Questions & Answers
We hope you find that there is a lot of good information below. Some of it is general. Some of it is very specific. We recommend that you take ten minutes and get smart about the program...
• What is Taglit-Birthright Israel?
• Is it really free?
• Why is it free?
• Who is eligible?
• Are the eligibility rules serious?
• Why choose Young Judaea?
• When can I register?
• Will I be safe?
• What are the departure dates?
• What airlines are used?
• How do I get my plane ticket?
• Can I extend my ticket?
• Am I guaranteed a spot on this trip?
• How is the order of trip assignments determined?
• How are the groups organized?
• What if the flight that I want is not available?
• Where will the other participants come from?
• Can I go on the same trip as a friend?
• What about health insurance while I am in Israel?
• What should I pack?
• Will I have any free time during the trip?
• Is this trip intended for people who are religious?
• Is the winter season a good time to travel in Israel?
• Is summer season a good time to travel in Israel?
• How flexible are the group flight rules?
• Who staffs the trips?
• Will I learn Hebrew on this trip?
• Will this be an amazing experience?
• How do I sign up or get more information?
What is Taglit-Birthright Israel?
Taglit-Birthright Israel was launched in 1999 as a non-profit foundation whose purpose is to enable young adults to visit Israel at least once in their lifetime. To date, over 250,000 Jewish young adults from around the world have come to Israel under the Taglit-Birthright Israel initiative.
As hard as it may be to believe, the answer is YES! The trip includes roundtrip flight to Israel from various departure cities in North America, overnight accommodations at three and four star hotels (plus one night under the stars at a Bedouin tent in the desert), two meals a day, and all organized activities and touring. What do you pay for? You are expected to get to the departure city airport in North America on your own. You are also responsible for spending money for gifts, one meal a day, personal purchases, snacks and drinks. The registration process for the trip should take no more than 15-20 minutes. After you register, you will need to get interviewed by our staff.
Why is it free?
The Taglit-Birthright Israel foundation was set up in order to give every young Jewish adult the chance to experience Israel at least one time in their lives. As a licensed provider of Taglit-Birthright Israel funded trips, Young Judaea has no religious or political agenda. Our only goal is to ensure that your experience on the trip is both meaningful and always enjoyable.
Who is eligible?
This special opportunity is open to anyone who is between the age of 18-26, who is Jewish, and who has never previously been to Israel with an organized peer program of seven days or longer. Learn More: Eligibility Rules
Are the eligibility rules serious?
Yes. Very serious. The generous funders of the Taglit-Birthright Israel gift have established clear eligibility rules for the program, and we expect all applicants to respect these rules with the highest level of seriousness. Each applicant to the program must sign a Trip Waiver Form which verifies that they are in fact eligible for the program. Applicants who attempt to lie in order to secure a spot on the trip are committing theft and will be held legally and financially accountable for their actions. If you are confused about your eligibility status, that's ok. But it is still your responsibility to clear up any questions directly with Young Judaea staff. Learn More: Eligibility Rules
Why choose Young Judaea?
There is more than one Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, because we all know that no two people come to Israel with the same hopes and dreams. We believe that the Young Judaea experience balances the perfect mix of informal education, an always enjoyable atmosphere, and a spirit of adventure. We have thousands of alumni from the United States and Canada who can tell you why our experience not just any Taglit-Birthright Israel trip. Learn More: Why Young Judaea
When can I register?
The trips are offered in two separate seasons. Winter trips are offered in December, January, February, and March. Registration typically opens for winter trips in mid-September each year. Summer trips are offered in May, June, July, and August. Registration typically opens for summer trips in mid-February each year. In general, registration only stays open for about a week each season. Registrations do not carry over from season to season, but returning applicants do receive priority status for future rounds if they are not selected. Learn More: Registration & Trip Dates
Will I be safe?
Ensuring your security and safety are the primary concerns of Taglit-Birthright Israel and Young Judaea. Please refer to the Security & Safety section for more information about our approach to providing a touring experience in Israel that is safe, secure, and still incredibly exciting.
What are the departure dates?
Trips are offered in two season each year: winter and summer. Winter trips take place in December, January, February, and March. Summer trips take place in May, June, July, and August. Registration for winter season trips typicall opens in mid-September. Registration for summer season trips typically opens in mid-February. Actual departure dates are not released until after registration has opened for a given season.
What airlines are used?
Our group flights are booked on EL AL Airlines, Continental, Delta, US Airways and a number of European airlines. Most group flights originate from New York (JFK Airport or Newark Airport). Participants are always responsible for arranging their own travel to the departure airport, and actual flight details are released once we have assigned you to a trip.
How do I get my plane ticket?
All tickets are issued electronically, and you will receive a printed copy at the airport. It is impossible to reserve seats on the plane in advance. Additional airport meeting instructions will be sent to you once you have been confirmed on a specific flight group.
Can I extend my ticket?
Definitely. You can stay longer in Israel...up to 90 days depending on the airline. And you can arrange for your extension before the trip or during the trip. Extra fees do apply. All of the details are in the Flight Details section. Unfortunately, extensions can only be made for the end of the program. It is not possible to arrive in Israel ahead of the group.
Am I guaranteed a spot on this trip?
The maximum number of total spaces for any round of trips will be determined by Taglit-Birthright Israel, based on available funding and other factors. If the total number of applicants exceeds the number of spaces available, some applicants will be assigned to a waitlist. Your chance of being put on a waitlist depends on when you registered as well as which trip dates you have requested.
How is the order of trip assignments determined?
Because we know that there are frequently more eligible applicants than there are available spots on the trip, our goal as an organization is to keep the process as fair as possible. Young Judaea assigns applicants to trips according to when you complete your application. We consider your application to be complete after you have fully finished the Primary Application – including submitting the refundable trip deposit (Trip Deposit?). We recommend completing the Primary Application with Young Judaea on the first day of registration to give yourself the best chance of getting on the trip you want. All applications received on the first day will be treated the same no matter what time of day they are received. In addition to honoring a first-come-first-served registration policy, priority trip selection status is granted to applicants who have applied in the past as well as applicants who are about to turn 27 and age out of the program.
How are the groups organized?
Individual groups are typically made up of 40 participants plus staff. The staff on each group includes a licensed Israeli tour guide, two North American peer chaperones, an Israeli guard/medic, a driver, other support staff. The hotels that we use during the program accommodate three participants to a room with three separate beds. Room assignments are chosen by participants during the trip.
What if the flight that I want is not available?
Trip dates are determined directly by Taglit-Birthright Israel. Typically, trip dates are issued in multiple stages. Even if the trip date you want is not offered in the initial allocation, it may be offered soon after. If your first choice of trip dates is not available originally, we do suggest that you select as many back-up trip dates as possible just in case your ideal dates do not get issued. Trip date selections can be entered and updated anytime on the Secondary Application once you have fully completed the Primay Application.
Where will the other participants come from?
One major advantage to the Young Judaea expereince is that participants generally come from all over the United States. In other words, in addition to having a fantastic experience in Israel, you will have the opportunity to bond with participants from all over the country and from all backgrounds. Keep in mind, that in order to get onto a USA trip you must either be a temporary or a permanent resident of the USA. Some Young Judaea trips are organized for specific campus groups (Ages 18-22) and community groups (Ages 22-26).
Can I go on the same trip as a friend?
Of course! After completing the registration process, you will have an opportunity to let us know who you would like to travel with in Israel when you choose trip dates on the Secondary Application. We will be happy to accommodate you. Just keep in mind that since ticketing is done on a first come basis, it is critical that you and your friends register, get interviewed, and submit the required paperwork all at the same time. Also, while we can try to make sure that you are in the same group and room as a friend, we are not able to assign specific seats on the flight to/from Israel. Requesting seats can only be done at the airport on the day of departure (an additional reason to get to the airport early!)
What about health insurance while I am in Israel?
All participants on a Taglit-Birthright Israel program are required to have valid health insurance that is acceptable in Israel. If you do not have your own policy or if your policy does not cover you abroad, you must arrange for temporary travelers insurance. You will be asked for your medical insurance policy number as part of the Secondary Application.
Will I have any free time during the trip?
While the trip itinerary is quite intensive, we do set aside plenty of time for relaxation and personal exploration. That being said, because we take your safety and security so seriously, there will understandably be some limits on your free time, especially when we are touring in the larger cities. If you have family or friends who wish to visit you during the trip, they are most welcome to meet you at one of the hotels where we will be staying. We recommend that they visit either at night or on a Saturday morning/afternoon (which is basically down time on the trip). Otherwise, there is one truly free night on the trip, usually in Tel Aviv. Other than this one free night, unfortunately, you will not be able to leave the group during the program under any circumstances.
Is this trip intended for people who are religious?
Because Taglit-Birthright Israel is only open to individuals who have never been to Israel on an organized peer trip, it is natural that there will be many participants on the trip who are not religious or who may have only a very limited connection to their Jewish identity. Young Judaea accommodates Jewish applicants of all backgrounds alike. Although we do not like labels, the trip itself is considered "non-denominational", which is to say that everyone should feel welcome and there is no religious agenda whatsover. We've planned these trips carefully, and we take great pride in knowing that participants from all Jewish backgrounds will feel comfortable with traveling with us. Past experience has also taught us that having a group made up of participants from diverse Jewish backgrounds makes the Taglit-Birthright Israel experience that much more interesting and special.
Is the winter season a good time to travel in Israel?
Yes. Israel has a moderate, Mediterranean climate. Winter weather is typically warm during the day, although evenings may be cool and it may rain. In the winter, we spend more time in the southern areas of Israel such as the Negev Desert and the Judean Desert to take advantage of warmer weather.
Is summer season a good time to travel in Israel?
Yes. Israel is sunny with long days and literally no chance of rain at all. Summer trips tend to spend more time in the northern Galilee region where it is cooler and less time in the southern desert areas. Summer trips almost always include outdoors activities such as rafting on the Jordan River and water hikes that are not possible in the winter. On the downside, it can sometimes be intensely hot in the summer!
Not very. Here are some very important limitations to keep in mind:
- You must depart for Israel with the group from the scheduled gateway airport
- You can not meet the group in Israel...even if you are already in Europe at the time
- If you do not extend your ticket till after flight departs Israel, your ticket will be void
- You can not pay extra for a stopover or to change your return flight destination
- It's impossible to get frequent flier miles for your ticket given the nature of the ticket
If any of these limitations comer as bad news to you, we are sorry! Please take our word that it is impossible to get around them! Much more Flight Details are available on our web site in the Pre-Trip Preparation section.
Who staffs the trips?
Each individual group is comprised of one professional Israeli guide, two North American peer staffers, one or two medic/security escorts, and a bus driver. Our guides tend to be men and women in their late 20's or 30s. We choose guides that are energetic and charismatic and understand how to connect with the group and share the beauty of Israel. Our peer staffers from North America tend to be in their 20s (usually one male and one female), and we choose them based on their prior experience in Israel and based on their leadership skills. The medics/security escorts are usually men and women that recently completed their service in the Israeli Defense Forces. They are on the group to help deal with any medical issues that come up and to make sure that we are always traveling in a safe environment. Finally, the bus driver usually provides the "color" for the group. There's nothing quite like an Israeli bus driver. You will have to experience it for yourself.
Will I learn Hebrew on this trip?
While this trip is not about classroom learning, there will be plenty of opportunities to pick up a little Hebrew from the guide, from the medics, and from Israelis that you will meet on the street. Hebrew is a very colorful and vibrant language...with especially rich slang.
Will this be an amazing experience?
Yes it will. Of course!
How do I sign up or get more information?
If you are ready to register, please go to our Registration & Trip Dates page for full instructions. If you still have questions, we will be more than happy to walk you through the details and give you all of the information that you need to make a smart decision. Just email us or call 1-866-520-9993. We look forward to helping you start your own Taglit-Birthright Israel journey with Young Judaea.