Things to Consider When Choosing a Teen Israel Experience
Sponsor and Program Philosophy
- What organization sponsors this program? What is the sponsor's primary mission and philosophy?
- What are the sponsor's "teaching objectives" for the program? What components of the itinerary and other aspects of the program are designed to accomplish these objectives?
- How comfortable am I with this sponsor?
Health and Safety
- What kind of medical services are available?
- What provisions are made to accommodate individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions?
- Is any special insurance coverage needed or advisable?
- How are emergencies handled? How are parents contacted?
- What safety standards do subcontractors like bus companies meet?
- What arrangements are made to ensure security?
- What modes of travel, other than bus, are used?
- Is kosher food always available? Required? (Are there vegetarian menu options?) Are all food arrangements handled by the program?
- What is the level of religious observance? How are Shabbat and other holidays observed?
- What are the arrangements and expectations regarding prayer?
- Are there opportunities to attend services in settings compatible with participants' background and practice?
- Are participants exposed to diverse cultures and approaches to Judaism?
- What are program policies on alcohol, drugs, physical intimacy, smoking, and being away from the group during time that is not "free"?
- Under what circumstances are participants sent home?
Keeping in Touch with Home
- Does the program have offices in the U.S. and Israel for easy communication with parents?
- How do parents contact participants if there is an emergency at home?
- How does the program communicate with parents during the trip? How are participants encouraged to communicate with parents?
- If participants have friends or relatives in Israel, can arrangements be made for getting together?
- What is the age range of participants?
- How many participants (and groups of participants) are in the program? In each group? Where do most participants come from? New York? Nationwide? International?
- Is everyone from similar religious and ideological backgrounds?
- Are men and women together or separated?
- What is the staff/participant ratio?
- Will a tour educator travel with the group?
- How have counselors, tour guides or tour educators been trained?
- What sites are visited in Israel?
- Will the group go to the West Bank? Jordan?
- Does the trip include travel to Eastern Europe?
- What makes this trip special? The arts, science, archeology, sports, outdoor adventure, intellectual challenge, leadership development, etc.?
- Does everyone stay together, or are there options for small groups/individual choices?
- Are there formal classes? Scholars-in-residence? Special speakers?
- Does the program include volunteer work experiences? What kind? For what portion of the trip?
- Does the group spend time with Israeli teens? Israel families? New immigrants?
- How are evenings programmed?
- Is there free time? How much? Where? Will it be supervised?
- What is the program's home base? Are there overnights away? Where and for how long?
- In what types of facilities is the group housed?
- Do participants have single rooms? Doubles? More than two to a room? How are roommates selected?
- Is there home hospitality?
Other Important Things to Know
- What is the complete cost of the program (air, land arrangements, special fees, recommended spending money)?
- Is financial aid available from the program or sponsoring movement?
- What is the screening process for applicants?
- Is the program sensitive to the needs (cultural and other) of all teens, including New Americans?
- Can I get names and phone numbers of trip alumni in my area, so I can call and ask about the program?
- What kind of pre- or post-trip programming does the program sponsor offer? Is pre-trip study or follow-up activity required?