Congregational Trip to Israel December 2018 FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Trip Overview
Logistics
Registration Information
Trip Leadership
More Information
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Trip Overview

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.

Why December 2018?
We have found that travel during Winter Break works for the widest selection of members of all ages. Fortunately, in December 2018, public, private, and Jewish day schools will all have similar Winter Break dates.

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 a 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. View a 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 a 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 a draft of the itinerary.

  • • Israel Today and Tomorrow • 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 Nadine Habousha Cohen and Mark Hirsch. Led by Rabbi Charlie Savenor. View a 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, which allows each group to build community and experience Israel through their respective demographic lenses. 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 before and after your touring days, including a spectacular Shabbat together in Jerusalem.

What are the Communal Moments and when are they?
Communal moments are occasions when all five tracks come together as one PAS community. On the first morning, all the tracks will be together in Tel Aviv for an opening breakfast and welcome to Israel before each track sets off on own itinerary. We will come back together in Jerusalem for a community gathering Wednesday evening, and we will celebrate Shabbat together as a community. Finally, we will conclude the trip with a communal celebration of Israel’s 70th and PAS’s 136th before we return to New York. There will be activities for children and adults of all ages at our communal moments. 

What if our children are in different age groups? Which track do we pick? May we split up?
We encourage families to choose the track that works best for the majority of their family. You may divide up between tracks as long as there is at least one parent or substitute (grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.) with children under 18 years old.

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 morning. 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, led by Rabbi Savenor, 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.

What if I have never been to Israel?
Join us! Traveling to Israel with your synagogue community is a transformative experience. You will get to know your clergy and community, meet new people, feel closer to the land of Israel, and have fun! This trip is not to be missed!

What if this will be my gazillionth trip to Israel?
Join us! Israel is constantly changing, and we are always discovering new angles on it. Tracks are designed for members of all demographics, and there will be unique experiences, delicious food, music, learning, and encounters that you will never forget. We are confident that even if you have been there before, you will find this trip to Israel with your synagogue community to be meaningful, memorable and enjoyable!

May I bring family members who aren’t PAS members?
We welcome PAS members to bring their parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. Any other family members (siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins) must join PAS in order to register for the trip. Learn more about membership, or contact Rachel Benichak at rbenichak@pasyn.org or 212-369-2600 x195.

May I bring friends who aren’t PAS members?
PAS travel experiences are designed for members of the PAS community. We encourage you to invite your friends and welcome them to join PAS. Learn more about membership or contact Rachel Benichak at rbenichak@pasyn.org or 212-369-2600 x-195.

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

What if I have a Bnei Mitzvah-age child but have already participated in a PAS Bnei Mitzvah Family trip?
We have had families participate in multiple Bnei Mitzvah trips and enjoy each one. We welcome you to join us again on the Bnei Mitzvah Family track.

The group Bnei Mitzvah experience and celebration will take place on Thursday morning, December 27, on top of Masada. In addition to being a wonderful family milestone, this is a memorable Bnei Mitzvah track moment. The Bnei Mitzvah children will also have a special part in our communal Shabbat services.

If you are choosing a different track because of the age of your other children, 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 morning. 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.

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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?
We are holding a block of 160 seats with El Al on the flights listed below. These seats must be booked through Da'at. The estimated fare is $1,700 per person, including all taxes; the final price will be set 11 months prior to departure.

Departure: NYC to TLV, December 22, 2018
Flights: LY008 (from JFK) and LY026 (from EWR)

Return: TLV to NYC, December 31, 2018
Flights: LY001 (to JFK) and LY027 (to EWR)

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 at 7:00 pm. More details to follow.

May we arrive early even if we are not on either pre-trip?
You are welcome to fly to Israel at any time, as long as you arrange to either meet the group at the airport at 5:30 pm or at your track's dinner location at 7:00 pm on Sunday, December 23. More details to follow.

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.

Will PAS provide a "suggested" packing list?
Yes, a recommended packing list will be provided closer to departure. Plan on bringing layers for warmth and easy-to-tote rain gear.

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?
We have experience dealing with food allergies on PAS trips. Please note any allergies on your registration form. Da'at will do their very best to accommodate your dietary needs. Please note that many foods in Israel include nuts and sesame. Again, we will work with every family and participant to create the best possible experience for you.

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 above. 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.

Will I be able meet other people who are going on the trip before we leave?
PAS gives as much attention to pre-trip gatherings, educational sessions, and community-building as to the itinerary and the day-to-day details of the journey itself. A pillar of our PAS travel philosophy is that a trip is just part of our communal learning experience. Our trips are followed up with gatherings and reunions to continue the conversation long after we have returned home, and to share our experiences and learning with the rest of our community.

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Registration Information

When does registration open?
There was a tremendous outpouring of interest in the Congregational Trip to Israel in December 2018 and all tracks are full at this time. We do encourage you to call Da’at to add your names to the wait list. You can reach Da’at Customer Service at 888-811-2812. Not only are there always cancellations, but we are working on getting more rooms in the hotels. Thank you for your patience and your wonderful participation in this once-in-a-generation journey!

How do I register?
Registration is handled through our trip provider, Da'at. If you would like to be added to the wait list, please call Da'at at 888-811-2812. Please note, PAS staff does not handle registration. 

What do I need to register?
You must know which track you would like to join and you must have your passport information on hand when you register. Please be prepared to pay the deposit when you register as well. 

Is a deposit required upon registration?
Yes, a non-refundable deposit of $300 per person is due upon registration.

How much does the trip cost?
Pricing is different for each track. Pricing is for land cost only. It does not include the cost of flights or tips.

Young Family Track
Per person, sharing a double room: $4,355
Single Supplement: +$1,435
Child sharing in a room as 3rd ONLY (Ages 2-12) Reduction: -$1,000
Child sharing in a room as 3rd ONLY (Ages 13-18) Reduction: $-460

Bnei Mitzvah Track
Per person, sharing a double room: $4,230
Single Supplement: +$1,245
Child sharing in a room as 3rd ONLY Reduction: -$850
Bnei Mitzvah Child sharing in a room as 3rd ONLY (ages 12-13) Reduction: -$990

Teen Family Track
Per person sharing a double room: $4,259
Single Supplement: +$1,245
Child sharing in a room as 3rd ONLY (Ages 2-18) Reduction: -$850

Israel 2.0 for Young Adults and Their Families and Anyone Who Is Young at Heart
Per person sharing a double room: $4,195
Single Supplement: +$1,340

Israel Today and Tomorrow
Per person sharing a double room: $4,345
Single Supplement: +$1,280

Adult First Timers Pre-Trip
per person, sharing a double room: $1,796
Single Supplement: +$814

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?
Yes, please register through Da’at to reserve your spot and then complete this form to be considered for a need-based scholarship. This form must be submitted to Beryl Chernov, PAS Executive Director, no later than Friday, December 29. This process is completely confidential. Please note, if you apply and do not receive financial assistance by January 31st and decide not to participate on the trip, your deposit will be refunded. 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. Clergy leadership of each track are noted above, and lead senior staff will be announced in the following months. Additional staff will be added as registration requires.

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

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
Israel Today and Tomorrow (Adult Learning): Nadine Habousha Cohen 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.

If I have a suggestion or recommendation for the trip, whom do I tell?
We are grateful to everyone who has shared their thoughts, feedback, suggestions and wish lists for the trip. Even if we were to make aliyah, we wouldn't have enough time to implement them all, but we love the enthusiasm and are so grateful for the helpful suggestions we have received so far! If you have ideas for the trip, please contact Rabbi Charlie Savenor at csavenor@pasyn.org or 212-369-2600, x136.

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. While we are not planning on including armed security guards with our group during the trip, PAS reserves the right to add security at any time at an additional cost per person. If we decide to add security guards, you will be notified.  

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.