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.
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
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: