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? 

Religious Observance 

  • 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? 

Program Rules

  • 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? 

The Group 

  • 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?