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:

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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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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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