Touching the Spirit & Soul of Israel 

An Israel Travel Adventure

October 15 - 27, 2017

Co-Sponsored by: Community Scholar Program, Congregation B'nai Israel,

Temple Beth El of South Orange County & Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


1. VISA:

 

Do I need a visa to travel to Israel?

No. Americans, Canadians and citizens of most western countries need just a passport to come to Israel: no visa is required. Your passport must be valid for at least six months from the date you enter the country.  

Please take a moment to check the validity of your passport in re next October per above and order a new one if necessary.

 

2. SAFETY:

 

Is it safe to travel to Israel?

Yes. Israel is an extremely safe country to visit and tour. In 2016, close to four million tourists came to Israel, an all-time record, and all of them went back home again safe and sound.

We would not encourage tourists to come if we felt they would be in the slightest danger.

 

Are tourists allowed to enter areas outside of the Israeli responsibility (Palestinian areas)?

 

Crossing from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is direct, easy and no prior authorization is required. Hundreds of tourists make the crossing in both directions every day. As always, it’s wise to check on the political situation before entering the Palestinian Authority. Please note to take your passport with you, you’ll need to present it to re-enter Israeli-controlled territory.

 

3. HEALTH:

 

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, health care, 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 you drink tap water in Israel?

Absolutely. Tap water in Israel is safe and delicious. But, 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.)

 

4. TRAVELING TO AND FROM ISRAEL:

 

Can I combine visits to Jordan with my visit to Israel?

Absolutely, many visitors to Israel take a day tour to Petra in Jordan. You can fly between Tel Aviv and Amman, or travel overland through a number of border crossings. (You should check with the Jordan tourist offices if you need to obtain a visa before you leave home.)

 

Can I choose not to have an Israel stamp in my passport in case I travel to some countries that don’t recognize Israel?

Sure. Israel no longer stamps tourists’ passports. Records are now kept electronically. 

 

5. GETTING THERE:

Which airlines fly to Israel?

More than 80 airlines operate flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport (known simply as Tel Aviv or TLV). Five airlines operate as many as ten flights a day nonstop from North America to Tel Aviv (Air Canada, Delta, EL AL Israel Airlines, United, US Airways).  See the group flight information in Item 12 below.

 

6. TRANSPORTATION:

 

How will we get around in Israel?

Makor has arranged a private bus for our group.  Our tour includes all airport transfers while in Israel.  The group will travel together in one bus most of the time, except for certain options in the itinerary (like the Masada/Dad Sea option) where participants might take a small private bus to the selected itinerary.

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

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

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

Rent a car – International car rental chains have offices in Israel, and there are multiple Israel-based car rental companies. you can rent a car in all of Israel’s major cities and at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. It’s recommended to reserve a car before you arrive. Driving in Israel is on the right-hand side of the road , and most signage is written in Hebrew, English and Arabic.

*Don’t use a hand-held phone while driving: it’s against the law.

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 Masada​                        ​  63 miles, 90 minutes

  • Tel Aviv to Haifa​                            ​ 90 miles, 70 minutes

  • ​Jerusalem to Tiberias                     ​  109 miles, 120 minutes

  • ​Jerusalem to Masada                     ​   56 miles, 90 minutes

 

7. ELECTRICITY:

 

Will I need an adapter for my 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.​ 

 

8. 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 complementary Wi-Fi service. Since September 2013, Tel Aviv offers a citywide free Wi-Fi network which provides 80 free Internet “hot spots” across the city.

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.

Can I rent a cellular phone in Israel?

Certainly. You can rent a phone when you arrive at any time during your visit. Read about renting a cellular phone here.

What is the country code to dial to Israel?

+ 972

 

9. WEATHER

What is the weather like in Israel, when is the best time to visit?

Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers and generally mild winters with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Temperatures can vary widely so just pack for the "right" weather and you'll be fine. For more specific information, click here.​

What kind of clothing should I pack?

In Summer and Fall, lightweight T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, shorts, and a bathing suit are recommended. Pack a sweater or a jacket for nights in the mountains or the desert.  We will supply a suggested packing list for the trip. 

Some religious sites require long pants for men and clothing that covers the shoulders and knees for women.​

 

10. MONEY AND CURRENCY

What is the currency in Israel?

The Shekel; you’ll find it abbreviated as NIS (New Israeli Shekel). Exchange rates of the Shekel to all foreign currencies as well as other information can be found here.

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 trip!

 

Should I purchase Shekels before the trip?

No.  It’s better to get Shekels once you arrive in Israel.  The exchange rate is better.

 

What taxes can I expect to pay in Israel?

The Vat (Value Added Tax) in Israel is 18%. It’s already included in most prices in Israel. VAT is waived for tourists at hotels, tour companies and car rental agencies. Like in Europe and elsewhere, tourists can receive a refund of the VAT they paid on purchases when departing the country, the refund program and the purchase amount in one tax invoice including V.A.T. must exceed ILS. 400. For more information, click here.

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.

 

11. 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.

  • ​It is recommended to check in advance if you are planning on visiting a specific location. 

  • ​​Radio and TV broadcasts operate as usual.

For more information about Shabbat, click here.

 

Are all the 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. So if kashrut is important to you, you must check it out at each separate place where you dine. For more information, Click here. 

Please note that all of the restaurants we will eat at on our trip are certified kosher.

What are the phone numbers for emergency services?

100 – Police

101 – Magen David Adom

102 – Fire Department

Tourist Police – 972-(0)3-5165382

 

12. TOUCHING THE SOUL OF ISRAEL TRIP DETAILS:

Why should I take this trip?

Our “Touching the Spirit and Soul of Israel” trip is unique in many ways.  It is a one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-repeated, adventure of all five senses that will take you back to the time of Abraham and catapult you forward into the 21st Century. You will meet poets and politicians, artists and musicians, archeologists and writers, kabbalists and theologians, thought leaders and community activists, who are creating a new reality in our ancient homeland.  While our general route is set, on many days, we offer participants flexibility in choosing from a list of morning and/or afternoon options.  While everyone is on the same trip, you will each have unique adventures!

 

Is this a trip appropriate for first-time visitors to Israel or for those who have visited Israel in the past?

We have crafted an itinerary that will satisfy both first-time visitors and even the most frequent Israel visitors.  We will spend time in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tsefat, Tiberias and the Galilee, and offer a day excursion to Masada and the Dead Sea.  On many days, we offer morning and/or afternoon options – so you can craft your own itinerary within our overall trip.

What is the maximum number of people you are taking to Israel?

The maximum we can take is 48.  That’s the most we want to take on our bus.  Once we reach 48 reservations, we will start a wait list.  If we get enough people to justify a second bus, or if we have any cancellations, we will accept people from the wait list based on when people have signed up to be on the wait list (i.e. “first come first served”).

What is the per person price to participate in the tour?

Registration Date                                Cost

Before December 15, 2016                 $3,875 PP/Double Occupancy

After December 15, 2016                   $3,975 PP/Double Occupancy

Single Supplement                             $1,125

 

Can you help me find a room-mate?

Yes.  Please tell us that you would like a room-mate when you register and we will do our best to pair you up with a compatible room-mate.

Is Air-fare included?

No.  Airfare is extra.  We are arranging a special group rate and will be in touch shortly with the details.  We expect the price to be around $1,600 per person.  You will have the option to upgrade to Business Class or First Class for an extra cost.  When you register, we will be in touch to discuss travel plans.

Can I arrange my own flight itinerary? Do I have to travel with the group?

You are welcome to make your own travel plans.  In past years, participants have elected to arrive early or stay late in order to spend more time in the Country to be with friends and family or just explore.  If you want to use air-miles, we suggest you do this as soon as possible. 

Please plan on arriving in Israel by October 16th and departing no earlier than October 27th.

How do I get a spot on the trip?

Please register at this LINK.  Registrations are accepted on a “first come first served basis”.  As soon as we reach 40 reservations, we will start a wait-list.

When are final payments due?

March 1, 2017 – 50%

June 1, 2017 – Remainder of amounts owed

What is the cancellation policy?

Cancellation after                              Refund

March  15, 2017                                Full refund less $250 per person

July 1, 2017                                       Full refund less $ 1,200

Sept 1, 2017                                     No Refund

 ** Fully refundable with cancellation prior to 11:59 PM PST on March 15, 2017

Please tell us something about our travel company.

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 http://www.makorjourneys.com/about.

 

Can you address my special dietary needs?

Yes, please tell us what your needs are when you register and we will make sure to take care of you on the trip.

 

Should I get trip insurance?

Yes.  Makor urges you to purchase cancellation insurance and supplemental medical coverage (which covers preexisting conditions). Please note that most insurance policies require purchase within 14 days of your date of registration for the trip.  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. Our contact person is 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.

Note: Beverly Jacobs HIGHLY recommends the “World-Wide Trip Protector” plan offered by Travel Insured International -  https://www.travelinsured.com

Is there an add-on option after the trip?

 

Yes.  You have the option to spend the weekend at the new 5-star resort, Bereesheet, located at the Ramon Crater (about 2 and a half hours south of Tel Aviv). 

Makhtesh Ramon is a geological feature of Israel's Negev desert. Located at the peak of Mount Negev, some 85 km south of the city of Beersheba in the region of the Nabatean Kingdom 2100 years ago, the landform is not actually an impact crater from a meteor nor a volcanic crater formed by a volcanic eruption, but rather is probably the result of erosion (The phenomenon on Planet Earth is so rare, that geologists use the Hebrew term, which means "mortar", for similar phenomena even in other countries). The crater is 40 km long, 2–10 km wide and 500 meters deep, and is shaped like an elongated heart. The only settlement in the area is the small town of Mitzpe Ramon located on the northern edge of the crater. Today the crater and surrounding area forms Israel's largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve. Costs range from $695 to $880 for 2 nights, inclusive of meals and transportation. More details will follow.

Will there be a group orientation for the trip?

 

Yes, please pencil in Sunday February 26th at 3:00 PM.  More details will follow.

 

Is there anything else I should know about this trip?

 

Yes.  While the itinerary is demanding, it is in many ways a menue of daily options.  If you are feeling a bit tired or need a break, you can always skip an option (other than transfer days between cities)

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