FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Birthright Israel is the most significant Jewish philanthropic endeavour of its kind. The co-founders of the project, philanthropists Charles R. Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, have created a unique and unprecedented partnership between the Government of Israel, Jewish Federations/communities around the world and private philanthropists. These partners believe that it is every Jew's right to be offered a first-time visit to Israel as a gift from the Jewish people.
You are eligible for the Birthright Israel gift if you meet all three of the following criteria:
- At least 1 Jewish parent
- 18 through 32 (see below)
- Applicants who traveled to Israel prior to turning 18, on a program designed for high school teens, for a period shorter than three months in length are eligible. Even if you were 18 at the time of the trip, you are eligible, as long as the trip was designed for high school students.
- Applicants who participated in most “High School in Israel” programs for up to a semester are eligible.
- Applicants who traveled to Israel since turning 18 on a family trip, a multi-generational trip, or some interfaith/secular experiences are eligible.
- Applicants who traveled to Israel after turning 18 on programs designed for college students or young adults are not eligible. Programs include University, study abroad, gap year, yeshiva/seminary, internship and any other experience under the umbrella of Onward Israel or Masa Israel.
Birthright Israel Israel Experts groups depart from New York area airports and Miami and Los Angeles. Airfare to and from Tel Aviv is part of the Birthright Israel gift, but participants are responsible for making their own way to the departure point.
No. Although dates for the trips are often set in order to accommodate student schedules, you are eligible as long as you meet the three basic eligibility criteria above.
As the tour is open only to individuals who have never been to Israel on an organized trip, you will likely be with many others who don't speak a word of Hebrew, are not religious, and who may feel quite distant from their Jewish background.
As for the language issue, many Israelis speak English fluently, and all programs, including the activities during which you'll meet Israeli peers, will be conducted in English.
Yes. Apart from lunch, snacks, and spending money, there is no cost involved for the 10-day program. This gift is 100% subsidized through the generosity of major philanthropists, local Jewish Federations and the Government of Israel. You will be asked to send a refundable $250 deposit after you are accepted to the program. This deposit is only intended to secure your space on the program and will be fully refunded once you've completed it, no questions asked and no strings attached. It will also be refunded if you voluntarily withdraw your application before a specified cancellation deadline set by Birthright Israel. There are no other administration or registration fees whatsoever.
Believe it or not, there is no catch. There are no hidden costs and no one will ask you to do anything in particular when you return. All that will be asked of you is that you participate fully in the program itself during the time you're in Israel. Of course, we'd like to think that you will enjoy the experience so much that you'll share it with eligible friends and acquaintances who have yet to visit Israel.
The majority of disturbances we've seen in the news occur in specific areas, namely the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel Experts programs do not visit these areas and we make sure to coordinate our itineraries with various security agencies throughout Israel. Also, the program is run in a very structured way and participants are forbidden to use public transportation or to walk about freely without any supervision. Birthright Israel programs have run successfully and incident-free since 1999, with over 400,000 participants in spite of the situation.
For a more detailed explanation of the security measures taken on the trips, contact us.
It includes a round-trip ticket to Israel from one among several designated departure cities, shared hotel accommodations, two meals a day (usually breakfast and dinner), ground transportation in air-conditioned luxury tour coaches, entrance fees to all sites on the itinerary, and the services of qualified staff and tour guides. Spending money for gifts and personal purchases is your responsibility, of course.
As for the program details, check out our Trip Options section for more information.
There will be structured opportunities to explore selected areas of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other cities. If you have family in Israel, they will be able to visit you at your hotel over Shabbat, or you may extend your stay after the program for longer visits. At no time will participants be allowed to be picked up by family or friends during the trip, nor leave the trip to visit them.
Israel Experts offers an incredible extension program through Birthright Israel Plus called Building New Bridges. This extension program introduces participants to Israeli and Palestinian grassroots change-makers. To learn more click here- https://www.birthrightisrael.com/extend
Extensions prior to departure are handled through Gil Travel (Birthright Israel's travel agency). We highly recommend that you extend your stay prior to leaving the US since all seats are subject to availability, contract specifications and specific classes of service by the airlines. Although some airlines permit the extension to be made in Israel, it can be time consuming, and seats are limited.
Please note : It is the participants’ responsibility to contact the airline if they are not flying on the original or new extended return date. Participants who are a no-show to the airline, risk having their return ticket classified “NULL and VOID” and will be responsible to buy a one-way return ticket.
You can only make your extension request via the Gil Travel website and must allow sufficient time for it to be processed prior to your departure date. The link for extension reservations is: http://www.giltravel.com/extensionsinfo.htm
There will usually be 40 participants on your bus and depending upon the trip you choose, they will probably come from all over the United States. Birthright Israel trips are available to people from the USA, Canada and many other countries throughout the world. There will also be a group of Israelis joining your trip for part of the time.
Individual groups travel in one bus each and are usually made up of 40 participants plus staff. The staff includes a Ministry of Education certified Israeli tour guide, two IsraelExperts group leaders and one Israeli guard/medic. We also have a number of support staff that move from group to group to ensure things go smoothly. Although individual groups may occasionally run into each other at various sites, they are normally independent of one another.
Unless the trip is a community or campus trip, participants do not typically come from one region but rather from all over the United States. From experience, we believe that there is educational value in experiencing Israel with fellow Jews from other places. For the benefit of group dynamics, IsraelExperts groups are divided by age whenever there are multiple departures on a given date.
YES!! You do need one and this is something you should take care of right away. Click here to get a detailed explanation of passport and visa requirements for travel to Israel. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date to your country of origin.
Let us know the names of the people you'd like to be with during your telephone interview. You should also complete the registration process at the same time and be sure to sign up for the same trip. We'll do our best to make sure that you're all placed together.
Shabbat in Israel is a unique and varied experience. In some cities, business comes to a stop, traffic is halted, and the streets are filled with people walking to and from synagogue and to friends and families for dinner. In other places, restaurants and clubs are open for Israelis who see Shabbat as a chance to change pace, relax, have a day off, and meet with friends.
Israel Experts celebrates the pluralism that makes Israel such a wonderful place to be for Shabbat. Depending on the itinerary and the number of Shabbats during the trip, you can expect to experience Shabbat in Israel in one of many ways. For some it may be a walk to the Western Wall, while for others it may be a choice of services and discussions while on a remote kibbutz in the Negev.
In all cases, we join together as a community to share in a special Shabbat dinner and gather afterwards to reflect on our experiences. As an organization that is geared towards a pluralistic and non-denominational group, we strive to create an experience that is accessible to all. Israel Experts guarantees that each participant will have an unforgettable experience that is special for your group and unique to Israel. Like all Birthright Israel trips, we do not travel on Shabbat and all meals throughout the trip are Kosher.
Due to safety and security requirements, you will NOT be allowed to leave the group at any time throughout the 10 day program. Family and friends are welcome to come and visit you in the hotels when you do not have a program, and you will see time scheduled on your itinerary stating when else family and friends may come and visit.
If you want to apply for an extension program while you are still in the US, you can click here for more information. If you decide to extend when you are in Israel, there will be some reservation forms on your bus which you can fill out and fax over to our office, or you can call the office and we will fill out the form for you.
The best time to arrange an extension to Europe would be while you're still in the U.S. You will first need to confirm your flight extension with Gil Travel before arranging your European flight.
You will have to go back to Israel and fly back to the States from Israel. Another option is that you buy your own ticket from Europe back to the States which means that you will forfeit the return portion of your Birthright Israel ticket.
There are three ways to get to Eilat. The first is to join one of our Israel Adventure trips this season! The other two are on your own. You can take a bus from Tel Aviv/Jerusalem. The bus ride is from 5 to 6 hours long. The second way is by taking a 45 minute flight to Eilat.
We want you to make a decision with as much information in hand as you need. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] (link sends e-mail) or by calling us toll-free at 1-800-218-9851. From the beginning of registration, we will be in the office in Israel ready to answer your calls from Sunday through Thursday between the hours of 7am and 5pm (New York time). We would also like to recommend you join our Facebook page, where you can meet participants who have already been to Israel with us and those, like yourself, who are just beginning their journey. We'll be glad to answer any questions and address any concerns you may have about the trip. If you'd like, we can also refer you to one of our past participants so that you get a first-hand account of the experience from someone just like you.
PayPal has been added as a payment option for all US applicants
Payoneer will remain a payment option for all US applicants
In Canada, applicants (based on the addresses you provide in their application) will have the option to pay via their PayPal account, or using their credit card (through PayPal)
To account for the conversion rate from Canadian to US Dollars, the deposit amount for Canadians will be $300 CA (+ $10 CA handling fee)