Would you like to bring a Jewish Dialogue Group facilitator to lead a dialogue program in your synagogue, school, or organization? Would you like to attend a public dialogue program in your community?
Our dialogue programs give people an opportunity to:
Listen to and understand one another across differences
Reflect on and clarify their own feelings and views
Examine complex ethical and intellectual questions
Seek common ground and strengthen relationships
Each program involves intimate conversations in small groups, guided by a trained facilitator. The facilitators set up a structure for the conversation, propose communication agreements, and pose specially designed questions. These practices help participants to speak and listen in a manner that fosters mutual understanding and reflection. We encourage participants to explore their differences, seeking to understand them more fully, but not to persuade one another or to seek consensus or compromise.
Learn more about how we define “dialogue.”
View a sample dialogue agenda.
Types of Programs
We work with congregations, student groups, and organizations to design programs that address their specific needs. We also host public dialogue programs that bring together Jewish people who don’t share a common affiliation but who want to come together to talk across differences about difficult issues. Both public and private dialogues can involve a variety of formats and issues:
- Large and Small Groups: We have led programs with as few as 5 and as many as 120 participants. In programs with more than seven or eight people, participants spend most of their time talking in small break-out groups, and also participate in large-group activities.
- One-Time Events and Multi-Session Series: We lead both one-time sessions and dialogue series that involve several meetings over a period of weeks or months. Multi-session programs enable participants to achieve greater depth and to consider a wider range of issues of issues than one-time events. In multi-session programs, participants sometimes explore books, articles, videos, or other materials together.
- Issues: Most of our programs have focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and related issues. Many dialogues focus broadly on participants’ varied perspectives on the conflict. Some focus more narrowly on particular sub-issues, including current events such as the June 2010 Gaza Flotilla Crisis. Others focus on controversies in particular communities, such as the controversy surrounding the decision of a food co-op in the Pacific Northwest to boycott Israeli products. We also have also led dialogues about issues not related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including health care policy, gender and egalitarianism, the War in Iraq, the role of synagogues in promoting social justice, and the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis in the Conservative movement.
Who Comes to Our Programs?
We work with Jewish people of all backgrounds and political perspectives. Many of our programs also include non-Jews who are part of Jewish families or communities.
How to Get Involved
Convene a Dialogue in Your Synagogue, School, or Organization
We work with congregations, student groups, and organizations of many different kinds to design programs that address their specific needs. Experienced facilitators lead each program. In some cases, our trainers also teach members of the organization to facilitate dialogue sessions using Jewish Dialogue Group materials. Most programs are sponsored by just one institution, but in some cases, two or more organizations join together to co-sponsor a dialogue.
Participate in a Public Dialogue
Our public dialogues bring together Jewish people who don’t share a common affiliation but who want to come together to talk across differences about difficult issues. We host one-time introductory dialogue sessions several times each year in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Boston, and other locations. In addition, we organize multi-part dialogue programs that bring together individuals who have a specific need to talk with each other, such as activists or leaders who have varied political perspectives and want to build more constructive relationships.
Lead Your Own Dialogue
You may also want to use our methods to facilitate a dialogue program in your group or community on your own. We have created a detailed guidebook for facilitators as well as other materials that you may find help. They are available to read and download free of charge, and you may also purchase printed copies of our guidebook. In addition, we are available by telephone to provide guidance.