Facilitation Training

The Jewish Dialogue Group offers two types of facilitation training workshops:

  • for people who want work with us as volunteer facilitators
  •  for people who want to facilitate in their own synagogues, schools, organizations, or communities

This page describes our training program for JDG volunteers. Check back soon for more information about our other training services. If you wish to lead dialogue programs on your own, you may also want to participate in workshops led by the Public Conversations Project.

Who are JDG’s facilitators? Who are the introductory trainings designed for?

We welcome people from all backgrounds and with all levels of experience to work with us as facilitators. Our facilitators are teachers, students, rabbis, mediators, psychologists, social workers, graphic designers, writers, and tech workers. They are religious and secular, and they hold a wide range of political views.

You do not need to be an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order faciltate effectively. You simply need to be skilled in helping people to talk across differences about complex, emotionally charged issues, and comfortable addressing this particular issue. Our training workshops will help you to develop the needed skills. Whether you’ve never served as a facilitator before or you’re a professional facilitator who simply wants to learn our specific approach, our trainings will be useful to you.

What is involved in facilitating dialogue sessions as part of the Jewish Dialogue Group?

We define “dialogue” as a conversation in which people seek to understand each other better and reflect on their own ideas, feelings, questions, and dilemmas, but don’t try to convince one another or reach a compromise or solution.

In our programs, the facilitator sets up a structure that will help the participants to have a constructive conversation, then guides the participants through their conversation. Facilitators do not share their own ideas or feelings about the issues at hand, but focus solely on serving the group. As facilitator, you will:

  • help the participants to establish a clear purpose for the conversation and suggest communication agreements (like ground rules)
  • pose questions that will help them to learn about each other’s and their own perspectives
  • suggest constructive ways that they can respond to each other
  • keep track of time
  • remind the participants about their agreements when necessary, and help them to maintain the spirit of dialogue, even when they disagree passionately

Our guidebook for facilitators provides step-by-step instructions and other information that will help you to carry out these tasks.

What kind of commitment is involved in training and serving as a volunteer facilitator?

As a first step, we will ask you to participate in a JDG dialogue session. Next, you will participate in a one-day introductory training workshop. After that workshop, you will assist a more experienced facilitator in leading a dialogue session. We will then work with you to find roles that match your particular interests, skills, and experience. JDG holds shorter follow-up workshops for facilitators several times a year, and we will invite you to participate in those as you continue your involvement.

Facilitators often work in teams, and we generally pair new facilitators with more experienced facilitators. Our facilitation teams meet before each dialogue in order to plan and then debrief together afterward.

As a Jewish Dialogue Group facilitator, you can volunteer for as few or as many dialogues as you’d like. We welcome you to get involved no matter how frequently or infrequently you will be available.

What does an introductory training cover?

In an introductory workshop, you will explore some of the basic concepts and skills that are involved in our approach to dialogue, learn about the mechanics of leading a JDG program, practice facilitation, and discuss some of the “internal work” and emotional preparation that will help you to facilitate effectively. The workshop consists mainly of participatory exercises and discussion, along with some short presentations.

What is the cost?

We charge a sliding scale fee to help cover costs. Scholarships are available, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

If you would like to participate in a training workshop or if you have any questions, please contact us: [email protected] / 215-266-1218.