FAQ - Mission to Israel | Shalom Austin

ISRAEL MISSION FAQS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Shalom Austin has partnered with Makor Educational Journeys for its 2023 Community Missions Trip to Israel.

Makor Educational Journeys was established in September 2013 as a joint venture between Ezra Korman and IGT, International Group Travel, with the intention of creating and implementing in-depth and educationally-oriented travel programs to Israel and other destinations of Jewish interest around the world. The synthesis of IGT’s outstanding travel and administrative infrastructure with Ezra’s vast experience in developing and implementing unique and creative travel experiences to almost all points in the Jewish world, puts Makor at the forefront of the educational travel field. As a division of IGT, Makor is fully integrated into the IGT administrative and operational structure. The IGT team covers all aspects of preparation and implementation of any type of project, large or small. For more information about Makor, visit makorjourneys.com/about. 

Below are some of the frequently asked questions which have been provided by Makor. To see the full list of FAQs, please visit makorjourneys.com.

Travel

 

Do I need a visa to travel to Israel?

No. Americans, Canadians and citizens of most western countries need just a valid passport to come to Israel: no visa is required. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you leave Israel. Please take a moment to check the validity of your passport and order a new one if necessary.

How many suitcases can I take?

All airlines flying to Israel allow passengers flying in economy class to check one suitcase under the plane and take one carry on and one personal bag on to the plane. The allowance for business class is generally two checked bags. Please check your flight documents to confirm prior to flying.

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

No. Israel is an entirely western country with an advanced level of hygiene, healthcare, diagnosis and medicine that is the envy of much of the world and on a par with the best of North America and Western Europe.

Can I drink the tap water in Israel?

Absolutely. Tap water in Israel is safe and delicious. And you will also find bottled mineral water everywhere. It’s important to make sure you drink a lot, especially if you are walking, hiking or exercising during hot weather.

Will I need an adapter for my electrical appliances in Israel?

The electric current in Israel is 220 volts, C, single phase, 50 Hertz – the same as in Europe. Most Israeli sockets are three-pronged but most accept European two-pronged plug, for which you need a plug adapter. If your appliance does not work on 220 volts, you will need a voltage adaptor (transformer). Your hotels should have adapters and transformers available.
Most hotel bathrooms have hair-dryers as well as low-wattage, American-style sockets for electric shavers, in which you can usually charge your cell-phone or tablet.

Transportation

 

How will we get around in Israel?

We have arranged a private luxury bus(es) for your group. The group will travel together on the same bus(es) throughout the trip.

How do I get around during my (limited) free time?

Private taxi – a more expensive option, taxis can be flagged down or ordered by phone almost anywhere and they will take you around town or between cities.

Buses – the most popular form of transportation in Israel. You can buy tickets at any city’s central bus station or from the driver at any of the bus stops. Please note that most buses don’t operate in Israel on Saturdays (Shabbat). For schedules and fares of buses in Israel, please visit the Egged website.

Train – the Israel Railways is an affordable, easy way to travel between major cities in Israel. Please note that the trains don’t operate in Israel on Saturdays (Shabbat). For train schedules and fares, please visit the Israel Railways website.

What are the distances between major cities?

Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: 37 miles, 50 minutes
Tel Aviv to Tiberias/Galilee: 81 miles, 100 minutes
Tel Aviv to Ramon Crater: 130 miles, 150 minutes
Tel Aviv to Haifa: 90 miles, 70 minutes
Jerusalem to Tiberias: 109 miles, 120 minutes
Jerusalem to Masada: 56 miles, 90 minutes

Communications

 

Will I have easy Internet access?

Most hotels in Israel have Wi-Fi available for hotel guests at customary prices. Many cafes and restaurants offer a complimentary Wi-Fi service. Since September 2013, both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offer citywide free Wi-Fi network which provides 80 free Internet “hot spots” across the central parts of the cities.

Will I be able to use my cell phone in Israel?

If you have an international plan, your cell phone may work in Israel. Please check with your local provider about calling and data packages.

What is the country code to dial to Israel?

+ 972

Weather

 

What is the weather like in Israel?

Israel enjoys long, hot, dry summers, with variation in humidity between cities and regions.
Winter temperatures can vary widely between cities and regions. Jerusalem and the Golan/Galilee are generally colder; Tel Aviv, the desert and Eilat are milder. Winter is the rainy season all over the country. The best thing is to travel with layers and rainwear.

What kind of clothing should I pack?

All of the clothing you bring should be comfortable; no need for full formal wear. You can bring business casual clothes for Shabbat and modest clothing for certain areas of Jerusalem and Safed.

What do I pack for day trips?

Each participant should bring their own day pack to carry whatever they might want during the day – camera, journal, sweater, phone, and personal things. It is not advisable to load the bag with too many items.

Money and Currency

 

What is the currency in Israel?

Israel’s currency is the Shekel; you’ll find it abbreviated as NIS (New Israeli Shekel).

What credit cards are accepted?

You can use your ATM card to obtain shekels at ATM’s throughout Israel. You can also use American Express, MasterCard and Visa cards at most Israeli hotels, restaurants and stores. Before the trip, remember to notify your credit card companies and bank about your upcoming international trip!

Should I purchase Shekels before the trip?

You can purchase shekels either before the trip or once you arrive in Israel.

When do I tip and when can I bargain?

In restaurants, if the bill does not include service, a 12% tip can be added. In hotels, the bellhop and other service providers can be tipped. Taxi drivers are not usually tipped.
You can bargain in open-air markets but not in stores or restaurants.

Religious Customs

 

Is everything closed on Shabbat in Israel?

Shabbat (the Sabbath) is the Jewish holy day of the week observed every Saturday. Shabbat starts at sunset on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday evening. All public offices are closed on Shabbat, as are banks, most stores and businesses; throughout Israel there is a growing number of shops open on Shabbat. In most cities, public transportation (trains and buses) do not operate on Shabbat. Most non-kosher restaurants are open on Shabbat. Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.

Are all restaurants in Israel kosher?

Not all of the restaurants in Israel are 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.

Can I wear regular clothes?

Absolutely. Israelis wear what people in any Western country would wear, for the most part. The key to fashion in Israel is informal and casual. Some religious sites require long pants for men and clothing that covers the shoulders and knees for women. Please be sure you are prepared for these sites.

Trip Insurance

 

Should I get trip insurance?

Yes. Makor urges you to purchase cancellation insurance and supplemental medical coverage (which covers preexisting conditions). While you are free to purchase insurance from any company of your choice, Makor has made arrangements with SMS-Travel Insurance Center of Omaha, Nebraska. SMS has over 25 years of experience as worldwide insurance brokers and can help you choose the policy that best meets your needs.
Contact person: Yonah Engel
E-mail:  info@travelinsuranceisrael.com
USA phone: 1-888-747-3773
Mention promo code: IGT-MAKOR
Please note: We cannot accept responsibility for any losses or expenses, which you or any member of your party may incur as a result of failure to secure adequate insurance coverage.

Amy Hyman

Amy Hyman

Senior Development Director

(512) 735-8078

amy.hyman@shalomaustin.org

 

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