Participant Profiles

Who are our alumni?

Encounter attracts talented, estab­lished, and rising Jewish lead­ers from a stag­ger­ing range of polit­i­cal orien­ta­tions, reli­gious back­grounds and profes­sional spheres. Encounter’s past partic­i­pants range from national-reli­gious right to secu­lar-left and serve commu­ni­ties across North America as well as in Israel, Europe, and Australia.

About 80% of our past partic­i­pants are 20- to 30-some­thing emerg­ing Jewish lead­ers– Jewish educa­tors, young commu­nal lead­ers, rabbis-in-train­ing from every semi­nary and several Orthodox yeshivot. From this demo­graphic, we have wait­ing lists for every trip.

About 20% (and grow­ing) of our partic­i­pants are more estab­lished Jewish lead­ers: Federation exec­u­tives, JCRC direc­tors, phil­an­thropists, and jour­nal­ists.

Participant Profiles

  • Profile: Alisa Robbins Doctoroff

    Encounter alumna Alisa Doctoroff is the Chair of the UJA-Federation in NY and the imme­di­ate past pres­i­dent of the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan. Doctoroff serves on the Boards of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Mechon Hadar and Moving Traditions. Read more about her Encounter expe­ri­ence: “Now I am more knowl­edge­able about the divi­sions that exist, and I want to help heal those divi­sions.”
  • Profile: Charlie Schwartz

    “I joined the Israeli army for a vari­ety of reasons; the primary reason being Zionism. [My] love for Israel was never a super­fi­cial love; never a love that went skin deep. Part of my love for Israel means under­stand­ing the nature of the conflict and the complex­i­ties of it and when people are hurt by it, under­stand­ing what Israel’s respon­si­bil­ity is in caus­ing that hurt. For me going on Encounter was an intensely Zionist expe­ri­ence.”
  • Profile: Michael Goldstein

    “Encounter is making me a better rabbi and a better teacher. Thanks to Encounter, I was able to model an approach for my students that balances a love for Israel while recog­niz­ing Israel’s mistakes. It was a perspec­tive that they needed to hear.”


  • Profile: Sarah Bassin

    “I was chal­lenged to look at the sepa­ra­tion wall in Bethlehem and seek balance – to under­stand its profound impact on the lives and liveli­hood of Palestinians even as I under­stood its role in prevent­ing suicide attacks against Israelis. It was power­ful to learn how hard it is to listen with­out shut­ting down, clos­ing off and getting defen­sive.”
  • Profile: Steve Lear

    Lear is the founder of the “Challenge of Peace” program of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, a program that has orga­nized more than 1000 presen­ta­tions in churches and commu­nity groups about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lear has also served in vari­ous lead­er­ship capac­i­ties within the Minneapolis Jewish Federation and the JCRC, and is a strong supporter of AIPAC and the Israel Project. On Encounter, Lear learned that, “Palestinians are also split about the course of action,” and says, “Independent of their govern­ments, people are people; that’s the beauty of it.” He also cites “active listen­ing” as an infor­ma­tive expe­ri­ence, “Not just listen­ing for the sake of refut­ing, but really making sure that my posi­tions take into account the other side.”

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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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