Travel Preparation

This article is meant especially for people who are going to Israel.

 

Packing Checklist

Top 10 Travel Tips

Time

Dress & Manners

Weather

Food

Safety

Alcohol & Drugs

Useful Hebrew Words

Getting Around

Accommodations

Shopping

A Final Thought

 

Are you ready to go to Israel?

 

I said, are you READY?

 

Let’s check.

 

Below we’ll discuss some of the information you might want to have before you leave for a real visit to Israel and some suggestions about what to bring and how to otherwise prepare for the experience of a lifetime. Of course, one of the great things about taking our virtual tour is you don’t need anything. You can just GO!

Packing Checklist

Tickets        Vaccination Certificate1>        Passport2

Wallet/Handbag3 Travelers Checks4         Cash5

Credit Card6        Itinerary      Reservations

Phone Numbers7 First Aid supplies          Camera/Video & film

Alarm Clock/Watch       Clothesline/pins   Comb/Brush

Deodorant Needles and thread        Plastic bags

Prescriptions        Safety pins Soap (laundry/bath)

Spot remover       Suntan lotion       Tooth brush/paste

Umbrella     Pen/Pencil   Paper/Journal8

Addresses/stamps          (Sun) Glasses       Medicines

Aspirin/Lomotil9 Razor (shaving cream)   Hat

Gloves        Bathing suit          Pajamas

Raincoat     Sweater/Sweatshirt        Handkerchiefs/scarves

Robe Shirts (casual/dress)       Socks

Pants (casual/dress)       Walking shoes/boots      Slippers/thongs

Dress shoes          Sandals       Sport coat & tie

Underwear Belt(s)         Cosmetics

Dresses       Backpack/day pack       Hose

Jewelry       Canteen      Lingerie

 

How much you pack depends partially on how long you stay. In Israel, you’ll probably be moving around a lot and you won’t want to pack and unpack a lot of stuff. Generally, it’s a good idea to travel light and expect that you will need more room in your bags when you go home than when you left to accommodate gifts, dirty clothes and the tendency for clothes to take up more space on the return flight. Also, remember that the power supply is 220 volt AC-50 cycles. Make sure your electrical items can operate or purchase an adaptor kit.

1 You don’t need any shots to visit Israel, but it is good to have your records in case you come down with something or travel to another country.

2 Every visitor to Israel must have a valid passport to travel to Israel that doesn’t expire until at least six months after your return. Note that it usually takes several weeks to obtain a passport, so apply well ahead of time if you don’t have one yet. It’s a good idea to make two copies of the first two pages of your passport. Keep one at home and put the other separate from your passport. This will help speed the process of replacing your passport if it’s lost or stolen. Citizens from many countries, including the U.S., are issued free visitors’ visas when they enter the country.

3 Travelers have different opinions regarding carrying wallets and purses. Some people believe it’s safer to put valuables in a pouch or conceal them. The kind of pouches and backpacks people wear outside their clothes make you stand out as a tourist and don’t necessarily protect you from thieves. Valuable items are best left in a safe deposit box in a hotel.

4 It is a good idea to have some cash with you for emergencies, transportation and small purchases. Fifty dollars should be plenty. Bring an ATM card and you can get more from local banks without having to worry about exchange rates and fees. Official money exchangers usually have the best rates for changing money. Most businesses accept credit cards.

5 Bring important phone numbers with you for emergencies and to contact friends and family in Israel.

6 Bring a camera and/or video and try to take pictures of people rather than just buildings. The shots will be more memorable when attached to faces.

7 Getting sick away from home is always depressing. Several items on the checklist are meant to keep you healthy and insure you have the basic remedies for common maladies. Health care in Israel is excellent, but you still want to be safe rather than sorry. The food and water in Israel should give you no trouble, but, just in case, bring medication to relieve the symptoms of stomach problems.

 

Time

Israel is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, eight hours ahead of Central Time, nine hours ahead of Mountain Time and ten hours ahead of Pacific Time. It is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Dress

Dress in Israel is casual. You’ll notice the checklist has a variety of apparel. You’ll need warm clothes during winter months. If you plan to go to religious shrines or services, you should bring modest clothes. This is true also in religious Jewish neighborhoods where women, especially, are expected to wear sleeves below the elbow and skirts below the knees. One alternative is to carry a shawl that you can wrap around your shoulders or bare legs, or a wrap skirt to cover your shorts. Regardless of your personal views, respect those of the people who live there and you will have no trouble.

Weather

Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March), with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible amounts in the southern areas. Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev.

Average Temperatures

Average Temperatures

 

Food

Israel has great food. Most people are probably familiar with falafel — fried ground chick peas served with salad in pita. Meat eaters will love shwarma, lamb sliced off a spit and served in pita (similar to gyros). Both are cheap, filling meals. Lots of other Mediterranean specialties like shishlik (shish kebab), baklawa (sweetmeat made of dough, honey, and nuts) and moussaka (baked eggplant, minced meat, onion and parsley) will stimulate your taste buds.

The water in Israel is safe to drink; nevertheless, it is different from what you are used to and people with sensitive stomachs may want to stick to bottled water. Also, Israelis don’t usually put ice in their drinks, so if you want some, ask for kerakh.

 

Keep in mind that not everything in Israel is kosher. Restaurants that are kosher serve either dairy or meat and close on Shabbat. The restaurant should have a certificate either in the window or available for inspection. Unless the menu or check says otherwise, tips are not included.

Safety

Forget what you’ve read in the papers or seen on TV; Israel is a very safe place to visit. You are far more likely to run into trouble in any major U.S. city than anywhere in Israel.

One of the first things you’ll notice when you arrive in Israel is the number of people carrying guns. It can be disconcerting. Soldiers carry them on the streets, in cars and on buses. Soldiers are required to keep their weapons with them, and since so many Israelis are on duty, it is common to stand next to someone on the bus with a machine gun hanging around their neck. You’ll quickly get used to it and realize it’s a fact of life in Israel and nothing to fear.

A Little Hebrew

As you practice the following Hebrew words, keep in mind:

1. Place the emphasis on the last syllable as this is the way most Hebrew words are proununced.

2. A “ch” within a word  makes a guttural sound. It is not pronounced like the English “ch” as in “chat”, but more like a “kha” made by forcing air out of the back of the throat.

Common words you may use every day:

  • Hello/goodbye/peace (be to you) – shalom
  • Good morning – boker tov
  • How are you? – ma schlomcha? (not pronounced shlomka, but shlom-kha [the “ka” hbeing forced out of the back of the throat]
  • Good, thank you – Tov, bevakasha
  • What is your name? – ma shimcha?
  • Welcome – baruch haba
  • Please (also You’re welcome) – bevakasha
  • Thank you (very much) – toda (raba)
  • See you soon – lehitraot
  • Sorry – mitztaer
  • Breakfast – aruchat boker
  • Dinner – aruchat erev
  • Table – shulcan
  • Plate – tzalachat
  • Fork – masleg
  • Glass – kohss
  • Spoon – kahf
  • Knife – suhkeen
  • Beef – bakar
  • Chicken – off
  • Fish – dag
  • Coffee – kafeh
  • Tea – teh
  • Bread – lechem (Bet Lechem, or Bethlehem = house of bread)
  • Water – mai’im
  • Juice – meats
  • Salad – salat
  • Dates – t’marim
  • Hummus – not pronounced like it is spelled, but pronounced “who-moose” with the “who” being forced out of the back of the throat
  • Wine – yayin
  • Without sugar – blee sukar
  • Tasty – taim
  • More – od
  • How much is it? kamah zeh oleh?
  • May I pay with…? – ha’im ani yachol leshalem im?
  • House – bayit
  • Swimsuit – beged yam
  • Money – kesef
  • Hat – kova
  • Shoes – naalyim

Numbers:

  • 1 – achat
  • 2 – shtaim
  • 3 – shalosh
  • 4 – arbah
  • 5 – hamesh
  • 6 – shesh
  • 7 – sheyvah
  • 8 – shmone
  • 9 – tesha

English-sounding words with different Hebrew meanings:

  • Come – boy (i.e. in Hebrew, “boy” means “come”)
  • Juice – meats
  • He – who
  • She – he (yes, it’s true: In Hebrew, “he” actually means “she”)
  • Who – me
  • What? (as in “I didn’t understand”) – ma?

Common slang words (feel free to use these):

  • Peace be to you – shalom aleichem
  • Great, groovy, cool – Sabbaba (adj.)
  • “Bro” (when you cannot remember someone’s name) – Achi
  • The real thing – Achla (n.) ie. “That was achla hummus.”
  • Hello – Ahalan (n.). “Ahalan, achi ma koreh?” (Hi, bro, what’s up?)
  • Literally, an explosion, but more often used to describe a pretty girl or something great – Petzatza!
  • What’s up? (exclamation) – Ma Koreh?
  • No way! (exclamation) – Ma Pitom!
  • (What a) downer – Eze Ba-sa
  • Great! Outasight! (exclamation) – Sof Ha Derech!
  • A big mess – Balagan
  • Move on now (or, Let’s go!). Ya-lah
  • Wait just a minute! (or, “chill out”!), expressed with first two fingers of right hand pressed against thumb and pointing upward – Rak Regah!
  • Patience – Savlanut
  • An embarrassing situation – Fadeecha
  • Goodbye! (very friendly) – Yallah Bye!
  • Quit (doing that)! Said with exasperation to a child when you want him to stop what he is doing – Die!

Getting Around

Since most Israeli cities are small, you can walk most places you need to go. You’ll see a lot and have more opportunities to interact with the people. If you’re on your own, get a map from a hotel or tourist office and you’ll be in good shape.

Taxis are a common mode of transportation, but, as in most places, drivers are not always honest. They will frequently try to take you for a ride without using their meter. NEVER let them do this. Always ask before you get in the cab how much the fare should be and insist they use a meter. The one exception is for long trips, such as between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (and from the airport) where the fares are usually set before you leave. You can also learn a lot about Israel by talking to cab drivers; they’re usually not shy about offering their opinions. You do not have to tip cab drivers. Table of Local Distance in Kilometers

Tel Aviv     Jerusalem    Eilat Haifa

Akko                    118              181              474    23

Beer Sheva 113              83                243    208

Eilat           356              326              –        451

Haifa                     95                158              451    –

Jerusalem    63                –                  326    158

Airport       18                51                341    112

Netanya      32                95                388    63

Tel Aviv     –                  63                356    95

Tiberias      135              198              491    70

 

Accommodations

Even if you’re on a tour, you may have some free days to tour and you’ll need a place to stay. Israelis are wonderfully accommodating and if you have long-lost relatives, they’re more than likely to be excited to meet you and offer you a bed.

If you don’t have friends or family in Israel, it is usually possible to find people who will take you in, particularly for Shabbat. This is one of the best ways to really get to know Israelis.

Some yeshivas will also let people stay in their dorms. Keep in mind that you are allowed to visit in the hope you’ll decide to spend a prolonged period studying there, but usually there’s no requirement that you attend classes. Of course, you might find the opportunity to study with some of the world’s leading scholars rewarding.

 

Israel has youth hostels that are inexpensive and part of the international hostel system.

 

Many kibbutzim also have guest houses. Though less luxurious than hotels, don’t expect them to be cheap.

 

Israel has camp grounds as well in many of the beautiful parks around the country and in the desert.

Shopping

 

Israel is a good place to buy souvenirs. As in other Middle Eastern countries, haggling in Israel is a tradition. Keep the following points in mind when you’re shopping:

 

    *

 

      It is rare that you should ever have to pay the full price listed on an item (note this applies mostly to souvenirs, not everything in the markets and is not true of ordinary retail shops like department stores).

    *

 

      Always be ready to walk out of a shop and don’t be surprised if the sales person follows you out.

    *

 

      Don’t think you’ll get any better deal from Jews than Arabs. Sometimes the opposite is true.

    *

 

      The merchants in the market in the Old City, in particular, can be very aggressive. Don’t be intimidated. Remember, you’re the customer and it is their job to satisfy you.

    *

 

      Keep in mind what you can afford and don’t let yourself be talked into paying more. You’ll probably see the same items in more than one store, so shop around before you decide.

    *

 

      Be clear on the exchange rate before you buy.

    *

 

      Haggling is an art, and involves some gamesmanship, but it isn’t polite to waste a merchant’s time if you have no intention of buying something.

 

Items common in the U.S., such as film and books are likely to be more expensive in Israel than at home. By paying with a credit card, you can usually get a better exchange rate. Sometimes you can get a better price if you pay with U.S. dollars.

 

Also, Israel assesses a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 17% on goods and services. Prices should include this tax. For purchases over $50, you can get a refund of the tax at the airport before you leave. To do so you’ll want to get to the airport early so you can go to the customs office. When you make your purchase, the merchant should put it in a clear plastic bag with a copy of the receipt inside. Keep the original. The bag must be sealed and remained unopened to get the refund.

Staying in Touch

 

If you can’t live without knowing what’s happening in the U.S., you can watch CNN in most hotels and pick up an International Herald Tribune newspaper. The Jerusalem Post is the only daily Israeli paper in English. Channel 1 on television also has programs in English and recent movies are in the theaters with Hebrew subtitles.

 

Long-distance phone calls can get very expensive, especially if made from a hotel room, where substantial service charges are added. Most major long-distance companies have numbers in Israel that allow you to use their rates. It may be less private, but you’ll save money using public phones. A prepaid phone card can also be purchased from the Post Office.

 

Cell phones are probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to communicate in Israel and you may find it remarkable how good the service is compared to the United States. While I often can’t talk to my wife right near my home in Maryland, I had no trouble talking to her from the middle of the desert or anywhere else in Israel. If you are planning to use a cell phone in Israel purchased in the United States, be sure that it is either a triband or quadband. Check with your provider before you leave to be sure the phone will work in Israel; you may also need to pay extra for an international calling plan. You can also rent cell phones at the airport when you arrive in Israel. You will have to pay a fixed price for the phone and an allocation of minutes. If you go over the allotment, additional charges apply and there is no rebate for unused minutes.

A Final Thought

 

Israel is like a museum. You will see relics that date from antiquity, buildings that are not considered old unless they were built thousands of years ago. Israel offers you a time portal, almost like the ones you see in science fiction movies, through which to see the past. Virtually every step you take is on ground many consider to be holy. You can visit all the sites and have a wonderful time and learn a lot, but if you think of Israel only as a museum, a place no different than Rome or Athens, you will miss perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Israel — the vibrancy of the modern Jewish state and its people. Israel has increasingly become Westernized and “Americanized,” but it is still a place very different from any other on earth.

 

 

 

Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David’s Tower. I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker.

 

“You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head.”

 

“But he’s moving, he’s moving!” I said to myself: Redemption will come only if their guide tells them, “You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”

 

–Yehuda Amichai

 

You are in Israel to have fun, make friends, experience different cultures and learn about your heritage. It is a trip of a lifetime, so make the most of it!

 

MONEY

MONEY & ATM’s

•        U.S.  dollars are accepted in many places but not everywhere.

•        Don’t bring Traveler’s Checks as they are difficult to exchange. Expect to be charged a small handling fee if using a credit card. Don’t be offended by this. Credit cards are accepted more often than U.S. currency or traveler’s checks.

•        If you have an ATM or debit card (with a password), you can get shekels with it almost everywhere.

•        Do not change money at the airport. It is too expensive. We will help you change money at the best exchange rate.

 

NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES TRAVELING TO

You can travel between Israel, Jordan and Egypt we can arrange this for you.

 

RELIGIOUS CUSTOMS

Are all the restaurants in Israel kosher?

Places offering kosher food usually display a kashrut certificate granted to them by the local rabbinate. Most hotels serve kosher food, as well as some restaurants. But there is no binding law. So if kashrut is important to you, you must check it out at each separate place where you dine.

Is everything closed on Shabbat in Israel?

Shabbat, or Saturday, is the Jewish holy day of the week. Shabbat starts on Friday afternoon/evening and ends on Saturday evening. All public offices in Israel are closed on Shabbat, as are most private businesses such as stores. In most cities, public transportation (trains and buses) does not operate. In mainly secular cities, like Tel Aviv, a lot of the restaurants and cafes are open but throughout the country many restaurants are closed. It is recommended to check in advance if you are planning on visiting a specific location. Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.

SAFETY

Israel is an extremely safe country to visit and to tour. In 2010, three and a half million tourists came to Israel, an all-time record, and all three million went back home safe and sound. We would not encourage tourists to come if we felt they would be in the slightest danger. 

 

We have never taken a group to Israel where anyone felt the first sense of concern while here in Israel. When asked how secure our people felt in Israel, the unanimous response has been as follows (and this is a direct quote from one of our group)…

 

“The trip was great, and never for one moment did I feel that I was in danger. The security provided us was superb.”

 

Tourism is a very important industry to Israel, and the State of Israel goes to great lengths to safeguard every tourist.

 

TRANSPORTATION

Where can I rent a car in Israel?

Read about renting a car in Israel here.

Do I need an international driving license?

If you wish to drive a car in Israel, you must hold a valid international driver’s license.

For information about car rental, visit this page.

FLIGHT TO & FROM ISRAEL

 

Important travel notes:

 

•        Pay very close attention when making flight reservations so that you arrive and leave on the correct dates. You should arrive in Israel the afternoon (early afternoon is ideal) of the day the itinerary says we will hold our Orientation Meeting (unless you have made arrangements with us to arrive on a different date). If you are traveling from the western hemisphere, you will fly overnight and arrive the next day. If you schedule an early arrival, we will place you in a hotel (usually in Tel Aviv) and the cost will be passed on to you.

•        Return flight (this is where you really need to be careful!): Most return flights to the west leave Tel Aviv late at night or in the early morning hours—usually between 11:45 PM and 5:30 AM the next morning.  Make sure your return flight does not have you leaving the morning of the final day of the itinerary! For instance, if your return flight leaves at 12:15 AM, make sure the date is the morning after our final “farewell” dinner. We don’t want you to find yourself leaving the morning of the final day of your Israel Experience. See the website’s itinerary for exact dates.

•        We will pick you up upon arrival and return you to the airport after our final “farewell dinner”. Try not to book a flight to Tel Aviv that arrives in the morning hours as this makes transferring to the hotel difficult. Hotels are not ready to receive new guests until early afternoon. If at all possible, make your reservations so that you arrive in Israel in the early afternoon (hopefully not later than around 5PM). If you are unable to obtain reservations within these recommended schedules, we will work with whatever flight times you are able to secure.

 

Ok, you are at the gate. Your plane awaits…the excitements mounts. After take-off and checking out all the neat little amenities and freebies on board (freebies?), the novelty begins to wear off. Hours and miles across the ocean yawn ahead of you. Below are some tips for making your flight as easy as possible.

 

•        Stay up as late as possible a few nights prior to traveling east. This will help with jet-lag.

•        Dress comfortably for the flight. Wear comfortable clothes that allow freedom of movement as you will most likely be trying to sleep on the flight. Take something long sleeved as it tends to get cool/cold on a long flight.

•        Take off your shoes and make yourself as comfortable as possible right away.

•        Do not drink alcohol, caffeine or carbonated beverages. Choose natural fruit juices and water. Drink these often so you are forced to get up and walk around often (to the restroom). This will help with blood circulation.

•        If you can’t sleep on a plane, consider taking along at least one good book that will keep you occupied for most of the flight.

•        Store anything you are not going to use in the overhead compartment. You’ll be much more comfortable with a minimum of things in your way.

•        If you find yourself extremely exhausted upon arrival in Israel, take a brief nap after hotel check-in.

 

TRAVEL TO ISRAEL

1. Travel by Air

Most of the international airlines operate flights to Israel.  El Al, operates many direct flights from the United States, Europe, the Far East, and Africa. 

Other Israeli airlines such as Arkia and Israir operate flights from central locations in Europe.  There are no direct flights to Israel from distant locations such as Australia or South Africa, or from countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel.  It is therefore a good idea to reserve a connecting flight from these places, or to arrive in Europe and then purchase a ticket to Israel.

 

Which airlines fly to Israel?

Another option for arrival by sea is to join a Mediterranean cruise which includes Israel in its itinerary. Passengers can board in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey or Egypt and enter Israel through Haifa Port, Tel Aviv, Ashdod or Eilat. After the passengers and vessels complete border and customs clearance procedures, they can continue to any of Israel’s marinas. (Besides those mentioned, there are marinas in Jaffa, Acre, Herzliya and Ashkelon.) Arrival via private yacht is also possible and requires reservations several weeks in advance for a berth in the marina of choice.

Travel by Land

Land entry into Israel is possible through Egypt and Jordan with whom Israel has peaceful relations.  Border crossings are under the jurisdiction of the Israel Airports Authority.

 

WEATHER

          In western Israel, dew falls almost daily (about 11” per year). Farmers leave rocks in the soil because the rocks cool quickly during the evenings and collect the dew, keeping the soil moist.

 

          Due to its diverse climate regions, Israel produces one of largest number of species of plants, fruits and vegetables in the world (about 3,000). It also contains one of the world’s largest assortment of animals.

 

•        The rainy season is normally October through March but that doesn’t mean it never rains any other time of year. Summer is hot but weather depends on the location as the weather varies greatly from place to place. At other seasons, it is usually comfortable but can still be hot midday & cool/breezy at night.

Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible amounts in the southern areas.

Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev.

Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall in the mountain regions to periodic oppressively hot dry winds that send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.

For a table of average annual temperatures, click here.

To find out the weather in Israel now, visit this link.

Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible

Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev. amounts in the southern areas.

Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall in the mountain regions to periodic oppressively hot dry winds that send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT WHILE IN ISRAEL

•        Expect to be delighted, surprised and confused by almost everything you see and hear.

•        Remember offenses and confusion are caused by expectations. So, have an open mind.

•        Few people visit Israel without preconceived expectations about something. Whatever pictures your mind gets when you read the Bible will change once you are actually in the land of the Bible!

•        Security is everywhere and you will not be allowed to go anyplace that is deemed problematic. The officials guard tourists with great care; therefore, our itinerary may change at any time.

•        Everyone speaks English. Israel is not a good place to learn Hebrew because Israelis like to take every opportunity to use their English. Nevertheless, they appreciate any effort you make to speak their language. One of the Notes you will receive contains the most common Hebrew expressions.

•        You will see people begging anywhere there are crowds or in any large town. Westerners typically don’t like beggars. However, a Jew considers that giving to a begger is fulfilling a commandment of God. Beggars, on the other hand, consider that they are offering others the opportunity to obey God. Each of you will have to decide what to do with this issue. Some of you will not have enough discretionary money to give to beggars. Yet, the Lord may just prompt you to give to some, anyway. Don’t ever feel guilty for what you do in Israel.

•        Most of the Israelis you will encounter simply want the Arabs to go somewhere else. This is another attitude which may be difficult to understand unless you have gone to the effort to become informed about the history of Arab-Israeli relations. If you are interested in becoming so informed, read some of the books I have recommended in another Note.

•        Israel is a place of great contrasts, especially among Jews, themselves. Many wish Israel was not a religious country at all. We will discuss these contrasts. Israelis consider Israel to be their rightful land and they will do anything to settle it, live on it and protect their right to it.

•        Young & Old: One of the contrasts that you will see everywhere is that Israel is both young and old. Although Israel, as a nation, is young, it contains much that is ancient, including many of its buildings as well as the infrastructure of its oldest cities. Try not to be put off by what appears to be a general lack of maintenance or cleanliness. Every people-group in the world has a different perspective regarding what constitutes acceptable levels of cleanliness. We want you to be comfortable in Israel; if something is not acceptable to you, you must let us know so we can do something about it if at all possible.

•        Litter: Israel is a Middle Eastern country and Middle Easterners don’t have the same attitude toward ecology (including litter) as do Westerners. Israel is not as messy as some other Middle Eastern countries, but Israelis don’t seem to mind litter. If you are from a northern European country where cleanliness really is next to godliness, you might be offended. Overlook clutter and litter as best you can.

•        Jews have had thousands of years to think about things and their perspectives on just about everything are very different than everyone else’s. This can be both frustrating and fascinating. Always be in “learner mode”.

•        Westerners (especially those from the southeast) often say they think Israelis are rude, aggressive, unpleasant, argumentative, loud and opinionated. Israelis do speak loudly (some say the yell at one another) and they are opinionated. They drive aggressively. If you enter their store they won’t ask to help you nor will they thank you when you make a purchase. They will step in front of you in line as if you weren’t there first. Girls on a bus will refuse to take a seat you offer to them because they don’t want to be perceived as not being as strong or capable as a man. 60 years of strife and difficulty have put an intensity in these people so that they don’t display many of the social graces Americans take for granted. Israeli Jews are no respecter of persons and don’t like pretense.  Be real. They don’t like people acting “religious”.

•        Israelis appreciate tourists. They know their country is portrayed in the media as being somewhat unsafe and they respect people who come anyway. In fact, they respect anyone who is not afraid to do what he wants to do. Israelis feel that the U.S. is far more dangerous than their own country. After all, we lose 3,000 at one time and people are murdered in our cities daily! This is something they simply cannot imagine.

 

 

 

WHAT TO PACK/ WHAT TO BRING

WHAT TO PACK

Everyone packs too much for a trip to Israel. No matter how often I travel to Israel, and no matter how little I pack, I always pack too much. When packing for Israel, always think: fewer, smaller, and lighter.

 

 

Israel is a modern, developed country, and you can purchase virtually anything you need during your stay, including clothing, cosmetics, and hygiene products.

Israel Solidarity Tours can send you a recommended packing list for summer and winter

 

WHAT TO WEAR WHILE IN ISRAEL

There are 4 considerations in determining what you will take with you to wear in Israel. They are: Appropriateness, Comfort, Quantity and Maintenance.

 

 

BUYING IN ISRAEL

          Shopping in malls or in town

•        The price of merchandise in most Israeli stores is usually set at the fair market price. If you want to be sure that you are not overpaying, you can compare the price of the item (or a similar item) at other stores.

•        Anytime you spend more than $100.00 with a merchant, be sure you receive a “VAT form” so you can get your tax refunded at the airport before you leave the country. Some merchants are not part of the VAT program and will tell you so.

 

          Shopping and Bargaining in the Shuk

•        Shopping  in the shuk (the market place) is a worthwhile experience.

 

How is business done in the shuk?

The prices in the shuk  are set to be many times higher than what the merchants expect you to pay. They will cajole, bargain, flatter, and even invite you to tea or coffee; anything to keep you in their store and make you feel obliged to do business with them.

•        Decide the absolute maximum you are willing to pay before showing any interest in the item. This is crucial.  Don’t agree to pay more than what you have already  decided. The merchant knows how much he can sell it for and still make a profit. If he will not agree to the price you want to pay he will not object to  your leaving the store. If he lets you go, you know your price   is really too low.

 

Don’t forget however that this is how these Israeli and Arab merchants  earn their  living. So if you really like something and can afford it, go ahead and buy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COST OF A TRIP TO ISRAEL

•        The major cost of any travel is simply “getting there”.

Therefore, we believe it makes sense to spend as much time in Israel as possible once you have paid the price to fly there.

The airport in Israel is called Ben Gurion International Airport, Tel Aviv (TLV).

 

•        Land: Cost of the land portion depends on the season of travel, the length of the tour and the number of individuals staying in a room.

•        Air: Flight costs are dependent upon the traveler’s point of origin, time of year, how many stops you make, etc.

•        Tips: Tips are an added cost of any overseas travel and are not usually included in prices quoted by travel agencies. Tips are customarily given at the end of any tour.

 

COMMUNICATING WITH HOME

When dialing overseas, dial the three-digit dial code of the company you choose to dial from (012, 013, or 014)  followed by the country code, area code, and telephone number.

•        Many travelers rent a cell phone, sim card for your current cell phone or use a laptop.

•        E-mail access is available in most places in the country. Some places have free WIFI and some places charge for internet access.

Israel is 7 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.

 

CUSTOMS & VISAS

All visitors to Israel must hold a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date they enter the country.  Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel up to three months from the date of their arrival, in accordance with the conditions of the visa issued to them.

Citizens of the following countries will be issued tourist visas free of charge at every port or entrance terminal to Israel:

 

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany (Persons born after 1.1.28), Gibraltar, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Asia & Oceania: Australia, Fiji Islands, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea

Africa: Central African Republic, Losoto, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland

The Americas: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, St. Kitts, & Nevis, Surinam, Trinidad, & Tobago, The Bahamas, The Dominican Republic, Uruguay, U.S.A.

 

TRAVELING TO NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES

You can travel between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

Important note for tourists continuing from Israel on to Arab countries (except Egypt and Jordan): You should request that an Israeli stamp does not appear on your passport. You must notify the clerk of your request before your documents are stamped.

 

INSURANCE

You can purchase trip cancellation and/or medical insurance prior to leaving the U.S.

 

MONEY

MONEY & ATM’s

•        U.S.  dollars are accepted in most places.

•        Don’t bring Traveler’s Checks as they are difficult to exchange. Expect to be charged a small handling fee if using a credit card so don’t be offended by this. Credit cards are accepted more often than U.S. currency or Traveler’s Checks.

•        If you have an ATM or debit card (with a password), you can get shekels with it almost everywhere.

•        Do not change money at the airport. It is too expensive. We will help you change money at the best exchange rate.

 

 

ELECTRICITY

•        Electrical current in Israel is 220v-240v, 50 cycles. If you pack anything electrical, you will need:

a) A current converter, unless your appliance already has one built in, such as most laptops and camera battery chargers.

b) A plug converter (Israeli plugs are small, 2-prong holes, not slots).  These can be purchased in Israel.

 

HEALTH                 

Do I need to receive any special vaccination before my trip to Israel?

Israel is a modern, developed country with levels of health and hygiene equal to those of Western countries.  Visitors entering Israel are not required to undergo vaccinations prior to their arrival.

 

Can you drink tap water in Israel?

You can drink tap water. But, you will also be able to purchase bottled water everywhere.

Please note: It is very important to make sure you drink a lot, especially when out walking and on hot days.

 

HEBREW WORD GLOSSARY  –  some common Hebrew words

For correct pronunciation – Most Hebrew words are emphasized on the last syllable.

 

Also, “ch” within a word is a guttural sound, like a “ha” made in the back of the throat; not like the English “ch” as in “chat”, but more like the sound of clearing the back of the throat.

 

Hello/goodbye/peace (be to you) – shalom

Good morning – boker tov

How are you? – ma schlomcha?

Good, thank you – Tov, bevakasha

What is your name? – ma shimcha?

Welcome – baruch haba

Please (also You’re welcome) – bevakasha

Thank you (very much) – toda (raba)

See you soon – lehitraot

Sorry – mitztaer

Breakfast – aruchat boker

Dinner – aruchat erev

Table – shulcan

Plate – tzalachat

Fork – masleg

Glass – kohss

Spoon – kahf

Knife – sahkeen

Beef – bakar

Chicken – ohf

Fish – dag

Coffee – kafeh

Tea – teh

Bread – lechem (Bet Lechem, or Bethlehem = house of bread)

Water – mai’im

Juice – meetz

Salad – salat

Dates – t’marim

Wine – yayin

Without sugar – blee sukar

Tasty – taim

More – od

How much is it? kamah zeh oleh?

May I pay with…? – ha’im ani yachol leshalem im?

House – bayit

Swimsuit – beged yam

Money – kesef

Hat – kova

Shoes – naalyim

Come – boey

He – hoo

She – he

Who – me?

What? (say that again) – ma?

Common slang words:

Peace be to you – shalom aleichem.

Great, groovy, cool – Sabbaba (adj.)

“Bro” (when you cannot remember someone’s name) – Achi

The real thing – Achla (n.) ie. “That was achla hummus.”

Hello – Ahalan (n.). “Ahalan, ahi ma koreh?” (Hi, brother, what’s happening?)

Literally, an explosion, but more often used to describe a pretty girl or something great – Petzatza!

What’s happening? (exclamation) – Ma Koreh?

No way! (exclamation) – Ma Pitom!

(What a) downer – Eze Ba-sa

Great! Outasight! (exclamation) – Sof Ha Derech!

Big mess – Balagan.

Move on now. Ya-lah.

Wait just a minute! (or, “chill out”!). Expressed with first two fingers of right hand pressed against thumb and pointing upward – Rak Regah!

Patience – Savlanut

An embarrassing situation – Fadeecha

Goodbye! (very friendly) – Yallah Bye!

Quit (doing that)! Said with exasperation to a child when you want him to stop what he is doing – Die!

1 -achat

2 – shtaim

3 – shalosh

4 – arbah

5 – hamesh

6 – shesh

7 – shevah

8 – teshah

9 – esser

 

=================================================

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *