occu­pa­tions have led success­ful dialogue sessions using our approach. We invite you to read testi­mo­ni­als from people who have used the guide­book.
How can I access the guide?

To access the guide­book, you can:


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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