Israel: Frequently Asked Questions

What should I wear to the Kotel? How out can I be as an LGBTQ person traveling in Israel? These are two of the most popular question people asks us before traveling to Israel. Here are all the answers to 2014 A WIDER BRIDGE ISRAEL MISSION , OCTOBER 21-30, 2014: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How much does the trip cost?
How do I apply for scholarships?
How do I register?
Do I need a Passport or Visa?
When do I need to arrive?
When should I schedule my departure?
What will the accommodation be like?
Can I bring my kids?
What will the weather be like?
What should I wear?
How out can I be as an LGBTQ person traveling in Israel?
Trans/Genderqueer/Gender non-conforming travelers info
My question is not listed here

TRIPLOGO

HOW MUCH DOES THE TRIP COST?
The total land cost of the trip is $2,700 per person for double-occupancy accommodations, or $3,450 per person for single-occupancy accommodations. The tour price includes superior hotel accommodations for 9 nights, breakfast daily, eight dinners and four lunches, luxury motor coach ground transportation, professional English-speaking tour guides, and program costs. The tour price does not include air transportation to Israel. Participants arrange their own air transportation to Israel.

Please Note: A deposit of $500 is due at the time of registration. All but $250 of the deposit is refundable up until 12:00 a.m. PDT on September 15, 2014. Refund requests must be received via email to eleanor@awiderbridge.org before this time. After this time, refund requests will not b guaranteed and will be considered on a case-by-case basis based on our ability to fill your spot.
Any remaining balance is due by September 15, 2014.

I HEARD THERE ARE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE? HOW DO I QUALIFY FOR THOSE?
We have scholarship funds which will be distributed on a competitive basis. Applicants must commit to a follow-up project of their own design after the trip. The scholarship application can be found here. Scholarship applicants must also complete the online registration to be considered for a scholarship.

In addition, financial support for travel to Israel may be available through many local area Federations. If you belong to a synagogue, it may also have a scholarship fund for Israel travel, or your rabbi may be able to offer some support from their discretionary fund.

HOW DO I REGISTER?
Registration will be done online. The registration form can be found here. If you need help filling out the online form, please email eleanor@awiderbridge.org

DO I NEED A PASSPORT OR VISA?
Yes. In order to enter Israel, you need a passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry. Most people traveling on a North American or European Union member country passport will automatically be issued a three month tourist visa upon entry at Ben Gurion International Airport. Note that if you enter Israel by land (via Jordan or Egypt) or sea, your visa may only be valid for one month. If you are a dual citizen of Israel and another country, be sure to bring both passports. Israel requires that visitors with dual citizenship enter and travel within Israel on their Israeli passport.

WHEN DO I NEED TO ARRIVE?
All trip participants should plan to arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport no later than 1 pm on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. Note: Some of the inexpensive flights from the west coast of North America involve an extended layover in Europe, and so you may need to leave on Sunday, October 19th in order to arrive in Israel by Tuesday. If you will be arriving earlier than the 21st, Kenes, the company handling our travel arrangements, can help you secure a room at a good rate. We can connect you with them.

WHEN SHOULD I SCHEDULE MY DEPARTURE?
Programming will end by 6pm on Thursday, October 30th in Jerusalem. Flights booked after 10:00pm will give you enough time for transportation to the airport and to get through security. If you need a room for the night of the 30th or later, Kenes may also be able to help you with that.

WHAT WILL THE ACCOMMODATIONS BE LIKE?
We will be staying in four-star hotels throughout Israel, with comfortable, modern amenities. In most cases, the hotels are at the heart of the city center with easy access to city highlights. The full list of the hotels we will be staying at can be found here

CAN I BRING MY KIDS?
We love your kids and families, but this trip is designed with adults in mind. We will not be  doing many kid friendly activities, so we do not advise bringing kids under the age of 16. Older teenagers are welcome, but most of the participants will be in their 20s or older.

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?
Autumn in Israel is a beautiful time of year. Temperatures are temperate, averaging between 60° and 75° F in the daytime. Jerusalem and the Galilee will likely be a bit cooler than Tel Aviv. Nights in the desert can get colder, in the range of 45°-55° F.

WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
As mentioned above, the weather will be temperate, so you should be prepared for comfortably warm days as well as cooler days and evenings. Plan to dress in breathable layers, bring a fall jacket, and shoes you are comfortable walking in for many hours. We will be hiking, so bring lightweight hiking boots or athletic shoes. If you would like to go out in Tel Aviv, to experience Israel’s LGBTQ nightlife, remember to include clothing for a bar or club. We will be visiting some sites and neighborhoods in which “modest” dress is required and enforced. Generally for men this means wearing head coverings, such as kippot (skullcaps) or other hats. For women this means skirts that fall below the knee and covered shoulders. Some people choose to carry a lightweight scarf with them on a warm day, to use as a shoulder covering if necessary.

HOW OUT CAN I BE AS AN LGBTQ PERSON TRAVELING IN ISRAEL?
There will be no points in our trip when you will have to hide your sexual orientation or gender Everyone we meet with will know that we are an LGBTQ delegation from North America, and all the places we are staying are accustomed to LGBTQ guests. Israel is, by and large, a very LGBTQ-friendly country. However, different norms of behavior exist in different localities. For example, in many parts of Tel Aviv, it is not uncommon for same-sex couples to walk down the street holding hands. However, the same behavior in other parts of the country, especially in areas dominated by the Orthodox such as many parts of Jerusalem, might provoke a hostile reaction.

I AM TRANS/GENDERQUEER/GENDER NON-CONFORMING, ARE THERE THINGS I SHOULD KNOW OR BE THINKING ABOUT?
Much of Israel, and particularly the communities we will be spending time with, are trans and gendervariant friendly. However, we will also be visiting some gender segregated spaces, most notably the Old City and the Kotel (Western Wall), in Jerusalem. The section of the Wall where most people go to pray, leave written prayers/notes, etc. is gender segregated, with a men’s side and a women’s side. The dress code at the Kotel is set and enforced by the Orthodox authorities, and is as described above.

Trans and gender non-conforming people visiting the Kotel make a variety of different choices, and it is often a matter of balancing personal gender expression and identity with questions of safety and comfort. We will do our best to equip you with the knowledge and information to allow you to make whatever choices feel safest and most comfortable, and are happy to connect you with other trans and gender nonconforming people who can share their experiences.

Another option, in order to have the experience of praying (or otherwise connecting or visiting) at the Western Wall without navigating the same kind of gender expression limitations is to visi Robinson’s Arch. Robinson’s Arch, located along the Western Wall, but not in the immediate area of the gender-segregated Kotel worship areas, is often used as an egalitarian prayer space, and is not subject to the Orthodox restrictions on clothing, dress, and gender segregation.

MORE QUESTIONS?
Contact Arthur Slepian or Rabbi Eleanor Steinman at A Wider Bridge:
Arthur Slepian Executive DIrector
arthur@awiderbridge.org
Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, Director of Programs and Fund Development
eleanor@awiderbridge.org

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