Congregational Trip to Israel December 2018 FAQ

Trip Information
Registration Information
Trip Leadership
More Information
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Logistics

Who is our travel partner?
After a robust selection process, PAS partnered with Da'at. If you have questions about registration, you can contact Da'at at daattravel.com or call 888-811-2812.

What flights does PAS recommend? Can I use my airline miles or do I have to purchase the flights through Da'at?
There are group flights to and from JFK and Newark Airports. Alternatively, you may purchase seats on these flights or on other flights by booking on the internet or with a travel agent, using miles if you have them. If you do not fly with the group, you must either meet the group at Ben-Gurion Airport at 5:30 pm or make your own arrangements to meet your track at dinner in Tel Aviv.

Group Flights
To/From John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK):
Depart from JFK on December 22 on El Al flight #008 at 11:50pm, arriving to TLV on December 23 at 5:10pm.
Depart from TLV on December 31 on El Al flight #001 at 12:30am, arriving to JFK at 5:45am.
• Economy class tickets, airfare $1,700.
• Business class tickets, airfare $5,645.

To/From Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR):
Depart from EWR on December 22 on El Al flight #026 at 9:00pm, arriving to TLV on December 23 at 2:20pm.
Depart from TLV on December 31 on El Al flight #027 at 1:00am, arriving to EWR at 6:20am.
• Economy class tickets, airfare $1,700.
• Business class tickets, airfare $5,645.

How do we get from the airport to the hotel?
Da’at will be emailing all trip participants with information about transfers the week of December 10. Everyone who arrives on Sunday, December 23 will be picked up from the airport and transferred by bus to the Tel Aviv Hilton. We will meet after Passport Control in the Baggage Claim Hall at Ben Gurion Airport. Da’at Staff will be there with signs to greet us. For anyone arriving early for a pre-trip, you will have a separate protocol.

What if I arrive early but am not on a pre-trip?
You are welcome to arrive early in Israel, even if you are not on a pre-trip. Please plan to be at the Tel Aviv Hilton by 5:00 pm on Sunday December 23rd. You can arrive at the hotel as early as 3:30 pm to check in. There will be Da’at staff at the hotel to greet you.

What do I need to know about passports?
Your passports must be up-to-date before travel. Remember to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the final day of the trip to ensure smooth and easy travel. Please make 1 copy of your passport to bring with you on the trip.

Will we get name tags?
You will receive a name tag upon arrival that will have your bus assignment, the options you have chosen, and your seating assignment at the communal dinners on Wednesday and Friday. Your name tag not only identifies you as part of our PAS group, it facilitates our getting to know each other. Please wear your name tag at all times during the trip.

How will we get access information about the trip?
Please download the Da’at App. The app contains your track’s itinerary and all tracks’ Bio Books and rosters. It also contains songs, resources, maps, Siddur pages, hotel info, and the bios of speakers and guides.

How will we communicate on the trip?
We will create WhatsApp groups for each track so please download the app before the trip. In addition to making in person announcements, we will share updates and announcements about the trip via the track WhatsApp groups.

What is the weather like in Israel in December?
Temperatures will range from moderate to cold, and the winter is Israel’s rainy season. We encourage you to bring layers and rain gear.

Will PAS provide a "suggested" packing list?
You can find the Da'at packing list here. Da'at also has additional travel tips.

We have also put together a few additional packing tips:
Track 1 – Young Family Packing Tips
Track 2 – Bnei Mitzvah Packing Tips
Track 3 – Teen Track Packing Tips

Please remember to bring:
• Comfortable walking shoes and boots
• Clothing for Shabbat and Communal Dinners – For men, button downs with nice slacks are appropriate, along with sweaters. While sports coats are optional, ties are not needed. For women, either a blouse or sweater with a skirt or slacks, or a dress are appropriate.
• Remember to bring your PAS Sweatshirt (Wash it first!)
• Your travel Siddur that you will need for Shabbat, the Bnei Mitzvah ceremony (Tracks 2 and 3), and minyan, if you choose to participate.
• Kippot – While we will have kippot available on the trip, feel free to pack your own.
• Tallit and tefillin, if you wear them.
• Converters and chargers.
• A small “daypack” to carry anything you might need during the day.
• A small, packable overnight bag (see next section below)
• Please label all of your outer clothing and carry-alongs – PAS sweatshirts, sweaters and jackets, knapsacks, cell phones, etc. If you leave something on a restaurant chair, having your name on it will make it much easier to return it to you!
• Laundry service is available at the hotels where we are staying.

What else do I need to do before I leave for Israel?
• Call your banks and credit card companies to alert them of your travel.
• If you plan to get international cell service, please contact your cell phone company to arrange for this before the trip.
• If you have medications, please make sure you have enough for the trip. For the flights, please pack them on your carrying-on. Please make sure to bring any over-the-counter medicine that you might want to have handy as it may be available by prescription only in Israel. In medical care is needed in Israel, every hotel has a list of local doctors that they recommend.
• You can get Israeli Shekels from the ATM at the airport or one near the hotel.
Pay your Tips for Da’at guides, hostesses, youth counselors, and bus drivers

How will security be managed on the trip?
PAS takes security and safety very seriously. All of the hotels, museums and major venues in Israel provide security. After consulting with Da’at and with PAS staff and lay leaders, we have decided to add one security guard to each track. There will be an additional surcharge of $72 per person to cover this security staff. Please pay this additional fee through this online form.

What resources do you recommend as our family prepares for this trip?
We have collected an initial list of recommended readings to help you prepare for your trip. You can view the list here. We also have a list of recommended movies and TV shows, which you can view here. We will continue to update resources here in the coming months.

What happens if I get sick in Israel?
Our hostess will assist with finding you medical care in Israel.

What if a family member has food allergies?
Here are the measures in place to create a safe environment for everyone on the trip, especially those who have allergies and dietary restrictions:
• Da’at staff (hostesses and tour guides) and PAS staff have received a list of allergies and will be briefed about the allergies that exist on each track.
• Da’at has prepared allergy cards for all participants with allergies to carry throughout the trip. These cards identify the allergies in Hebrew and English.
• All organized meals on our program will be “nut aware,” meaning that there will be no visible nuts. For those with allergies, meals will be provided that address your dietary restrictions.
• Be aware that you may be on a bus with fellow travelers who have a nut allergy. With this in mind, we request that you not bring snacks containing nuts on the bus.
• If you have an allergy, we recommend that you bring from home enough snacks to sustain you through the week. It is tempting to buy “native” snacks, but even for those who read Hebrew, it can be difficult to interpret the ingredients list on a package to make certain that the item is safe for you to eat. With familiar snacks from home, you can get your between-meals energy boost safely.
• Some participants have allergies and sensitivities to cologne and perfume. Please consider bringing unscented hand lotions, etc., especially for use on the bus, and avoid or go light on the use of cologne.

What if a family member has special needs?
Inclusion is an important value of PAS. Please note any accommodation requests on your registration form. We will do our best to accommodate your needs and will be in touch if there are any issues. We will begin working with families and participants as soon as possible to create the best experience for everyone. To discuss your concerns, please contact Rabbi Charlie Savenor at csavenor@pasyn.org or 212-369-2600, x136.

Will there be any free time for shopping and seeing family or friends?
Each track's itinerary is chock-full of important sites and experiences, and there is also some free time in each one. While there are some opportunities to shop, go for coffee, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Israel, if you would like extended time with family and friends, we encourage you to come ahead or stay after the trip.

When will the itineraries be available?
Draft itineraries are available below. It is important to note that these are drafts and that they are subject to change at any time. Updated drafts will be posted online and shared with participants at pre-trip gatherings before our departure in December 2018.

Trip Information

When is the trip?
The trip will depart New York on Saturday night, December 22, 2018, and arrive in Israel on Sunday, December 23. The trip will conclude on December 30. We will depart Israel in the early morning hours of December 31, arriving in NYC during the day on December 31.

Does the trip have a theme?
Yes, we are celebrating Israel at 70 and PAS at 136!

For whom is the trip appropriate?
All PAS members are invited to join us on this Congregational Trip to Israel. There will be five tracks, each exploring Israel through a different lens and each with its own age-appropriate itineraries. All tracks will interact with Israelis, discuss the issues of the day – the geo-political situation, religious pluralism, and Jewish peoplehood – and participate in tikkun olam (social justice) projects. All tracks will come together for several unforgettable communal moments.

What are the five tracks?

  • • Young Family Track • Geared toward families with children ages 4–10, their siblings and parents; grandparents welcome. First-timers and returning travelers welcome. Chaired by Jessica Cohen and Ali Kwiat. Led by Cantor Azi Schwartz. View the most current draft of the itinerary.

  • • Bnei Mitzvah Family Track • Geared toward families with children ages 11–14 (either preceding or following their Bnei Mitzvah experience), their siblings, and parents; grandparents welcome. First-timers and returning travelers welcome. Chaired by Diane Hess and Stephanie Levey. Led by Rabbi Neil Zuckerman and Cantor Rachel Brook. View the most current draft of the itinerary.

  • • Teen Family Track • Geared toward families with teenagers (8-12th grades), their siblings and parents. While first-timers are welcome, this active, experiential teen-focused track will intentionally include sites, activities, and experiences that build upon a first timer’s experience. Chaired by David Chasen and Stefanie Katz-Rothman. Led by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove. View the most current draft of the itinerary.

  • • Israel 2.0 for Young Adults and Their Families and Anyone Who Is Young at Heart • Geared for adults and families with college-age children, young adults, their siblings, and parents. All participants will enjoy experiencing Israel through art, culture, culinary and current events, and face-to-face conversations with Israelis. While first-timers are welcome, this track will not hit first-time highlights; we encourage first-timers to consider the Adult First-Timer Pre-Trip (see below). Chaired by Alyssa First, Rachael First, Randi Goldberg, and Vicki Warner. Led by Rabbi Ethan Witkovsky. View the most current draft of the itinerary.

  • • Looking at Israel 20/20 • Geared for adult learners who are interested in a stimulating and engaging learning experience featuring thought leaders, military experts, artists, scholars and chefs. While first-timers are welcome, this track will not hit first-time highlights; we encourage first-timers to consider the Adult First-Timer Pre-Trip (see below). Chaired by Susan Smirnoff and Mark Hirsch. Led by Rabbi Charlie Savenor. View the most current draft of the itinerary.

How much time do we spend with our track and how much with the larger group?
More than 60% of the touring time on the trip is spent with your track. The entire group will come together for special communal moments. All tracks will stay at the same hotels the first night in Tel Aviv and the five nights in Jerusalem, so there will be ample opportunity to see PAS friends and family members on other tracks.

What are the Communal Moments and when are they?
Communal moments are occasions when all five tracks come together as one PAS community. 
• Monday Morning – Communal Breakfast in Tel Aviv
• Wednesday Evening – Celebrating Israel at 70 and PAS at 136! in Jerusalem
• Friday Evening – Celebrating Shabbat together in Jerusalem, including Shabbat dinner with conversation and learning following the meal
• Saturday – Kiddush Luncheon
• Saturday Evening – Community Havdallah and Concert
There will be activities for children and adults of all ages at our communal moments. 

Can I switch between tracks during the trip?
Owing to security and logistics, it is not possible to switch tracks during the trip. Participants in all tracks will see each other in the evenings when all tracks will stay at the same hotels the first night in Tel Aviv and all five nights in Jerusalem, and everyone will be together for the communal moments. If you choose a different track, and you want your Bnei Mitzvah-age child to participate in the group Bnei Mitzvah experience, your family may join the Bnei Mitzvah track for the group Bnei Mitzvah experience on Thursday, December 27. Additionally, if your family is split between multiple tracks, and you have a family member who will participate in the Bnei Mitzvah experience, you may join for this event to observe your family member's ceremony. This is the only time that anyone may temporarily switch tracks, and owing to security and logistics, it must be requested and arranged ahead of the trip. We will arrange to have your family re-join your track after the Bnei Mitzvah experience and celebration.

Are there any PAS-organized pre-trips?
Yes, two: an Adult First-Timers Trip and a PAS Leadership Shabbaton

  • • Adult First-Timers Pre-Trip
    Designed for adult learners who are new to Israel, this pre-trip will depart New York on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 (arriving in Israel on Thursday, December 20). Over three days and nights, you will hit the major historical and tourist highlights of Israel and will arrive in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon, December 23, ready to begin the Congregational Trip with your track. View the current draft of the itinerary
     
  • • Leadership Shabbaton Pre-Trip
    Open only to PAS Board Members and presidents/chairs/vice chairs of Arms and Committees, this pre-trip will depart New York in the early afternoon on Thursday, December 20 (arriving in Israel on Friday, December 21) and will provide an opportunity to learn together over Shabbat and Sunday. Spouses are welcome, and childcare can be arranged through Da’at with prior notice, but families of participants may prefer to wait and fly with the group on Saturday night. Registration information will be sent under separate cover for this pre-trip.

Are there any PAS organized post-trips?
PAS has not arranged any formal post-trips. We know that travelers may want to visit family and friends in Israel or return to NYC for New Year's, work, or school. If you would like to arrange a post-trip stay in Israel, a visit to Petra, or other touring, Da’at can help you with your arrangements. Contact daattravel.com or call 888-811-2812.

May I sign-up just for the Communal Moments?
If you plan to be in Israel during the week of the trip and are interested in joining one of the PAS communal moments, you can add your name to a list to participate if there is space.

May I bring a caregiver for my children?
Caregivers are welcome. Their registration process and costs are the same as all participants.

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Registration Information

Due to a tremendous outpouring of interest, the trip is full at this time. We do encourage you to call Da’at to add your name to the waitlist should a spot open up on the trip. Da’at’s Customer Service line is 888-811-2812.

What is the cancellation policy?
Payment and Cancellation Policy:
A $300 per person, non-refundable, non-transferable deposit is due at the time of reservation unless otherwise indicated.
Full payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Payments made within 21 days of departure must be in the form of a certified check or credit card.
Cancellation costs:
• If you cancel, up to 60 days prior to departure, you forfeit $300/person
• If you cancel 59 to 31 days prior to departure, you forfeit 50% of tour cost
• If you cancel 30 days to day of departure or are a no-show, you forfeit 100% of tour cost

Should I get travel insurance?
Yes, we strongly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance. Please call Travel Insured through Traveland at 1-800-246-0452 (ext. 223) for information on their insurance programs. It is important to note that some insurance programs provide more comprehensive coverage when the policy is purchased in proximity to your initial trip deposit.

Are need-based scholarships available?
There are need-based scholarships available. You must register with Da'at and then complete this form to be considered for a need-based scholarship. This form must be submitted to Beryl Chernov, PAS Executive Director. This process is completely confidential. If you have additional questions about this process, please contact Beryl Chernov at bchernov@pasyn.org or 212-369-2600, x111.

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Trip Leadership

Which members of the clergy and staff are going?
All members of the PAS clergy will be on the trip, as will many members of the senior education and administrative teams. 
Track 1 is led by Cantor Azi Schwartz and by Liz Offenbach, Jamie Diamond and Pamela Schartz.
Track 2 is led by Rabbi Neil Zuckerman and Cantor Rachel Brook, and by Rachel Singer, Jessie Lavintman, Ellen Alt and Zack Friedman.
Track 3 is led by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove and by Niki Fleishman, Josh Rosenberg and Rachel Zorbaron.
Track 4 is led by Rabbi Ethan Witkovsky and by Beryl Chernov and Rebecca Cushman.
Track 5 is led by Rabbi Charlie Savenor and by Mara Bernstein and Marga Hirsch and Karin Lagziel.
Additional staff will be announced soon. 

Who are the lay leaders who have been involved in planning the trip?

Honorary Chairs

Amy Bressman, Paul Corwin, and Art Penn

Honorary Committee

Natalie and Brett Barth, Marc and Caryn Becker, Geoffrey Colvin, Marcia Eppler Colvin, Joan Davis, Rachael and Mark First, Andrea Baumann Lustig, Brian Lustbader, David Parker, Nan and Howard Rubin, Melvin Schweitzer, Lynn and Martin Halbfinger, Amy and Neil Steiner, Mark and Dena Hirsch, Bryce and Lizzy Markus, Craig and Diane Solomon

Trip Chairs

Amy Steiner and Darcy Dalton

Track Chairs

Young Family Track: Jessica Cohen and Ali Kwiat
Bnei Mitzvah Family Track: Diane Hess and Stephanie Levey
Teen Family Track: David Chasen and Stefanie Katz-Rothman
Israel 2.0 for Young Adults and Their Families and Anyone Who Is Young at Heart: Alyssa First, Rachael First, Randi Goldberg, and Vicki Warner
Looking at Israel 20/20 : Susan Smirnoff and Mark Hirsch

Ruach Committee

What is a Ruach Committee? Ruach means “spirit.” The Ruach Committee is made up of enthusiastic travelers who are encouraging others to sign up for the trip. They will reinforce group spirit as we prepare to travel and once we are on our way. All are invited to join!

Please email Rabbi Charlie Savenor at csavenor@pasyn.org if you would like to be a "cheerleader" and help build our sense of community and adventure.

Who is on the Ruach Committee?
(List in formation; all are welcome.)
Amy Chasen, Alyssa First, Mark First, Karen Frankel, Ellen Harrow, Fred Kastenbaum, Stephen Levey, Brett Rosenberg, James Rothman, Andrew Siegel 

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More Information

Whom do I contact with questions about the trip?
Please contact Da'at Customer Service: 888-811-2812. The center is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am–5:30 pm EST. At PAS, please contact Rabbi Charlie Savenor at csavenor@pasyn.org or Hannah Vaughn at hvaughn@pasyn.org. 

How will security be managed on the trip?

PAS takes security and safety very seriously. All of the hotels, museums and major venues in Israel provide security. After consulting with Da’at and with PAS staff and lay leaders, we have decided to add one security guard to each track. There will be an additional surcharge of $72 per person to cover this security staff. Please pay this additional fee through this online form.

A NOTE ABOUT SECURITY FROM DA'AT

We certainly appreciate your concerns any questions you might have about security in Israel. We understand your need to be best prepared for any eventuality. We also understand that we share a tremendous responsibility for the well-being of those who have chosen to travel to Israel with us, and appreciate the trust that you place in our team.

Please know that the safety of all of our program participants during their visit to Israel is our top priority.

2017 has been a record year in Tourism to Israel. In any case, as always, we at Da'at are prepared to address changing situations that may impact visitors.

Regardless of the security situation, all travel programs are approved daily by the "situation monitoring room," which is a body administered by the Israel Ministry of Education. This body coordinates between the Israel Defense Forces or IDF, the Israeli Police and other security authorities.

In addition, we are in contact with the local version of Homeland Security, which advises us if unusual security threats exist and tell us what measures we need to undertake. We will not hesitate to change a well-planned out itinerary at a moment's notice, and we will aim to not place travelers in harm's way.

Our team is looking forward to welcoming you in Israel and we are available to speak with you and address any questions and concerns that you may have.