The A-Z for Pilgrims

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Appropriate Dress

Appropriate Dress in Israel is casual and comfortable. For the holy places, even in the summer, one must cover his or her knees (i.e. no shorts) and upper arms (i.e. no sleeveless, particularly for women). If you want to dress in shorts and/or sleeveless, always have a “modest” alternative to cover yourself when necessary. Hats are essential from April through September. Don’t forget sunglasses!

Banks

Banks are generally open from Sunday to Thursday between 8.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. and on Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays between 4 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. Most of the city banks have ATM machines where you can withdraw cash. Usually the cash is in Israeli shekels, not US dollars.

Credit Cards and Cash

Credit cards can be used for major shopping items and at some lunch cafeteria places. Cash (US dollars) is very useful – very often you can reduce the price of a souvenir by paying cash. It’s worthwhile to bring a stash of $1 bills to stick in your pocket for buying small items from the Jerusalem street vendors. If you open your wallet next to a peddler, you are in danger of losing both your credit cards and your cash.

Currency

The national unit of currency is the shekel (New Israeli Shekel, abbreviated NIS) which is divided into 100 agorot. Notes are in denominations of 20, 50, 100 and 200 shekels. Shekel coins are 10, 5, 1, and one half. Agorot coins are 10 and 5.

You can use US dollars nearly everywhere (except neighborhood grocery stores and local buses), but more often than not, you will receive change in shekels.

Don’t Lose your Passport!

If you do, you will need to go to your consulate or embassy (which closes on the weekends). It’s a very big hassle, so keep your passport in a safe place on your person, or locked in your hotel safe.

Electrical Appliances

The Israeli power supply is single phase 220 volts at 50 Hertz. Most power sockets in Israel have three pin holes, but many of them will work with double-pin European plugs. Many 4-star (and all 5-star) hotels provide hairdryers and most rooms have 110/220 shaver sockets (to be used for shavers only). Visitors who want to use traveling irons and other small appliances may need both transformers and adaptor plugs. If you need a transformer or adaptor, ask the hotel desk whether they have them on hand.

Floating in the Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea is not to be missed, no matter what season you come. Be sure to bring a bathing suit and water shoes. If you bring a newspaper and your camera, then a fellow pilgrim can photograph you bobbing like a cork as you read the newspaper.

Gifts

Gifts are a lot of fun to shop for and great mementos of the pilgrimage. Jerusalem and Bethlehem specialize in olive wood nativity sets and figures of the holy family. The Dead Sea area boasts the world-famous Ahava moisturizers and mud – guaranteed to keep you young-looking! Both in the Galilee and in Jerusalem you can find unique-looking jewelry with your favorite Bible verses or decorated with ancient Roman glass.

Health and Accident Insurance

Be sure that you have health insurance coverage. Should the need arise, ask your guide to help you make contact with a clinic or doctor. Most major hotels have a doctor on call. Magen David Adom (the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross) provides 24-hour emergency medical service in most of the urban centers. Magen David Adom also provides ambulance service to the nearest emergency room. Get copies of the appropriate forms so your American carrier will reimburse you.
Be sure you bring all the medicines you need with you. As a precaution, carry the generic names of your medications with you because pharmaceutical companies overseas may use different names from those in North America.
It’s recommended to take travel insurance that includes emergency evacuation with accompaniment. For example, if you trip while photographing and break a leg, without this type of insurance, arrangements getting home can be complicated and expensive.

Hydration

During the summer, especially, it is important to drink lots of water. Although tap water in Israel is of good quality and safe to drink, you may not be used to the high mineral content. Bottled natural spring water is available everywhere and the main point is to drink!

Internet Access

Many of the hotels provide internet stations for a fee. Some provide wireless for free and others for a fee. There are also Internet Cafes in the major cities.
Talk to us at Kenes Christian Tours about special low-season rates.

Jordan Extension Tours

Kenes Christian Tours has excellent partners in Jordan and we operate a one-day tour to Petra from Eilat on a daily basis. From Jerusalem or Tel Aviv we operate a three-day tour to Jordan which includes highlights such as Jerash, Amman, Medeba, Mount Nebo and Petra.

Kenes Christian Tours will arrange your visa and assist with other border procedures.

Kosher dietary laws

Most of the hotels you will be staying in will be observing the Jewish laws of Kashrut – which means they do not serve meat when they are serving dairy products. For example, they will not be serving butter or cheese when they are serving you beef. Your guide will be happy to explain the custom of “keeping kosher” which derives from Exodus 34.

Language

Hebrew and Arabic are Israel’s official languages. However, English is also widely spoken and you will see most highway, street and storefront signs in English as well as Hebrew and Arabic (and sometimes even in Russian!).

Medical Services

Medical care in Israel is modern and as advanced as it is in North America. If you need emergency medical service, Magen David Adom (the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross) provides 24-hour service in most of the urban centers. Magen David Adom (dial 101) also provides ambulance service to the nearest emergency room. If you take prescription medication, it is recommended to bring enough to last the duration of your trip.

Newspapers

Israel boasts two daily English newspapers, The Jerusalem Post and HaAretz, available every day except Saturday. They can be purchased at the hotel shop or at a local newsstand.

Open Attitude

You’ll encounter unfamiliar cuisine, customs and cultural norms. Experiment! An open mind and an open heart will enhance your experience.

Passports

A passport valid for at least six months past your scheduled return date is required for travel to Israel. If your passport will expire within this period, you should apply for a new passport a couple of months prior to your pilgrimage.
Make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from the original when you travel. For added security, leave a photocopy with a friend or relative at home. This will expedite matters if you do lose your passport.

Phones

Direct dialing from your hotel room overseas is not cheap. Phone credit cards are cheaper. You may access AT&T, MCI and Sprint for overseas calls from pay phones by dialing a 177 (toll-free) number. It’s best to check for your service’s number before you leave home.
Cell phones are ubiquitous. You can rent a cell phone before your departure from the U.S., upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, or via the concierge at major hotels in the large cities.

Quality

Top quality service is what you get when you organize your pilgrimage through Kenes Christian Tours. Kenes Christian Tours will customize your itinerary so that you spend quality time at the holy sites with a top-quality guide and a qualified careful courteous driver. Our prices are competitive and we give you top value for your money.

Rent a Driver-Guide

You can tour the Holy Land with an experienced guide who will drive his deluxe, air-conditioned minivan or sedan at your own pace with the company of your own family and friends. We have 4-seaters, 7-seaters and 10-seaters. We at Kenes Christian Tours will help you design and customize your private tour. Contact Kenes Christian Tours to reserve your private driver-guide touring.

Taxis

Local and intercity taxi service is available to and from any point in the country. Fares within the cities are charged according to the meter. The fares for intercity taxi service are standard fares that are set by the Ministry of Transportation. It is recommended to verify what the fare will be before boarding the taxi.
Taxis can be ordered by telephone from a local taxi station, or stopped by waving your hand at one on the street.
Night rates are 25% more than the normal fare, and begin at 9:01 pm and end at 5:29 am. These rates also apply for Sabbath and holidays. There is an additional charge for telephone orders and an additional charge for each suitcase that is not hand luggage.
Drivers must operate the meter for trips within the city. Please try to avoid agreeing on a price ahead of time if you are not familiar with the rates.

Tipping

It is accepted practice to tip hotel staff, your tour guide and tour bus driver. Kenes Christian Tours chooses tour guides who are extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and flexible. They are well-versed in the Old and New Testament and use the Bible as a guide to the history, geography and current events of the Holy Land. Israeli tour bus drivers are not only careful bus drivers, with your safety always in mind, but always courteous and patient.

Please consult with us at Kenes Christian Tours about the customary tipping schedule.

Umbrella

An umbrella can come in handy during the rainy season which is from the end of October through the month of March. A poncho may be more useful, however, as winter rain is often accompanied by strong winds.

Value Added Tax

There is a 18% value added tax (VAT) on most goods and services in Israel. This is Israel’s equivalent to the U.S. sales tax. Upon making a purchase of $100.00 or more at a gift shop that has an agreement with the VAT authorities, you should fill out a form at the shop and have it stamped there. When you get to the airport, prior to departure, you will be eligible, upon presenting the form and the item, for a refund of 18% minus transaction charges. Do not pack these gift items in your check-through luggage. They should be kept in your hand luggage along with the special VAT form that you receive from the merchant.

Exchange Rates

Exchange Rates vary from day to day. You can change money at your hotel which will give you virtually the same rate you will receive at the bank. There are ATMs in the cities, but not always walking distance from your hotel. You can pay with your credit card for major purposes. Many enterprises accept the U.S. dollar, but often you will receive change in Israeli currency. So it’s important to be aware of the exchange rate and count your change.

Your Bible

Your Bible is your most important guidebook. We suggest that you read it at night to review the day’s passages and bring it on sites during the day; this will transform the scripture, formerly seen in only black and white, into a living history before your eyes.

Zone

Israel time is seven hours ahead of EST and ten hours ahead of PST. When it is 10 a.m. in Los Angeles, it is 8 p.m. in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.  Israel switches to daylight savings time at the end of March which usually lasts until the High Holidays in late September.

PLAN YOUR TRIP WITH KENES CHRISTIAN TOURS