1. PASSPORTS AND VISAS:
All travelers must have a passport valid through SIX MONTHS AFTER YOUR DEPARTURE FROM ISRAEL. U.S. and Canadian passport holders need no visa to enter Israel. For other nationalities, check with the nearest Israeli consulate. Please make sure your name on your passport matches EXACTLY how you signed up with Keshet
Israel has the highest ratio of doctors to potential patients in the world, but we will try to insure that you do not give them any business during your visit. If you have any special medical problems, please consult with your physician before traveling. While almost all prescription medications are available in Israel, if you are taking a prescribed medicine it is preferable to bring a sufficient supply with you (and extra glasses and lenses) in your carry-on luggage. If any medical problem does arise in Israel, you will have access to a staff of excellent English‑speaking physicians. Please be sure that your health insurance covers foreign travel. To purchase Israeli health insurance for the trip, see #12 below.
Pack a supply of all medications you take regularly. Make sure your supply will be sufficient to last the entire trip, including any unexpected delays. It is recommended to bring along copies of your prescription and, if you have an unusual prescription, carry a letter from your physician explaining your need for the drug. As an extra precaution, carry the generic names of your medications with you because pharmaceutical companies overseas may use different names from those used in the United States.
To prevent problems if your luggage is lost or misrouted, keep medications in their original containers and pack them in carry-on luggage.
4. SAFETY AND SECURITY:
Generally speaking Israel is much safer than all major American cities. Nevertheless, Israeli thieves also have to make a living, so we recommend that you take the usual traveling precautions, such as keeping a separate copy of your travelers check and passport numbers, not carrying open bags which are a temptation to pickpockets, not leaving your property lying around, etc. We particularly advise keeping your cash and travelers checks in money belts and bringing a photocopy of your passport in case you need to replace it quickly. You are welcome and in fact advised to deposit passports for safekeeping in the hotel safe, while you travel the country with a good photocopy. It is also recommended that you laminate a photocopy of your passport to serve as identification.
Please do not accept parcels from strangers who ask you to deliver them to Israel. You will be asked about this before boarding the plane and it is best to be able to answer truthfully. While in Israel do not leave parcels, knapsacks or other baggage unattended in public places.
Israel has a Mediterranean climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters. Throughout the day in the winter, the weather may range from cold to mild (40s to low 70s and possibly warmer (upper 70s) in the desert). In the summer, it is generally hot throughout the day, and can be chilly at night in Jerusalem and Zefat. Make sure to pack layers in the winter, as well as your raingear. No matter when you travel to Israel, be sure to take sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
The arid climate in most of Israel means that, especially in summer, one loses fluids without necessarily noticing. In other words your body can require you to drink without making you thirsty. We will be providing an insulated mineral water holder to each participant and stocking the bus with mineral water that you may purchase at very reasonable rates. Tap water in Israel is fine to drink but we recommend drinking the excellent mineral water available all over Israel for at least the first few days of adjustment to the climate.
7. Time, Opening Hours & Public Holidays
Israel is at GMT +2 throughout most of the year which means that it is 7 hours ahead of Eastern Time. Israel does switch clocks for day light savings in the Fall and Spring, but not when the United States does which results in Israel being either 6 or 8 hours ahead of the US for a few days. 24-hour time format is used in Israel (i.e. 3:00 PM is 15:00) and the European date format is used in Israel (day, month, year—i.e. March 27, 2006 is 27/3/06).
The Israeli workweek is Sunday through Thursday with the "weekend" falling on Friday and Saturday, which coincides with the Jewish Sabbath. Stores are generally opened Sunday thru Thursday 9-7 and on Fridays from 9-2. Stores, banks, and offices are closed on Saturdays. Banking hours vary from bank to bank and branch to branch. They are usually open in the mornings daily and late afternoons a few afternoons a week. Museum hours are 9 or 10-4 or 5, Sunday thru Thursday and 10-2 on Fridays and Saturdays.
Jewish holidays are National holidays in Israel. Since the Jewish calendar is lunar, adjusted to the solar Gregorian calendar, the holidays "float" from year to year. They usually fall in the same month from year to year but not on the same day. In addition to the Jewish holidays, there are a number of Israeli National Holidays: Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Memorial Day, and Independence Day. These fall in the late Spring.
On Jewish Holidays and the weekly Sabbath, many shops and services are closed.
Faxes can be sent to you directly at the hotels. You may also send faxes from any hotel in Israel for a fee. AT&T, Sprint, and MCI calling cards may be used from payphones and regular phones by dialing an access code, toll free. Dial the appropriate number from any phone, toll free, and get ENGLISH instructions for placing calls.
AT&T 180-949-4949; 180-922-2222; 180-933-3333
MCI Worldphone 180-920-2727; 180-930-2727; 180-940-2727
Sprint 180-938-7000; 180-949-4102;
Calls to you from the United States: The country code for Israel is 972. The area code for Jerusalem is 2, for Tel Aviv 3, for the south 8 and for the Galilee 4. Example: A call from New York to Jerusalem would be dialed as follows: 011-972-2-seven digit phone number. Cell phones generally have a two digit area code beginning with a 5 (50, 52, 54, 57). A call from New York to 52 would be dialed as follows: 011-972-52- seven digit phone number.
Israel has one of the most sophisticated communications networks in the world and one of the highest per capita numbers of cellphones and computers of any country in the world. Please note that given the proliferation of cell phones, public pay phones are becoming more difficult to find.
Many hotels now have Wireless internet access (for a fee) and there are numerous internet cafes throughout Jerusalem and other cities. Many cafes and restaurants also have free Wireless Internet.
It will probably be championship season in some American sport during your trip, but not to worry: Sports and other minor international developments are covered in the local English‑language dailies, The Jerusalem Post, and the Ha'aretz‑ International Herald Tribune. Israeli radio broadcasts news in English once or twice a day, and you can receive BBC World Service on standard radios.
10. SUGGESTED READING & SOURCES
There are no required readings, testing, or grades, but coming to the program with some background and knowledge and awareness will greatly enhance your enjoyment of the experience. Your local library, video or bookstore, and the Internet are excellent resources.