This section provides you information that you will need to know while you are enjoying your Taglit-Birthright Israel: Ezra trip.

Drinking water

It’s very important to drink plenty of water in Israel, especially in the summer. Israeli tap water is perfectly safe to drink. If you prefer bottled water, it is widely available and is quite inexpensive. Often you can buy it from your bus drivers, right on the bus at any time. This way you can give them a little business, and they deserve it, because they do a great job.

Electrical Transformer

If you plan to bring small electrical appliances to Israel, keep in mind that Israel uses a 220 volt electrical current, and that the outlet types are different as well.
In order to avoid “frying” any electrical items, bring a 110V/220V voltage converter. You will also need a socket adapter to plug your items into the wall.
Note: your laptop may have a build-in voltage converter.

Free time during the trip

The Taglit-Birthright Israel: Ezra trip is full with touring and you will find that 10 days is a very short time to be in Israel. There will certainly be some down-time on the trip, and we suggest that you use that time to relax and re-energize.
If you would like to visit with friends or family members while you are in Israel, your best option is to extend your ticket and meet up after the program. If you can only meet during the program, the best time for visiting with family is on the “free evening” of the trip — of which you will be informed by your madrichim.
Just keep in mind that Taglit-Birthright Israel trip rules do not allow for leaving the group under any circumstances, even on the “free evening”.

Mifgash Program
(encounter in Hebrew)

Besides 40 North American participants, 2 Ezra North American madrichim, an Israeli tour guide, a bus driver and two security/medical guards that will be together in the same group during the full 10 day program, 8 Israeli soldiers will join the group for 5 days as a part of Ezra Mifgash program. Envisioned as a way to enhance the experience for participants from abroad, the Mifgash – the encounter and interaction between overseas and Israeli peers – was created as a core educational element of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. The founders of Taglit-Birthright Israel considered the Mifgash a cardinal element in the success of the experience and achievement of its goals. The expectation was, by getting to know their Israeli counterparts; participants from abroad would develop personal relationships giving meaning to their identification with the country and the Jewish people. The Mifgash, like Taglit-Birthright Israel, grew with its success, from short encounters (measured in hours) in the project’s first year to the average five-day experience of today. 7,500 soldiers per year, ever year, now participate in a Mifgash, making up 95% of the Israeli component of the Taglit-Birthright Israel program. The Israeli army, recognizing the educational value of the Mifgash as a factor in strengthening soldiers’ motivation, established a unit dedicated to facilitating participation in Taglit-Birthright Israel and contributes the soldiers’ workdays to the program. This unit has created ongoing systems of recruitment, selection and orientation of participants as well as program evaluation and oversight. Today, with the program an overwhelming success, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hopes to deepen its involvement in Taglit-Birthright Israel. The Mifgash has proven a turning point in the lives of Israelis, strengthening their patriotism and their motivation to serve Israel and the Jewish people. The success of the program and the partnership in increasing the number of overseas participants in Taglit-Birthright Israel has created an exceptional opportunity to also increase the number of Israeli soldiers participating in the Mifgash. More Israeli participants for longer periods of time with their overseas peer group means more benefit to Israel and its future. There is no question that the Mifgash is one of the most transformative parts of the Taglit-Birthright Israel: EZRA trips, and a central element for building global Jewish connections. Taglit-Birthright Israel is passionately committed to guaranteeing and expanding its future.

Medication

If you are taking medication, we recommend that you bring enough medication to last for the entire time that you expect to be in Israel. We also recommend that you pack your medication as part of your carry-on luggage in case your main luggage is delayed.
Please remember to notify us of all medical conditions, including issues that are under control and might seem minor to you, on the Ezra enrollment forms or through email. It is with your health and welfare in mind that we need this information.
Note: all medical records are for our internal use only, and will be kept strictly confidential.

Room assignments

Madrichim will make rooming lists for the hotels. The rule is triple-occupancy, and no co-ed rooms (so 3 boys or 3 girls per room). You can choose your roommates if you wish, by contacting your madrichim. If you don’t have any preferences, the madrichim will assign you to a room with roommates. Couples or siblings who want to share a private room should contact their madrichim.

Special dietary needs

All Ezra trips and programs observe Shabbat and the dietary laws of Kashrut.
There is usually one meal per day that you will be purchasing on your own, typically a light lunch, and you are perfectly free to eat whatever you wish.
People with special dietary restrictions or preferences (i.e. lactose intolerance, vegetarian, gluten free) should contact us in advance to make proper arrangements for the flight and hotels.

Spending money

While this is a free trip, it is a good idea to bring some money. All morning and evening meals in the hotels are already included as part of the program. However, lunch you will usually purchase on your own on location. You may occasionally want to buy snacks, drinks, souvenirs etc.

In Israel it is customary to tip both the tour guide and the bus driver at the end of the program. Our experience is that $65 for the tour guide and $35 for the driver is appropriate for a 10-day trip. Our madrichim will collect the $100 tipping money from the participants and make sure it gets to the tour-guide and bus driver.

We suggest bringing approximately $200 to $250 USD in cash. Almost all stores in Israel accept credit cards. A combination of credit cards, debit cards and cash is ideal. Do not rely on ATM machines as they can be difficult to find. Travelers Checks are also difficult to cash so we do not recommend bringing them. For credit cards and debit cards, please call your banks and let them know that you will be traveling so they don’t block the transactions. Also in Israel they don’t accept Discover card and in some places American Express, so the best choice is Visa or Master Card.

The currency in Israel is Shekel or New Israel Shekel (NIS). For the current US dollar exchange rate click here.

Remember that you are likely to spend more than you anticipate.

Bringing expensive items (jewelry, laptop computers, etc.) is not advised. Most hotels will not have safes or secure places to keep these items, and sometimes things are stolen even from locked rooms. You are responsible for any items you bring. Ezra and the hotels used are not liable for any items lost or left.

Sample Itinerary

Day One

Arrival

Receive a warm welcome home as you arrive in Ben Gurion Airport! Meet your tour guide and get on the road.

HAIFA

Haifa is a northern Israeli port city built in tiers extending from the Mediterranean up the north slope of Mount Carmel. The city’s most iconic sites are the immaculately landscaped terraces of the Bahai Gardens and, at their heart, the gold-domed Shrine of the Bab. At the foot of the gardens lies the German Colony, with shops, galleries and restaurants in 19th-century buildings.

Day Two

Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary

Explore the lush green Hula valley, backdropped by Israel’s biggest mountain – Mt. Hermon. Learn about Israel’s conservation efforts, and the major role this tiny country plays for millions of migrating birds each year.

Nachal Ayun

Hike Nachal Ayun, following the border with Lebanon. See the beauty of four waterfalls up close, as well as Israel’s unique flora 

Misgav Am

Visit one of Israel’s northern Kibbutzim, situated mere meters away from the Lebanese border. Hear from locals about the effect politics have on everyday life in border settlements.

kayaking adventure on the Jordan River

Get ready for a wet and wild run down the Jordan River. Bounce over the rapids with your new friends, then lie back and relax as the river widens, and soak in the sun and the surroundings.

Hotel near the Kinneret

Dinner & Overnight take place in a Hotel near to the Kinneret  (freshwater lake in Israel. It is approximately 53 km in circumference, about 21 km long, and 13 km wide. Its area is 166.7 km² at its fullest, and its maximum depth is approximately 43 m)

Day Three

Mystical city of Tzfat

This ancient Jewish city, birthplace of Kabbalah and Jewish Mysticism, was home to many illustrious Jewish sages and mystics during the 16th century. Set high in the Galilean Mountains, the city is steeped in history with ancient synagogues, ornate and colorful architecture, and some really interesting characters. Now home to a flourishing artist colony, the city has a unique and magical atmosphere.

leket

Ever wanted to be a farmer? Take some time out to help others? Do both of these at the same time. You will harvest a field, working together as a team having great fun, whilst at the same time helping those in need. Everything you pick goes to those who can not afford to put food on the table.

Holocaust SESSION with Madrichim and Holocaust Survivor

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide during World War II in which Nazi Germany, aided by local collaborators, systematically murdered some six million European Jews, around two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe between 1941 and 1945.

Hear the first-hand story of a Holocaust survivor.

Overnight: Hotel in Jerusalem

Jerusalem is the new Israeli capital city in the Middle East, located on a plateau in the Judaean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Day Four

Yad VaShem

Program at Yad VaShem – Israel’s National Memorial to the Holocaust, including visits to the museum, the Children’s Memorial Hall and a memorial service at the Valley of the Lost Communities.

Mount Herzl Military Cemetery

Set in the Jerusalem forest, Mount Herzl is Israel’s national cemetery for the military leaders of the nation. Walk amongst the graves of Israel’s fallen and hear firsthand stories from the soldiers in your group about those who perished defending the people of Israel.Memorial ceremony by the soldiers
Reflection and Feedback Session with Madrichim

Night out in Jerusalem

Day Five

Breakfast Haas Promenade

An overview of Jerusalem from the hilltop promenade! A unique panoramic view of the ancient alongside the new, get a brief overview of 4,000 years of history.

Yemin Moshe

A tour of the first Jewish neighbourhood built outside the walls of the Old City.

Yemin Moshe was established in 1892–1894 by the Montefiore Welfare Fund. Located outside Jerusalem’s Old City, it was conceived as a solution to the overcrowding and unsanitary conditions inside the walls. The Fund was continuing the work done by British Jewish banker Moses Montefiore and the new project was meant to mark the seventh year after the philanthropist’s death

Walking tour of the Old city of Jerusalem

Entering through the Zion Gate, visit the Tomb of King David – the conqueror of Jerusalem. Tour the Jewish Quarter, the Cardo – a 2,000 year old market street, still used today, and the Southern Wall Excavations – where the Jewish People ascended to their Holy Temple in ancient times.

The Kotel (Western Wall):

Place a note in the between the bricks of the Jewish People’s most ancient and beloved holy site.

Machane Yehuda

Explore the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Jerusalem’s open air market. Take a few minutes to talk to locals whilst they shop, hear their stories and thoughts.

Festive Shabbat dinner

Traditional Kabbalat Shabbat with Shabbat prayers and songs together with a festive Shabbat dinner.

The evening activity is a discussion on the subject of “Jewish identity.” Jewish identity is defined in countless ways and has a different meaning for everyone. Voice your opinion on the subject and hear what your peers have to say as well.

Day Six

Workshop

Discuss the importance of being a community member in the Diaspora.

Israel Museum

Enjoy a brief tour of the museum’s model of Jerusalem and Shrine the Book exhibit. Then feel free to explore the remaining galleries with your friends.

Shabbat meal in the hotel

Walking tour

Stroll through the local neighbourhoods, soaking up the unique Shabbat atmosphere only found in Israel.

Havdalah

Say goodbye to the unique Shabbat with the traditional concluding ceremony

Day Seven

Bar & Bat Mitzvah Ceremony

According to Jewish law, when Jewish boys become 13 years old, they become accountable for their actions and become a bar mitzvah. A girl becomes a bat mitzvah at the age of 12 according to Orthodox and Conservative Jews. In addition to being considered accountable for their actions from a religious perspective, a thirteen-year-old male may be counted towards a prayer quorum and may lead prayer and other religious services in the family and the community.

Never had a chance to celebrate your Bar or bat mitzvah? Here’s your opportunity to put on pair of tefillin and dance ‘till you drop. Go crazy just celebrating being a Jew!

Tree planting

Leave your mark and connect to the land – plant a tree in the Ezra forest.

Archeological dig at Adulam

Have a “hands on” experience with the past as you participate in an archeological dig at Adulam.

Barkan Winery

Taste the grapes and the wine, and learn all there is to know about wine production in Israel.

Camel Trek

Camel rides in Israel offer a unique way to explore the landscape of the Negev Desert. Riding a camel is a unique experience and one which you are unlikely to ever forget, and where better to do it than in the authentic setting that is the desert. A number of camel farms across the Negev offer the opportunity to take camel rides in Israel in safe surroundings.

Bedouin Experience:

Enjoy the traditional Bedouin hospitality with music and coffee ceremony. Join a traditional Bedouin feast and dance by the bonfire. Spend the night under a billion stars surrounded by a desert backdrop.

Day Eight

Masada

Ascend Masada during the early hours of the morning and witness the sun rise over the mountain plateau. Tour Herod’s Palace and hear about its Jewish defenders.

dead sea

Enjoy a chance to swim (more precisely, to float!) in the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on the Earth. Revitalize your skin with mineral filled mud, soak in the sulfur pools or simply float away under the sun.

EIN GEDI

Hike through a serene desert oasis with pools and waterfalls. Hear the story of King David’s flight from King Saul as he hid among Ein Gedi’s rocks thousands of years ago

Overnight: Hotel in Negev

Israel’s Negev Desert is dotted with great places to stay, has everything from hotels offering unrivaled luxury and architecture, to authentic desert khans (camplodges). What places them together is their unique desert setting and engagement with the land, as well as their high levels of hospitality.

Day Nine

Ein Avdat

Hike through this stunning desert canyon which is home to interesting wildlife and full of natural springs.

Sde Boker

Peek inside the simple house of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister. Gain an understanding of who he was and visit his final resting place in the desert.

END OF MIFGASH

Say farewell to your soldier friends after the fantastic five days you spent together.

Overnight: Hotel in Tel Aviv area

There is definitely no ‘best’ area to stay in Tel Aviv. Each area has its own distinct characteristics, advantages, and drawbacks. So to make your knowledge a little bigger, let us take you on a journey through Tel Aviv.

Day Ten

Independence Hall

Relive the moment Israel became a country. Learn about what took place during that fateful meeting.

Old Jaffa tour

Enjoy a chance to swim (more precisely, to float!) in the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on the Earth. Revitalize your skin with mineral filled mud, soak in the sulfur pools or simply float away under the sun.

Farewell Dinner

Enjoy dinner at one of Tel Aviv’s unique restaurants

Closing session

Discuss what you accomplished during the trip. How can you use what you discovered during the program to change your community? Provide feedback and let us know have we can make the program even better.

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