Reconfirm your flights at least 72 hours prior
to departure. Make sure that your special meals
are, as well, confirmed.
If you are travelling with children, check with
your air agent to see if the airline has children's
Please be warned that not all scanning machines
at airports are film safe.
While you may use travelers' checks in Israel,
the rates offered are less than generous. Credit
cards are widely accepted at most stores, restaurants
and at many tourist sites, parks and museums.
In addition, we recommend, in any case, that you
bring a few personal checks as well as US dollars/cash.
US dollars may be changed into shekels at official
moneychangers in the large cities. So too, shekels
can be obtained from ATM machines in the major
cities with your PIN number. The exchange rate
has been fluctuating. In 2004. $1.00 USD = approximately
4.5 NIS. For today's rate of exchange visit .
Check to see exactly what your travel insurance
covers. Does it include health and baggage?
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Leave a copy of your program along with hotel
telephone and fax numbers with family members.
You are allowed two suitcases per person, each
weighing up to 70 lbs. If you plan on stopping
over in Europe you are limited to 44 lbs. per
person. You may carry one carry on piece of luggage.
Make sure that all of your bags are properly tagged.
Bring a copy of your prescriptions along with
you. It is also a good idea to bring an extra
pair of prescription eyeglasses with you.
Pack lightly, especially in the summer time. There
is a reasonably priced one-day laundry service
near your Jerusalem hotel. If you are travelling
in the winter, do bring a winter jacket, rain
gear and sweater. An umbrella is also recommended.
Double check that your passport is valid for at
least six months beyond the scheduled return date
of your trip. Make a photocopy of your passport
and carry it separately from your originals.
Do not leave luggage unattended at airports.
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WHILE IN ISRAEL
Should you be interested, you might participate
in an archaeological dig in Israel. Visit www.bib-arch.org/bswbDigBAR.html
for details and a list of all current digs.
Each bank has different hours of operation. However,
most banks are open Sunday Thursday 8:30 AM
- 12:30 PM. Bring your passport and a book to
read. Many banks have separate lines for foreign
currency exchange. Don't be shy to ask where to
go. As the rate of exchange varies from day to
day, stay abreast of the situation.
Bar and Bat Mitzvahs
Bellin Bar / Bat-Mitzvah-Touring
Lifeguards go on duty at the major beaches around
the country on or about June 1.
Renting a car is more expensive than in North
America. You'll get the best deal if you rent
for a week. There are numerous companies today.
Compare prices. Most companies have affiliates
in the States. There is a drop-off charge at the
International Airport. Cars tend to be small.
If you are more than four people you will probably
need a van.
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Mobile telephones are widely used throughout Israel.
There are three providers of service. Coverage
is generally good. Reasonable in price. You can
rent one prior to departure in the USA, upon arrival
at Ben Gurion Airport or via the concierge at
major hotels in the large cities. It is illegal
to drive while holding a cellular phone. Ask your
rental agent for a hands - free set.
While you may expect rain from November through
early April, it is dry during the rest of the
year. During the dry season expect high humidity
in Tel Aviv and along the coast. In Jerusalem
and the mountains expect low humidity and warm
weather in the dry season. It is cool in evenings
in the mountains. For daily weather updates click.
Dress is informal. Leave your suit and tie at
home. In the winter bring layers that you can
peel off, as you may be above the snow line and
in the desert on the same day. For the summer
time, bring light clothing. A light sweater is
recommended for Jerusalem and high-elevation evenings,
even in the springtime. Modest clothing is required
for most holy sites. For men - long pants and
casual shirts. Women - skirts and blouses (with
sleeves). Hats are a good idea year round.
All major credit cards are accepted, even at the
Israel is home to two deserts the Judean
Desert and the Negev. While these are two fascinating
regions, we do not recommend that you hike there
on your own. Contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org for a professional desert
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Yes, you can see dinosaur tracks in Israel! Turn
off Rt. 1 as you approach Jerusalem from the west
and get off at the Beit Zayit exit. The tracks
are in the center of the village.
Driving in Israel can be a challenge. Speed limits
are in kilometers: 50 kph in the city, 80 on inter-city
roads and 90 on super highways, unless otherwise
indicated. Seat belts must be worn in front and
in back at all times. Children under the age of
12 are not allowed in the front seat unless they
are infants in a safety seat. Driving is on the
right; passing is on the left.
It's hot in Israel. Drink plenty of fluids so
that you don't dehydrate. Alcohol is not recommended
in high temperature zones in mid-day. Minimum
drinking age for alcohol is 18.
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El Al Airlines as well as most other carriers
have early check-in service in Tel Aviv in the
afternoons prior to departure of late night and
early morning flights. This allows you to arrive
at the airport one-hour before departure, rather
than the usual three hours.
For a fun filled family or group tour full of
lots of Jewish issues, questions and some answers
visit the Custom Tours site at www.dbellin.com/custom.htm.
Israel operates on 220 volts, 50 cycles. Make
sure that your shavers and hair dryers have 220-volt
adapters. If not, then 220-volt adapters along
with the proper plugs may be purchased in Israel.
Luxury hotels have a 110-volt outlet for shavers,
etc. in the bathroom. Plug adapters for your appliances
can often be borrowed from the concierge at 5
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You'll receive an AL-17 form upon entry. Save
it until departure.
All of the National Parks and Nature Reserves
accept major credit cards. Smaller museums and
sites as well as privately managed sites very
often do not accept credit cards. Allow for some
$12.00 $15.00 per person per day, on the average,
for entrance fees. Adventure activities often
cost $20.00 $25.00 per person per activity.
Facts and Figures about Israel
Visit the site of the Israel Ministry of Foreign
Check with your tour guide or concierge for a
list of good restaurants. Food is generally safe
to eat. Should you want to feel "at home," many
American food franchises now operate in Israel:
Burger King, Macdonald's, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino's
Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and more. But don't
be afraid to try the local fare.
A word to the wise Look and price items. Make
your purchases toward the end of the visit after
you have compared prices. Do not forget to save
the VAT form so that you can get your refund at
the airport. For good bargains and different kinds
of gift items, try off the beaten track workshops
Make sure that you have health insurance coverage.
Your hotel concierge can connect you, should the
need arise, with the house doctor. Or, private
emergency rooms now operate in the major cities.
Fill out the appropriate forms and your American
carrier will reimburse you. Please contact your
tour escort 24 hours a day should you need to
see a doctor.
While it was once common to hitchhike, we do not
now recommend it.
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As Israeli hotel rooms tend to be smaller than
rooms in the USA, most hotels will sleep one,
two or three people to a room. Prices are generally
based on double occupancy.
If you are considering moving to Israel consult
with your local Israeli Consulate or a representative
of the Jewish Agency at the Israel Aliya Desk
in the USA. You can also call the Israel Aliya
Center in NYC at 212-339-6000. Visit the site
of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Internet access is available in the Business Center
of most major 5 star hotels as well as at Internet
Cafes in the large cities. Newer 5 star hotels
have hook-ups in all hotel rooms for your laptop.
Do not try to cash them at small branches, as
they often do not have the appropriate forms.
Try the larger Tourism Branches in the major cities.
Bring your passport with you.
Keep most of it at home. Why schlep it and risk
losing it on a vacation to Israel?
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If you are interested in touring Jordan be it
a day tour to Petra or a 2 4 day tour, contact
us. Visas can be obtained on the spot at the border
crossing near Eilat (Arava Crossing) and at the
crossing in the Galilee near Beit Shean (Sheikh
Hussein). Contact us at email@example.com.
If you observe the dietary laws of kashruth, always
look for an up-to-date kashruth certificate in
hotels and restaurants. If you have questions,
contact the local rabbinate in the particular
city you are located or consult your tour escort
at David Bellin Travel Systems.
If you plan on bringing your laptop or palmtop
to Israel fine. Most of the larger five star
hotels have modular phone hook ups in the rooms.
As for the smaller and out of the way hotels
use the hotel's fax machine. Bring a long phone
cord, as the phone jack may not always be conveniently
located. Make sure that your charger is good for
use on a 220-volt system and bring a plug adapter
that will allow you to plug your gadgets into
a standard Israeli wall outlet. If you cannot
find one in the USA, don't worry. They can be
purchased in Israel for pennies.
Maps are available in English and other languages
at good bookstores (e.g., Steimatzky: Tel Aviv
03-522-1513, Jerusalem 02-6253487), at the local
Society for Protection of Nature (SPNI) book stores
in major cities and at the Government Department
of Surveys. Scale 1:50,000 is recommended for
hiking, 1:100,000 for country driving and 1:250,000
for highway driving.
Israeli hotel rates are based on the standard
bed and breakfast plan. Half board indicates that
the price includes one other meal daily. Full
board means that your program includes breakfast,
lunch and dinner.
The NIS - New Israeli Shekel (or simply shekel)
operates on the decimal system. In mid 2004 the
rate of exchange to the dollar is approximately
1 dollar = 4.5 shekels. Check local newspapers
for the average rate of exchange. American currency
happily accepted in most places, but confirm the
exchange rate used. There are 100 agurot to the
Israel has an extensive system of Nature Reserves
that have marked trails, most of which are free
of charge. Those parks that provide services such
as toilets and food take a modest fee. If you
plan on hiking (not in the desert) please purchase
a 1:50,000 topographic map that has the trails
clearly marked. If you plan on hiking on your
own consult the nearest Field School of the Society
of Protection of Nature in Israel.
You can get your baseball scores and other news
from the two English language dailies: The Jerusalem
Post and HaAretz. The former has inserts from
the NY Times and the latter has an insert of The
International Herald Tribune.
Passports are required for all foreign currency
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As film is rather expensive, bring plenty of it.
100 or 200 speed is recommended for outdoor and
indoor-flash photography. Photography is not allowed
in some museums and in some security-conscious
facilities like the Knesset as well as in some
"ultra-orthodox" neighborhoods. On the Sabbath,
it is inconsiderate to photograph at the Western
Wall and in "religious" areas.
If you feel unwell, please call the emergency
travel number in your itinerary packet 24 hours
Bellboy service is not available for individual
travelers at the airports. The dollies, however,
are still free of charge. Porterage is available
at most hotels. It is customary to tip bellboy
$1.00 per suitcase.
Stamps are available at post offices or at hotel
newspaper stands. Additional postage must be placed
on mail items above 20 grams. Allow at least seven
days for delivery of a letter from Jerusalem to
Unless you are coming on a pre-arranged guided
tour, one of the best ways to see all that you
want to see of Israel is to have a professional
tour guide put together a custom touring package
just for you -- it is cheaper than you might think
and a wonderful experience is guaranteed. Interested?
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There is comprehensive bus service in the large
cities. While drivers do give change, it is always
best to buy tickets at the counter when leaving
from bus stations. Save your receipt until the
end of the ride. Multi-ride cards are available
at a discount from the driver. There is also a
comprehensive bus system between large and medium
sized cities. In the periphery of the country
-- northern Galilee, Golan, Negev Highlands, and
out-of-the-way areas -- bus service can be sparse.
The phone number for inter city information for
the Egged Bus Company is 03-6948888.
Public phones are plentiful and usually do work.
Most of them operate today with a plastic credit
card size phone card, available at post offices
and your hotel newsstand. Cards of 20, 500 and
100 units are available (time per unit depends
on distance of call and time of day). You may
access AT&T, MCI and Sprint for overseas calls
from pay phones by dialing a 177 (toll-free) number.
Check for your service's number before you leave.
Overseas operator and overseas directory information
is available by dialing 188. Domestic directory
information is available by dialing 144 (free
from public phone). For collect calls within Israel,
Known as WC, and available in most tourist locations.
Be prepared with tissues in your pocket at all
times. Also, be aware that some public toilets
are staffed by attendants who ask for a "user's
While walking about the large cities, keep your
wallet in your front pocket and your purse close
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You and your bags may often be checked by security
guards at public buildings such as shopping malls.
Be cooperative -- it is for your safety too. Do
not leave your bag unattended anywhere.
A wonderful place to experience Shabbat in Israel
is Jerusalem. In addition to the "traditional"
methods of observing Shabbat, many of the museums
in the city are open on the Sabbath. For a traditional
Shabbat experience, hang out at the Western Wall
after Friday evening services and you may be asked
home to dinner by one of the locals.
Interurban jitneys (group taxis). As soon as all
seats are filled the driver leaves. There is a
set fee per passenger. They operate between major
cities as well as between the airport and major
cities. Worthwhile to check the prices since they
are sometimes cheaper (or about the same) as the
bus, and are faster.
The Friday edition of the Jerusalem Post lists
times of services in the major synagogues in the
large cities. Weekday morning services are generally
at 6:00 AM throughout the country. Friday evening
services tend to be some 15 minutes after candle
lighting time. Most Orthodox synagogues start
the Saturday morning service at 8:00 AM. Conservative
synagogues start the service at 8:30 9:00 AM
and Reform synagogues generally at 9:30 10:00
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There is 17% value added tax (VAT) on most goods
and services in Israel. At retail stores, this
tax is always already included in the price. Upon
making a purchase of $100.00 or more at a gift
store that has an agreement with the VAT authorities,
you should fill out a form at the store and have
it stamped there. You will be eligible, upon presenting
the form and the item, for a 17% refund at the
airport prior to departure. Do not pack these
gift items in your luggage. They should be kept
in your hand luggage along with the special VAT
formed that you receive from the merchant. Tourist
services, such as hotel rooms and meals, purchased
as export goods with foreign currency are exempt
from VAT. Taxis While traveling in the city, insist
that the meter be turned on. The driver may want
to close a "deal" with you -- insist on the meter
and make sure it is reset at the start of the
trip. Between cities, you can close a deal with
the driver, as you will be using the services
of a "special".
Direct dialing from your hotel room overseas is
not cheap. Phone credit cards accepted. For calls
within Israel, you'll do better making calls with
a TeleCard plastic card from a pay phone. You
may access AT&T, MCI and Sprint for overseas calls
from pay phones by dialing a 177 (toll-free) number
-- check for your service's number before you
leave. Overseas operator and overseas directory
information is available by dialing 188. Domestic
directory information is available by dialing
144. For collect calls within Israel, dial 142.
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Tipping is not necessary for cab drivers or barbers.
As to restaurants, check the bill to see if "service
included" (it often is). If not, 10 - 15% is a
good bet. It is accepted practice to tip hotel
staff, your tour guide and tour bus driver.
Make sure that your guide and his/her vehicle
are licensed for tourism. It is customary to tip
if you had a good time with a private licensed
tour guide. For more details on tour guides contact
The Ministry of Tourism has closed most of their
"manned" information centers and has placed computer
information terminals in their stead. Good luck!
Rush hour in and out of the major cities is from
about 6:15 AM 9:00 AM and from 4:15 PM 7:30
PM. If you have a meeting to catch allow for plenty
of time. Within the major cities themselves, traffic
can be hectic throughout the day, especially if
a visiting head of state is in town.
There is excellent train service along the coastal
route between Nahariya - Acre - Haifa - Netanya
- Tel Aviv Beer Sheba. The rates are reasonable
and the ride is comfortable, avoiding the traffic
jams. On Sunday mornings expect standing room
Travel to Arab Countries
Travel to Jordan and Egypt from Israel has become
rather hassle-free. Visas can be obtained in Israel.
Check with your travel agent or the Jordanian
(phone 03-7517722) or Egyptian (phone 03-546-4151)
Embassies for up to date information on changing
rules and regulations.
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There are numerous opportunities to give tzedakah
in Israel. You may contribute directly to the
charitable organization of your choice yeshiva,
school, hospital, etc. Or, you may participate
in a hands-on tzedakah project while in Israel.
Yes, you can take advantage of a host of underwater
sports in Eilat. Our representative in Eilat will
advise you and will help you book your water activities
in this southern location.
Vaccinations are not required for tourists entering
Israel from western countries. Valuables There
is no need to bring valuable jewelry on your Israel
trip. Most 5 star hotels have safes in the rooms
for valuables. Otherwise, they may be locked in
the safe at the desk.
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Although water in Israel is of good quality and
suitable for drinking, you may not be used to
the high mineral content. Bottled natural spring
water is available everywhere - expensive at your
hotel, more reasonable at the supermarkets.
Weights and Measures
Metric system used exclusively. A kilometer is
a bit over a 1/2 mile - (0.62 miles). A kilogram
is equivalent to 2.2 pounds.
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