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Tzedakah We Love: Encounter Exposes Jews to Palestinian Daily Life

by Tamar Fox
Published on January 8, 2008 in Jewcy

I’ve met Rabbi Melissa Weintraub a few times, most notably last year at Limmud NY, and she’s just completely amazing on so many levels. One of the awesome things about her is that she was one of the founders of Encounter Programs when she was living in Israel. Here’s Encounter’s mission statement:

Encounter is an educa­tional orga­ni­za­tion dedi­cated to providing Jewish dias­pora leaders from across the reli­gious and polit­ical spec­trum with expo­sure to Palestinian life.

Motivated by the relent­less Jewish pursuit of hokhma (wisdom) and binah (under­standing), Encounter programs bring partic­i­pants on jour­neys to engage with Palestinians face-to-face and witness real­i­ties first hand.

Within a supportive, uniquely caring, and plural­istic frame­work, Encounter invites partic­i­pants to ask ques­tions and grapple with fresh perspec­tives, in order to create human connec­tions across lines of enmity, and expand personal and polit­ical understanding. 

Israel educa­tion is a hugely impor­tant factor in any Jewish commu­nity and Jewish life, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever gotten an adequate expo­sure to Palestinian life, and I think it’s incred­ibly impor­tant for Jewish leaders to talk from a place of expe­ri­ence when they talk about the conflict, and that means visiting Palestinian homes and engaging with Palestinians. So I hope I’ll be on an Encounter program soon.

I have a number of friends who have been on Encounter trips and they’ve all come back feeling confused by enlight­ened. And maybe I’m too much of an opti­mist, but that sounds like exactly the appro­priate reac­tion to the situ­a­tion as a whole.

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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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