Trip centralThis section provides you information that you will need to know while you are enjoying your Taglit-Birthright Israel: Ezra trip. Please read everything and if you have further questions, do not hesitate to contact us directly.
t’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.
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”.
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.
Mifgash (encounter in Hebrew) Program
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.
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.
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 $50 for the tour guide and $20 for the driver is appropriate for a 10-day trip. Our madrichim will usually collect the $70 tipping money from the participants and hand them 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.
Ezra will be giving great prizes for short videos and best photos about your Taglit-Birthright Israel: Ezra experience. Whether you are a professional video or photographer or an amateur, make sure to bring your video camera with you on the trip! Videos and photos will be judged by creativity, artistic and marketing value, and will be selected by Ezra Staff. Winners will be nominated with Ezra Awards at the mega reunion. Please submit your videos and photos by September 1 for the summer trips and March 1 for the winter trips.