Our Founding Story

Encounter was founded in 2005 by two visionary rabbinical students — now Rabbis Melissa Weintraub and Miriam Margles — who foresaw the need for Jewish communal leadership to have access to both a diversity of Palestinian voices and fellow Jewish voices to be effective leaders on this issue upon their return to the United States. Rabbi Melissa Weintraub was awarded the Grinnell Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize for her work at Encounter and has gone on to create and direct Resetting the Table, an initiative focused on opening up the oft-divisive conversation around Israel in the American Jewish community. Rabbi Miriam Margles serves as the Rabbi of the Danforth Jewish Circle in Toronto, Canada.

It's essential for Jewish leaders. Rabbi Sharon Brous Senior/Founding Rabbi, IKAR
The Encounter experience was such a powerful reminder of the importance of face-to-face interaction. After listening to and learning from actual Palestinian human beings, it’s impossible to revert to grand pronouncements about ‘the Palestinians’ as an undifferentiated, homogenous collective: They’re just as complex, multi-dimensional, thoughtful, and fallible as the rest of us. What a gift to be reminded of that elusive truth in this era of insidious generalizations. Aaron Dorfman President, Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah
It's a powerful and necessary experience. Lindsey B. Mintz Executive Director, Indianapolis JCRC
Encounter gave me access to neighborhoods and people which were otherwise off limits. I was able to see and hear things firsthand that I would not have experienced otherwise. Miriam Heller Stern Director, School of Education, Jewish Institute of Religion, Hebrew Union College
I understand so much more. Even the basic history, the dates, the wars, the treaties… Eric Robbins President/CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta