Who is eligible to participate?
Sci-Tech Israel is open to participants who are entering 10th, 11th, and 12th grade, as well as entering college. All of our participants, regardless of their age, are expected to adhere to the same standards, rules, and guidelines. Participants must turn at least 15 during the calendar year of their participation and participants must be entering 10th grade or above.
If I attend Sci-Tech Israel, can I still go on Taglit-Birthright Israel?
As of 2014, NFTY in Israel alumni are eligible to travel on Taglit-Birthright Israel. Taglit-Birthright Israel is a free 10-day trip exclusively for 18-26 year olds. Taglit-Birthright Israel does not provide scholarships for summer programs. The URJ sponsors Birthright trips for 18-26 year olds supervised by the same experienced full-time staff who supervise NFTY in Israel. For more information visit the URJ Kesher website. We encourage anyone interested in both Sci-Tech Israel and Taglit-Birthright Israel to participate in Sci-Tech Israel while still in high school due to the increased depth of the program when combined with a later trip to Israel on the Taglit-Birthright Israel experience.
Is a passport required for participation?
Yes! All participants on Sci-Tech Israel will need a passport that is valid for 6 months after the conclusion of the program.
What is the typical group size?
Sci-Tech Israel will have approximately 20-30 participants. Our group size is large enough to build a strong community, yet intimate enough to give each individual the chance to have a meaningful service and learning experience.
What is the staff supervision like?
URJ Israel programs strive for the highest standard of staff supervision. Our group leaders and tour guide educators are generally older and have more Jewish and life experience than in most other programs. Our staff to participant ratio is 1:10, and there are a minimum of four staff members assigned to be with the group. Additionally, our participants will be accompanied at all times by an Israeli security guard, as prescribed by the Jewish Agency’s security office.
Each person selected to serve as a staff member has extensive experience working with teens, knowledge of Israel, and often is a graduate of NFTY and/or our URJ camping system. Each staff team is comprised of both men and women, and both North Americans and Israelis. All staff members participate in a thorough staff training orientation covering issues of education, health, safety, security, community building and adolescent issues. Our Tour Guide/Educators are required to participate in a 6-month training course in Israel designed exclusively by and for Union for Reform Judaism teen program staff.
Our group will be supervised by the Senior Directors of NFTY in Israel. Learn more about staff supervision.
How do you provide medical care?
Participants on our Israel programs are provided with medical insurance that covers everything except pre-existing conditions. The URJ strives to provide the highest standard of medical care available. In the event that a participant needs medical care, we ensure they see English speaking doctors, and are accompanied 24-7 by a staff member.
What is the procedure for dispensing prescription medication?
Participants are responsible for holding onto and dispensing their own medications throughout the duration of the program. If participants are ready to travel thousands of miles away from home, we believe they are also ready to be responsible for their medications.
Are the programs safe?
The URJ/NFTY are exceedingly cautious and conservative. The group has a cell phone and is in daily contact with the NFTY in Israel office. Itineraries are reviewed each day to ensure that all groups are traveling on the safest and most appropriate routes, and changes can be made at a moment’s notice.
Our full-time education and logistics professionals in Israel consult daily with the Security Department of the Jewish Agency for Israel, who are in constant contact with the government, police, and military authorities. Contingency plans are in place, and will be implemented as necessary, to move groups to safety and/or bring them home as appropriate.
They are accompanied at all times by an Israeli security guard as prescribed by the Jewish Agency’s security office, and never travel on public transportation – only on private, chartered buses.
Who can parents reach during the summer?
NFTY in Israel’s Directors in Israel and New York are available 24 hours a day. Additionally, the group in Israel has a cell phone for immediate contact by our NY or Israel office if need be.
Are cell phones permitted on the program? Is it possible to rent an Israeli cell phone?
We work with an Israeli company called Israel Phones to provide cell phone rentals to participants on our programs. You will have the option of renting a cell phone or just a SIM card for use in an unlocked phone you provide. Cell phone rental costs are not included in the program fee, and participants are responsible for paying for whichever service they choose. The staff cell phones are for emergencies only, and not for regular use. Approximately 80% of families on our programs rent a cell phone for their teens, but it is not essential.
What are the meals and accommodations like?
Our accommodations are safe, clean, and appropriate for teens. They stay in kibbutz guesthouses (hotels located on kibbutzim), youth centers, hotels and camping sites throughout Israel. There are usually three to four participants who identify as the same gender per room with a private bath, and most places are air-conditioned.
Participants are provided with three complete meals a day, and a vegetarian option is always available. Virtually every accommodation during the summer in Israel is Kosher, and meals will be Kosher style (no meat and dairy served together).
How does the group travel to, and within, Israel?
- Domestic Flights– USA/Canada – Participants are responsible for their own domestic arrangements to and from the program’s departure city, typically on the East Coast of the United States (Boston, New York, or Philadelphia). The cost of domestic travel is not included in the program fee.
- Arrival at Domestic Airport– Transfer to International Departure Terminal – Participants who fly to the domestic airport are given explicit instructions how to transfer from their domestic arriving terminal to the departure terminal for their international flight.
- International Flights– NFTY organizes the group’s international travel to Israel, and the cost of that flight is included in the program fee. All participants fly on major airlines that comply with the standard safety and security measures in Europe, Israel, and the United States.
- Ground Transportation –All programs use air-conditioned privately chartered buses. NFTY does not use public transportation.
What is NOT included in the program tuition?
Spending money for gifts, extra snacks, and miscellaneous items must be provided by each participant on the program and is not included in the program fee. We find that $100-$150 per week is the average amount spent by participants. If you are planning to purchase many gifts, you may need more. Our teens mainly spend their money on snacks and souvenirs.
What are the options to exchange currency in Israel?
The best way to hold on to and keep money in Israel is using a debit card or ATM card. You may use your own card from your own bank or preferred pre-paid debit card service.
Where are valuables stored during the program?
Passports and airplane tickets are held for safekeeping by group leaders. Our participants are responsible for all other valuables. We do not accept responsibility for anything that is lost or stolen during the program.