Israel, Politics

New Jewish Dialogue Guidebook

An announcement some of you might be interested in (I’m not affiliated with this group):


Do you want to bring Jewish people together to talk across political differences about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other controversial issues? Check out the new guidebook to facilitating dialogue, just published by the Jewish Dialogue Group and the Public Conversations Project. If you have any questions, contact JDG at info at jewishdialogue dot org or visit
The Jewish Dialogue Group and the Public Conversations Project are pleased to announce the publication of our new guidebook: Constructive Conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Guide for Convening and Facilitating Dialogue in Jewish Communities in North America
This guidebook will provide you with step-by-step instructions and all of the other materials you will need to conduct dialogue programs that help people to:

  • listen to and understand one other across political differences
  • talk through their feelings
  • examine difficult moral and intellectual questions
  • think through the choices they face

We define “dialogue” as a conversation in which people seek mutual understanding rather than trying to convince each other, come to agreement, or reach a solution. In the sessions that the guidebook describes, participants meet in small groups to listen carefully to each other and reflect on their own perspectives. A facilitator works with them to create a structure for the conversation and then guides them through it. People have used our approach to dialogue for many purposes, including to:

  • repair painful divisions in synagogues or communities that are wracked by internal conflict
  • open up new conversations in communities that have shied away discussion of Israel
  • give people an opportunity to explore their questions and dilemmas in a welcoming atmosphere
  • bring together activists with differing perspectives to find useful ways to talk with each other

The book includes a special chapter that outlines a variety of Jewish teachings about dialogue, speech ethics, and listening, and explains how to bring them into dialogue programs.

One thought on “New Jewish Dialogue Guidebook

  1. Thanks, Asaf, for posting this!
    I wanted to add that the guidebook is available to download totally free of charge through our website. We are excited to share this resource with folks in the Jewschool network.
    I am copying a couple of testimonials below from folks who’ve worked with us, so that you all can hear about how this approach to dialogue has been useful in various communities.
    –Mitch Chanin
    Director, Jewish Dialogue Group (
    “When we invited the Jewish Dialogue Group to come to Congregation Beth Or and help us address a very difficult issue (the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial resolution on the Iraq War), it was impossible to know just how effective they would be at facilitating a dialogue that was fair and constructive. I was tremendously impressed by the outcome of the session that they planned and facilitated which, due to the sensitive and professional way in which they ran the event, was able to be a forum for our congregants who may disagree passionately with one another on this issue to hear one another speak with open and trusting hearts. Jewish values were at the center of the experience and it was a true manifestation of the commitment to “eilu ve-eilu” as our tradition instructs us. I am grateful for their presence in the community and look forward to hosting them at Beth Or again.”
    —Craig Axler, Rabbi, Congregation Beth Or (Maple Glen, PA)
    “I have found that methods suggested by the Jewish Dialogue Group and the Public Conversations Project have made safe space possible for highly sensitive conversations between Jews from all over the political spectrum. I facilitate dialogue among politically and religiously diverse groups of Jews while they are in the West Bank encountering Palestinian realities, usually for the first time; the potential for mutual and explosiveness is high. JDG provided us with tools to create a structured conversation that can hold all of the conflicting emotions and perspectives that arise in participants. With JDG’s help, participants better understand the ways their views are rooted in their own personal stories, and feel comfortable enough to open themselves to others’ views in unexpected and often transformative ways.”

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