Our Community

Encounter’s community includes leading rabbis of every denomination, professionals and lay leaders of every major Jewish institution, and public intellectuals shaping the contours of American Jewish life. All care deeply about the future of Israel and share a commitment to a more informed, inclusive and constructive Jewish communal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

John Ruskay

Executive Vice President Emeritus UJA-Federation of New York

I go to Israel 4-6 times a year and I have been working on Israeli-Palestinians peace for 50 plus years from different places, in different ways. Encounter did not change my politics, but it deepened my appreciation for what Palestinians experience....

View Profile

Rabbi Dr. Erin Leib Smokler

Dean of Students and Mashgicha Ruchanit Yeshivat Maharat

Encounter is crucial for Jewish leaders who seek to advance the communal conversation on the conflict. To weigh in thoughtfully on the matter, we must understand the stakes of it — not only in our minds, but deep in our hearts. Encounter provides t...

View Profile

Rabbi David Wolkenfeld

Rabbi Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel

Three of the most formative years of my life were spent as a student in Israeli yeshivot located in the West Bank among Palestinian cities and towns that I never entered and about which I had no first-hand knowledge. Encounter was a safe and comforta...

View Profile

Melanie Roth Gorelick

Senior Vice President Jewish Council for Public Affairs

There are many opportunities for our leaders to be educated from the Israel lens, but Encounter provides the unique and important opportunity to hear first hand from Palestinians themselves, especially the emerging non-violent leaders of tomorrow. I...

View Profile
Photo by Shulamit Seidler-Feller

Jeff R. Solomon

Senior Advisor Chasbro Investments

Jewish leadership requires, along with emotional intelligence, understanding of many things Jewish and many things universal. The Encounter experience provides its participants with a major gift: the opportunity to listen. The simple power of listeni...

View Profile