Testimonials about Our Programs and Materials
We have received many testimonials from people who have participated in our programs or used our materials. Here are a few highlights.
Dialogue Participants (Read more.)
"Nowhere on campus have I ever witnessed a group with more mutual respect for one another than the Jewish Dialogue group. It was the first time I could speak comfortably without having to hide or compromise my opinions. I always knew that my fellow members listened to what I said with interest and understanding rather than with judgment. Miraculously, I too was able to listen to dissenting viewpoints without automatically conjuring up a defensive response. We were all in pursuit of a mutual understanding; not in pursuit of imposing our views, and I do wholeheartedly believe that we, as a group, reached our goal."
—Paul Bloch, co-chair, Jewish Student Union
Haverford College, Class of 2009
"For me, participating in what has become an ongoing, albeit infrequently meeting Activist Dialogue Group has been transformative — and a source of amazement, support, and surprise. Each meeting provides very palatable bite-size experiences that reconfigure my internal world. Each encounter is an opportunity to stretch my interpersonal, spiritual, and emotional muscles. As a result of my experience with the Jewish Dialogue Group, the world is more interesting, less black and white. My conversations on Israel-Palestine are more satisfying. I am more tolerant of difference. My activism is more thoughtful and less reactive. I see and hear more clearly. Actually, I like myself better—and as a result, I like everyone else a bit more, too."
—Susan Landau, Philadelphia
Dialogue Sponsors (Read more.)
"In synagogue life, where we Jews argue about almost everything, Israel has become a topic we are afraid to argue about. Israel has the capacity to polarize a community, and often folks, sometimes including the rabbi, don't want to risk expressing their views. The Jewish Dialogue Group created a safe space for my congregants to begin to talk to each other about their most deeply held beliefs and feelings about Israel. People who have known each other for years but who never felt comfortable sharing with each other about Israel were able to listen and share in an atmosphere protected by trust and confidentiality. I look forward to bringing this experience to more and more members of our community."
—Rabbi Rachel Goldenberg
Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek (Chester, CT)
"Divided between five clubs concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many of us in the Jewish community at Brandeis felt the need for a cooperative dialogue to quell some of our outstanding tensions. We were excited to have the Jewish Dialogue Group facilitate such a dialogue session, and the outcome brought an air of harmony that exceeded all of our expectations. During the dialogue session, students who supported organizations ranging from AIPAC to J Street to Jewish Voice for Peace quickly became friends, and remain so today. By recognizing each of our passions for the same goal—a just resolution to the conflict—and realizing that we shared many of the same fears, we were able to dispel the anxieties towards one another that existed before the session. The progress we made during the dialogue has led us to run joint programs and to collaborate in publicizing each other's events in order for students to learn about different narratives of the conflict. Indeed, what used to be an atmosphere filled with suspicion on campus has become an open place to discuss varying ideas, and we are now always delighted to see one another and to sit with one another at the Shabbat table."
Brandeis University, Class of 2011
Manual for Dialogue Facilitators (Read more.)"The Jewish Dialogue Group/Public Conversations Project Guidebook provided the ideal framework for the 'Perspectives on Israel' conversation series at Yale Hillel. It allowed flexibility to adapt many of its suggestions to our unique student-led, student-focused group, while suggesting more structured ways to conduct the dialogue than I had previously explored. The Guidebook's recommendations helped us run respectful, interesting, insightful, and productive sessions in which students learned from each other, really listened to other points of view, and were able to get a better idea of where issues relating to Israel stand on our campus. Whereas the conversations had the potential to be contentious, the JDG's tools helped foster our already unusually respectful environment at Yale and focus our informal conversations into productive—and popular—dialogue sessions."
—Sarah Turbow, Yale University, Class of 2010
Guidebook for Deliberation about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Read more.)
"This guidebook is remarkable in many ways — primarily in creating a non-partisan guide to this most difficult issue. It doesn’t just include many disparate voices on this conflict, it makes the case for each position in the strongest way. And it presents the risks and trade-offs within each position. By putting all of this into one guide, the Jewish Dialogue Group has created a uniquely valuable resource. JDG has, thus, made possible what many think impossible to happen: for advocates of varied approaches to come together for more productive discourse, to actually deliberate the issues (not just argue or debate). Just as importantly, it will give those who do not have settled positions a way to seek their own answers and weigh their choices. It will be up to those advocates, and the advocates for productive deliberation, to make that happen."
—Dr. Harris Sokoloff
Director, Penn Project for Civic Engagement (Philadelphia, PA)
Training Programs (Read more.)
"The training and experience I've had as a Jewish Dialogue Group facilitator has been among the most important learning I've done as a rabbinical student. I have a whole new way of understanding my own responses when I'm part of a conversation about issues I feel passionately about. And I have a whole new set of powerful tools for dealing with difficult and controversial issues in groups that I'm a part of or that I'm leading. The training has helped me to be a much better practitioner of the kind of compassion that I believe is necessary for the healing of our world. I feel equipped to enter the forbidden zones of communal conversation — about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and about other difficult and painful issues that are likely to arise in the communities I serve — with confidence that we will emerge from the conversation strengthened rather than fractured, and with deeper understanding and greater respect for each other and for our community."
—Rabbi Devra Noily, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Class of 2009
Consulting Services (Read more.)
"This past year, a group of students at the Pardes Institute came together to discuss how to encourage deep, open discussions within the student body on the biggest issues facing the Jewish world. We reached out to the Jewish Dialogue Group for guidance. The result was 'Makloket Matters': monthly presentations and discussions across the whole Pardes community on the most important questions before us. Teachers remarked that they had never seen something like this in 30 years of Pardes history. Pardes is planning to expand the project this upcoming year to further foster the culture of dialogue being created. The Jewish Dialogue Group's experience and resources were invaluable in jumpstarting this project."
—Yoni Ashar, former Fellow, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies (Jerusalem)