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I was officially absolutely approved.

For a trip that isn't the same one as Will's. Dude. WTF.



Dear Taglit-birthright israel:JCC Maccabi Israel Applicant,

Dates for our December trip have been confirmed! You've been accepted to participate in our December 30, 2007 - January 10 , 2008 winter program! Please contact our office immediately if you will be unable to participate in this winter's trip. You have until October 31, 2007 to withdraw your application without losing your $250 deposit. Please read the below information carefully and respond right away:

Phone Interview
If you have not been interviewed by one of our staff, please forward the times that you will be available for an interview tomorrow, October 30 from 10:00am to 4:00pm EST. Please also be sure to provide a phone number where you can be reached for your interview. Please forward your interview times to: easta@jcca.org.

Registration Forms/Passport
If you have not yet submitted all of you r registration forms (including a copy of your passport) please complete and send them to our office immediately. These forms can be obtained by visiting our website: www.jccmaccabiisrael.org and downloading the PDF file. You may fax them to: 212-481-4174 attention: JCC Maccabi Israel or email them to: info@jccmaccabiisrael.org .

Your flight details to follow shortly.

Please contact our office if you have any questions.

Thank you.
JCC Maccabi Israel


And because you all want to know,
Thursday – Day 1
Depart from EWR or JFK and let the journey begin!

Friday – Day 2 – Jerusalem
Arrive at Ben Gurion airport
Lunch
Orientation and Shehecheyanu Ceremony at Haas Promenade
Tour of the Old City
Kabbalat Shabbat at the Western Wall
Overnight: Jerusalem

Shabbat – Day 3 – Jerusalem
Walking tour of Yemin Moshe/Mishkanot Ha’ananim
Visit King David Hotel and YMCA
Lunch at Prima Kings Hotel
Preparation for Yad Vashem
Daniel Mendelssohn – “The different faces of Israeli society”
Neil Lazarus – “The current political situation in Israel”
Havdalah
A night on the town
Overnight: Jerusalem

Sunday – Day 4 – Jerusalem
Guided tour of Yad Vashem – Shoah (Holocaust) museum
Mt. Herzl
Sataf Hike
Visit to the Western Wall
Optional night on the town
Overnight: Jerusalem

Monday – Day 5 – North
Pick up Israelis (on the side of the road)
Tour of Pekiin
Druze Hospitality
Safed (Tour of the synagogues)
Jam Session
Overnight: Safed

Tuesday – Day 6 – Golan
Gilaboon Hike
Naot shoe factory
Mt. Ben Tal - Gadot observation point
Swim in the Kinneret – Hof Hatchelet
Israeli Games – Mickey Mickey, Milki eating contest…
Overnight: Tiberias

Wednesday – Day 7 – Tel Aviv area
Masuah – Shoah Survivor
Rabin Square
Jaffa Flea Market
Night Out on the Beach
Overnight: Tel Aviv

Thursday – Day 8 – Tel Aviv
Tour of Old Jaffa
Archeological Dig
Camel Ride
Bedouin Hospitality
Overnight: Bedouin Tents

Friday – Day 9 – South
Sunrise from Masada
Optional Nahal David tour/Ein Gedi Spa
Dead Sea
Kabbbalat Shabbat
Overnight: Tel Aviv

Shabbat – Day 10 – Tel Aviv area
Optional hike to Hof Hasharon – Beach/Nature Reserve
Lunch at hotel
Waterpark
Havdallah
Night on the town
Overnight: Tel Aviv

Sunday – Day 11 – Tel Aviv
Depart Israel for EWR or JFK

See you again in Israel!!!



Aaaand
Preparing for a Taglit-birthright israel: JCC Maccabi Israel Program:

The information that follows will provide you with all of the information you will need for an amazing Israel experience. Read it thoroughly and refer to it as often as you’d like. Careful advance planning will help make this a wonderful trip.

So, sit back, get comfortable and begin to prepare for the greatest experience of your life!

Click here to view our 2007 participant manual.

Airport Information

Important airport information: DO NOT Inter-line your luggage. If you are traveling to the airport we are departing from on a domestic flight, check your luggage to that airport, not through to Israel. Retrieve your luggage and bring it to the El Al terminal. Do not let any domestic airline check it through to Israel for you (“inter-lining”), as this takes many hours and may cause your luggage to arrive in Israel a day or two after you.

Luggage: On international flights you are allowed two pieces of checked luggage. The total permitted dimensions of the two pieces of luggage is 107 inches. This is arrived at by adding length, width and height of each bag. Thus, if one bag measures 63 inches, the other cannot exceed 44 inches. Luggage should not weigh more than 70lbs each.

Carry-on Luggage: You will also be allowed one piece of carry-on luggage with a maximum total dimension of 35 inches. You must be able to fit it under the airplane seat in front of you. A purse or waist-pack does not count as a carry-on. We strongly suggest that you put one change of clothes, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. in your carry-on so that you will be prepared to quickly refresh yourself upon arrival.

Name Tags: All pieces of luggage (checked and carry-on) should have proper identification tag. We will provide with luggage tugs once you arrive at the airport. The following information should be written on each tag:

Name of the participant
Name of the group
JCC Maccabi Israel
JCC Association
12 Hess Street
Jerusalem, 94185
Israel

Security @ the airport: Be prepared to open your luggage upon request for security reasons. Airport security is thorough and though it seems like an inconvenience it is this process that upholds airport security. If anyone gives you a package to bring to Israel be sure you see what’s in it; it’s better not to wrap it as security may open it. Once in Israel be prepared to open your bag/purse for a security check upon entering a mall, supermarket, movie theater, etc. In addition, be careful not to leave your baggage unattended as this may be taken for a suspicious object and will be destroyed.

Questions @ the airport: Be prepared to answer the following questions:

What is the purpose of your visit to Israel?
Did you pack your luggage?
Did anyone give you anything to take to Israel?
Did you see what they gave you?
Was your luggage ever out of your sight?

Please take these questions seriously as any joking around is not appreciated by EL Al security.

Flight Extensions: You can extend your ticket for up to 90 days for only $125. In order to extend your tickets you will need to contact out travel agent www.giltravel.com and tell them you are with the JCC Maccabi Israel group traveling on the Taglit-birthright israel tour. You will not be able to extend your ticket until a week or two before the trip because we have to work out last minute details with El Al and you won’t have a ticket in your name until that time. All communication with Gil Travel should be done via email.

Ticket Information: You will receive your ticket when you arrive at the airport.



Preparing for Israel

Medication: Bring any medication you need to take regularly. It is also wise to have a copy of the prescription with you. Bring the full packaging and the page that explains the exact make up of the medicine and dosage - medication out of North America often has different names and if lost can be hard to trace medication without exact details. While not exactly medication, make sure to bring sun-screen. If you require an epipen for any reason please be sure to get a doctor’s note to allow you to board the airplane with a needle.

Gifts: You may wish to bring small, modest gifts or souvenirs back to America. Remember that anything and everything you purchase in Israel supports the Israeli economy.

We suggest you leave at home those items one tends to carry in a wallet that won’t be needed in Israel (gasoline credit cards, department store credit cards, etc.). You may want to bring a credit card for shopping. (Visa, Master Card and American Express are accepted at most stores in Israel but small boutiques and your local falafel stand may only accept shekalim – Israeli currency.)

Currency: In addition to major credit cards you can use Israeli ATM’s, which will provide you with local currency. You will also be able to convert U.S. dollars to Israeli shekels at hotels, banks “Change-Point” outlets and the airport. (Hotel rates are a little lower, but much quicker and more convenient.) Change only what you’ll need for a day or two at a time. Again, remember that American credit cards are accepted in many places, and generally offer a very favorable exchange rate. You may also choose to purchase travelers checks before you leave. (Since the bank charge is per check, consider bringing larger denominations for cashing into Israeli shekels, or shkalim.)

Expenses that you should anticipate generally include extra drinks, sundries, entertainment, gifts and one meal/day. We recommend bringing $150-$250 for your 10-day visit, depending on your spending style. VAT (Value Added Tax) of 16.5% is added to the cost of goods and services. If you purchase goods of $50 or more in a single shop then you are entitled to a VAT refund. Keep the receipts to claim your refund at the VAT desk at Ben-Gurion Airport.

Optional – we are asking Taglit-birthright israel participants to contribute $50 to the tip for the Israeli guard and bus driver - this is entirely optional. If you choose to participate please give the money to your madrich/a (group leader) after we land in Israel.

Electrical Current: The electrical current used in Israel is 220 Volts AC, single phase, 50 hertz. Three pin sockets are used, but there are some two pin sockets as well. Adaptors in America can be purchased which convert the American electrical current to Israel’s current.

Insurance: We arrange supplementary medical insurance - by submitting individual passport numbers and date of birth; this provides limited coverage including visits to physicians or home visits and medication, x-rays and hospitalization where necessary, but excludes pre-existing conditions, pregnancy-related treatment, eyeglasses, non-emergency dental treatment, drug abuse, etc.
The insurance does not cover loss or theft of property, and separate travel insurance should be arranged for this.

Meals: As a matter of policy, all our programs observe Kashrut and Shabbat. All hotels and hostels serve Kosher food. We provide you with 2 meals/day and you are on your own for the 3rd meal (usually lunch or dinner). Average cost for such a meal is $5-$10. We will stop at local food stands daily for you to purchase the a meal.

Shabbat: All programs are Shomer Shabbat (keep the Shabbat laws), so there is no organized traveling by bus, etc. The program is created to give you the opportunity to experience Shabbat in Israel in its’ diversity. There will be optional prayer services and we ask that appropriate attire be worn at these services including a nice pair of slacks/skirt and a nice top.

Travel: During the course of the program you will be traveling on a luxury air-conditioned coach bus. You must remain with the group at all times. Anyone who violates this policy will be sent back to America on the next available flight.

The Ever-Confusing Conversions:
0 degrees C = 32 degrees F
10 C = 50 F
15 C = 59 F
20 C = 68 F
25 C = 77 F
30 C = 86 F
35 C = 95 F
40 C= 104 F
From centigrade to Fahrenheit, multiply by 9, divide by 5, and add 32

Distance Conversions (for practically every other country):
1 meter = 1.094 yards
1 kilometer = 0.621 miles
4 dunams = 1 acre
To convert from kms to miles multiply by 5 and divide by 8

Weight Conversions
1kilo (kg) = 2.207 pounds
28 grams = 1 oz.
1 liter = 1.057 quarts
3.81 liters = 1 gallon
To convert from kilos to pounds, add a tenth and double

Time Difference:
Eastern Time Zone: add 7 hours (12:00pm in N.Y. = 7:00pm in Israel)
Central Time Zone: add 8 hours (12:00pm in Chicago = 8:00pm in Israel)
Mountain Time Zone: add 9 hours (12:00pm in Montana = 9:00pm in Israel)
Western Time Zone: 10 hours ahead (12:00pm in Calif. = 10:00pm in Israel)


Packing List

Pack light! You are allowed to check two pieces of luggage, but may find it easier to get in and out of hotels with one medium-sized suitcase. It is advisable to bring a small backpack for daily necessities (towel…).

Airplane Backpack
Passport
Calling Card
Change of clothes
Deodorant
Camera
Discman
IPOD
Toothpaste
Toothbrush
Magazine, books, etc.
Journal
Snacks and drinks
A few dollars cash

Shabbat Attire
We recommend modest dress for religious sites - shirts with at least short sleeves for both men and women, a skirt covering the knees for women (a jacket and tie are not necessary).

Out on the town clothing...
You can wear exactly what you’d wear here. For example, a nice shirt and pants or a casual skirt. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. FYI- many of the streets are paved with stone...it’s challenging to wear shoes with awkward heels/soles on uneven pavement. Remember this is a trip for you because it is your birthright to visit your homeland. Keep in mind that on this trip comfort is primary and looking good is secondary.

Toiletries
In Israel, most of the same products they sell in America are available, although they are at a substantially higher cost.
Shampoo/Conditioner
Soap
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
Deodorant
Lip balm
Razor
After-shave
Band-Aids
Tampons/pads
Sunscreen
Tylenol/ Ibuprofen
Eyeglasses/ contact lenses
Anti-bacterial hand lotion
Any prescription medicine (acquiring the generic name is recommended)
Allergy medication (even if over-the-counter)
Other
A few more suggestions that will make your trip to Israel more comfortable:
Batteries
Tissue Packs
Sunglasses
Photocopy of your passport
Gum/ candy

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
subjectivity
Oct. 29th, 2007 06:42 pm (UTC)
how nice, they wait months to tell you and then you have only two days to respond!

Oh well, it IS free :) I hope you can rearrange to be on the same trip is Will. Do you think you'll be able to?
thisgirliknow
Oct. 29th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)
hope so
newscane
Oct. 29th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Interesting itinerary. We started in the south, then went to the north, then went to Jerusalem. We had overnights at three hotels: a Hyatt Regency at the Dead Sea, a kibbutz hotel in the Galilee (quality compared to a Quality Inn), and a Crowne Plaza in Jerusalem. We only spent about 8 hours in Tel Aviv, and went right back to Jerusalem for our overnight. We didn't go to Safed/Tzfat -- that's one place I wish we had gone to. I think some people did make it to the Naot factory. It was interesting having Jerusalem at the end of the trip -- gave us a chance to experience everything else, and then, when you make it to the Jerusalem, and see the golden stone and everything else -- the "wow" factor seemed heightened a bit :)
subjectivity
Oct. 29th, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC)
I meant to also add, the itinerary looks fantastic! you're going to have such a great time!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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thisgirliknow
Much like pineapples, I am hardcore.

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