Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.Taglit-Birthright Israel.

“This trip gave me the opportunity to connect with an amazing country and an inspiring group of people. I have learned more than I ever could have imagined about myself and my homeland.” Ashley

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Registration for Summer 2015 opens February 3

(for returning applicants early registration opens February 2)

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Q: What is Hillel's program?

A:Hillel's program is the largest college Israel experience in history.

Thanks to Taglit-Birthright Israel, if you are a Jewish young adult, 18-26, who has not been to Israel on an organized peer-group trip since turning 18, now is your chance to visit Israel for free!

Hillel's program includes travel to Israel from selected gateway cities, land accommodations at quality guest houses and hotels, most meals, and ten days of programming.


Q: Who is eligible to go on the trip?

A: The program is open to any Jewish person between the ages of 18-26, who has not been on a peer program to Israel since turning 18, and has not lived in Israel past the age of 12. Eligibility is determined through an online application and subsequent interview.

Please send an email to israel@hillel.org if you are unsure about your eligibility or have specific questions.


Q: Why would a total stranger want to finance my trip to Israel?

A: We're not strangers. Taglit-Birthright Israel - a partnership of philanthropists, Jewish communities and the citizens of Israel - believes in the importance of promoting Jewish peoplehood and Jewish renaissance, and is committed to providing a first, free, peer-group trip to Israel as a birthright of every Jew.

This initiative is a gift from one generation to the next.


Q: What is the program? Will there be free time?

A: Hillel's program is a packed, fun-filled experience that involves extensive touring of Israel, interactive discussions, recreational activities, and time to hang out with new friends. Take a look at the trip options.


Q: Who will staff Hillel's program?

A: Each campus will be responsible for staffing its campus program. Staff will comprise local Hillel professionals, other Jewish community professionals, or university faculty/officials - all of whom will have been specially trained to ensure the highest quality experience in Israel.


Q: Will this be a religious trip?

A: All Jews, regardless of background, affiliation or practice, are welcome on the program.

Hillel's program will provide opportunities for participants to celebrate Jewish life together, though you will not be required to join in organized religious activities. In order to be as inclusive as possible, kosher food will be served at all tour-sponsored activities and no travel will be required on the Jewish Sabbath.


Q: Will I have to commit to anything when I get back?

A: There is no commitment upon return. If you would like to get involved in Jewish life on campus or help recruit others for this great experience, contact your campus Hillel.


Q: Can I get academic credit for this program?

A: Credit is not offered on a national basis, though a number of individual Hillels may have arranged optional credit for the program. Contact your local Hillel for more information. You may also be able to arrange credit on an individual basis through your campus Jewish Studies department.


Q: Will there be time on the program to visit my friends and relatives in Israel?

A: Participants must participate in all program activities and will not be able to leave the group to visit with friends and family during the trip. If you would like to extend your trip to Israel you may visit with friends and family at that time.


Q: What if I don't speak Hebrew?

A: Don't worry - most people on the program don't. The majority of Israelis speak English, so you will be able to get by in any situation. Our Israeli tour educators are fluent in Hebrew and English, and accompany the group for almost all of the program.

During the course of the trip, you will have the opportunity to listen to Israeli music, meet with Israelis and learn some hip Israeli slang. By the end, you may even be able to carry on a short conversation in Hebrew.


Q: Who else will be going on these trips?

A: Young adults from hundreds of campuses and communities from across the United States participate in Hillel's program. You will travel with individuals from your community, and have a great time with old and new friends.


Q: If I apply, am I automatically accepted into the program?

A: Your online application is the first step in the process, after which you will be contacted by a Hillel professional for a personal interview. The interview will acquaint you with details of the program, and we expect that the majority of individuals will qualify.


Q: Do I have to submit my application online?

A: Yes, all applications must be submitted online.


Q: What if I don't have a passport?

A: All participants must have valid travel documents (passport, Green Card, visa) in order to participate in Hillel's program. The process can take up to 3 months. If you don't have current travel documents, apply NOW! It is your responsibility to have your passport/travel documents by the time of departure.

Information on applying for a passport (US citizens)
Information on applying for travel documents (non-citizens)


Q: What if I have already been to Israel?

A: Though this initiative is primarily targeted to those who have never been to Israel, you may still be eligible if you have never been on an organized peer-group experience in Israel since turning 18 and has not lived in Israel since turning age 12. Contact your local Hillel professional to discuss your specific circumstances.


Q: What if I am unable to participate at the last minute, and the deadline for withdrawal has passed?

If you withdraw after the deposit refund deadline for any reason, Taglit-Birthright Israel will not allow us to refund your $250.


Q: What will the $250 deposit be used for?

A: The $250 deposit is to ensure that your seat is filled on the airplane and that you participate fully in the program. If these conditions are satisfied, you will have 90 days from the end of your trip to retrieve your deposit.

If you withdraw after the posted deadline, you will lose your deposit.


Q: When do we get our actual tickets?

A: Tickets will be distributed at the airport.


Q: How much luggage can I bring? Is there a limit to the size of my bags?

A: If you have a flight to your gateway city, you will need to check with your domestic carrier.

Most Airlines will allow you to check two pieces of luggage (maximum of 50 lbs. and 62 inches [L + W + H]) and carry-on one piece of luggage (maximum of 45inches [L + W + H]).

We will be traveling to several hotels around Israel throughout the trip. A good guideline – don’t bring more than you can comfortably carry up one flight of stairs on your own.


Q: What should I pack?

A: Please see our winter packing list or our summer packing list.


Q: Should I purchase Travel Insurance for my Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel Trip?

A: Snow storms, thunderstorms, hurricanes and other natural events can create travel inconveniences. We encourage all Taglit-Birthright Israel: Hillel participants to purchase travel insurance to avoid any travel hassles due to delayed domestic travel.  One plan is offered by CTAS Travel Insurance, underwritten by Harel, Israel’s largest travel insurance provider. CTAS Travel Insurance has specialized in student travel coverage for over 20 years. They offer good rates for participants on Israel programs including Taglit-Birthright Israel, and efficient and personal attention with a 24-hour help-line center.


Q: What if I can't leave on the assigned departure date for my school? Can I go early?

A: Participants need to leave for the program on their school or trip's assigned departure date. Please keep in mind that you will be required to arrange travel to and from your trip's gateway city.


Q: What is a "gateway city"?

A: A gateway city is the city with the airport from which your flight to Israel will be departing. You will be responsible for the cost and arrangement of your transportation to this city.


Q: Can I extend my stay in Israel?

A: All Taglit-Birthright Israel participants leaving on US departures have the option of extending their ticket to remain in Israel beyond the program (This is the case except in rare situations. In such cases, your organizer will notify you in advance of ticketing that extensions won't be possible).

The specific rules for extending your return date will depend on the airline you fly with. Since we use multiple airlines, once your flight has been ticketed we will notify you of the restrictions for trip extension for that airline.

Also, understand that our tickets are in a certain class of seating. Your airline may not have available seating on the date you wish to return. In this case you will either have to settle for a different date and flight or, if offered by the airline, choose to pay a higher fee for a different class of service.

We encourage you to take advantage of being in Israel and to extend your stay after the program. We are happy to assist you with this.

Please know that once the Taglit-Birthright Israel program has concluded that you will no longer be under our supervision or responsibility of Taglit-Birthright Israel.

Taglit-Birthright Israel Trip Extension (PDF File)


Q: How do I call home?

A: Prior to the trip, you will receive information from your Hillel professional about renting an Israeli cell phone; signing up in advance under our group plan will ensure low rates and reduced price calls among members of your group. Make sure to register using a bus number, so that the phone can be given to you upon arrival in Israel. Bus numbers will be available in Part 2 of the online student application with your flight information.


Q: Are there any expenses while on the trip that I am responsible for?

A: The only costs to participants are one meal per day and tips for the Israeli staff members. We recommend $70 for tips and another $100 to $150 for meals and snacks. Participants may wish to bring additional spending money.


Q: What if I get sick in Israel? Do I need my own health insurance?

A: Every participant in Hillel's program is required to have insurance coverage that will be valid during the dates of travel. You should contact your local insurance carrier for their coverage and reimbursement policies.

Hillel is committed to the physical and emotional well being of all of the participants. To achieve that goal, Hillel will provide emergency medical coverage while you are in Israel. This insurance covers emergency conditions on the ground, but will NOT cover any preexisting medical condition, alcohol related injuries, followup treatment or expenses after return to the United States. Any additional costs will be the responsibility of the participant.

As part of Hillel's medical coverage, the following levels of treatment are available in the event of illness or injury:

Basic first aid is administered by a medic accompanying the group, such as dispensing bandaids, medicine for headaches, etc., much like a camp nurse. Should the medic and group staff decide that a doctor needs to be consulted, the participant will be seen during pre-arranged doctor's hours. These doctors maintain a supply of common medications and, when necessary, prescribe additional medication. They will also refer participants to specialists, when necessary.

Should urgent medical care be required, participants will immediately be taken to an authorized clinic or to an emergency room.

Participants will be accompanied by a staff member on any visits to doctors, clinics or hospitals.


Q: What security measures are in place?

A: The safety and security of participants is our primary concern. A security orientation for issues specific to travel in Israel will be given to all participants upon arrival.

While in Israel our itineraries are reviewed by Heder Matzav (the situation room), and if there is any concern our itineraries will be changed immediately. This is the same office that reviews field trip itineraries for school children. In order to communicate with our staff, each group’s tour educator has a GPS phone, and each staff member has a cell phone. Should any participant become separated from the group, they have an emergency contact card to reach their staff. Each group has a security guard with them at all times. Our tour busses are locked at all times when participants, staff or the driver is not present and every hotel that the group visits has security at all entrances. Participants are not permitted to leave the group at any time, and “free time” is confined to certain specific areas with designated times and a group meeting place.


Q: What if I am unable to go at the last minute?

A: It is your responsibility to notify Hillel as soon as you are aware that you are unable to attend.


Q: What happens in case of emergency?

A: Participants will be provided in advance with contact information for their local Hillel and the hotels in which they will be staying on the program. Each campus has assigned a local emergency contact while participants are on the trip. Please call your campus Hillel to reach the local emergency contact.


Q: What will accommodations and meals be like on the program?

A: Accommodations will be triple-occupancy in 3-4 star hotels, hostels and guest houses around the country. Towel and linen service will be provided. We will try to accommodate roommate requests upon acceptance to the program.

Most meals on the program will be included and will range from buffet breakfasts to falafel to boxed lunches to sit-down dinners. Participants should plan on paying for one meal per day.


Q: Does Taglit-Birthright Israel make accommodations for individuals with medical and/or special needs?

Every round there are a number of medical and special needs trips offered. Not all programs are offered in every round of trips. These include but are not limited to: Trips for those with developmental challenges, physical challenges, ASL trips, IBD and Crohn’s, etc. These trips can be viewed at www.birthrightisrael.com, under THE TRIP - Special Programs. Additionally there may be opportunities to integrate individuals with medical or special needs onto other programs where possible, sometimes with the assistance of an aide if necessary. Your Trip Organizer will be able to tell you if these options are available to you.

All of your medical and special needs should be discussed thoroughly with your Trip Organizer prior to accepting a trip. Your Trip Organizer will be able to provide you with information regarding their trip itineraries and whom they are best suited to.


Q: Who can I contact for more information about Hillel's program?

A: Contact your local Hillel for more information about the program. (See Hillel's Guide to Jewish Life at Colleges and Universities for contact information)

If you require additional information, contact us at israel@hillel.org.

For more information about other Israel programs, please visit the Taglit-Birthright Israel Web site.