Israel 101

Israeli flag and palm trees
 
To help you prepare for your journey, use the Israel 101: A Guide for Masa Israel Participants filled with information about local resources to familiarize yourself with Israel, the land, and its people.
 

Fast Facts

 
Language
Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel. English is widely spoken and understood; in major cities most street and business signs are in English, as well as in Hebrew or Arabic. Highway signs are generally trilingual: Hebrew, English, and Arabic.
 
Electricity
The electric current used in Israel is 220 volts AC (50 cycles). If you bring an electronic product of 110 volts or other voltage, you must use a proper transformer to convert the current. You can buy 220 volt equipment in Israel in special shops. Sockets are designed to accept plugs with either two or three round prongs. If your appliance doesn't have the right plug, you can buy a plug adapter in Israel quite easily.
 
Embassies & Consulates: 
  • The American Embassy in Tel Aviv is at 71 Ha-Yarkon St. (tel. 03/519-7575). The American Consulate-General in Jerusalem is at 14 David Flusser St. (tel. 02/630-4000). 
  • The Australian Embassy in Tel Aviv is at 37 Shaul Ha-Melekh St. (tel. 03/695-0451).
  • The New Zealand Embassy in Tel Aviv is at 3 Daniel Frish St. (tel. 03/695-6622).
  • The British Embassy in Tel Aviv is at 192 Ha-Yarkon St. (tel. 03/725-1222). The British Consulate-General in East Jerusalem is in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood at 19 Nashashibi St. (tel. 02/671-7724 or 02/541-4100).
  • The Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv is at 3 Nirim St. (tel. 03/636-3300).
  • The South African Embassy in Ramat Gan is at 12a Abba Hillel Silver St. (tel. 03/525 2566)
  • For a list of other countries' embassies and consulates, visit the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
 
Drinking Laws
The legal age for the purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages is 18. Proof of age is required at bars, clubs, and restaurants, so it's always a good idea to bring ID when you go out. Beer is available in most Israeli grocery stores and bodegas. There are no mandatory closing times for bars or clubs in Israel. 
 

Getting Around

 
By Train
Tel Aviv is the rail hub of Israel. A rail line along the Mediterranean coast connects Tel Aviv to Haifa and Nahariya in the north. A second line connects Tel Aviv to Ben-Gurion Airport. A third goes from Tel Aviv to Beersheva. A fourth line goes from Tel Aviv to the western outskirts of Jerusalem. Service along the coast is fast and frequent. The Beersheva and Jerusalem lines are slow and less frequent. There is service at least every hour from Ben-Gurion Airport to Tel Aviv from around 5:45am to around 11pm. Visit Israel Railways for current schedules, routes, and prices. Trains do not run on Shabbat.
 
By Bus
Inter-city buses are the fastest and easiest way to travel between major cities. Buses between Jerusalem, Haifa, and Tel Aviv depart frequently. Visit Otobusim for information about all of Israel’s bus companies (including Egged and Dan, its largest) and to plan a trip within your city or around the country.
 
By Sherut
A sherut (shared taxi van) is a good way to travel between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and between Ben-Gurion Airport and any major city. Sheruts leave as fast as they fill up. Sherut fares are a fraction less than bus fares.
 

Israel’s Regions in Brief

 
Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, is where East meets West and modern meets ancient. The city has many populations, including Jewish and Arab; religious and nonreligious. The Old City of Jerusalem, a World Heritage Site, contains the great holy places of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Highlights of modern Jerusalem include the Israel Museum, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
 
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is at the center of Israel’s largest metropolitan area and cultural center. Full of energy, it has great cafes, hot bars and clubs, perfect beaches, and three inventive museums: the Diaspora Museum, the Eretz Israel Museum, and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
 
The Dead Sea Area
The Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, makes for a weekend trip into the Negev and Judean deserts. Float in the salty water and coat yourself with the mineral-heavy mud. The Fortress of Masada, the most dramatic archaeological site in the country, is perched on a plateau above the Dead Sea. It was here that the last Jewish resisters against Rome committed suicide rather than surrender. Visit the Ein Gedi oasis for beautiful hiking and desert animals.
 
The Negev 
The southern part of Israel (nearly two-thirds of the country) is desert and semidesert; it contains beautiful nature reserves, and is great for hiking and nature tours. Long famous for its coral reef and laid-back snorkeling and diving, the resort town of Eilat, at the southern tip of the Negev, is a world unto itself. 
 
Haifa 
Israel's third major city, Haifa is quite different from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. It is a business and industrial city, but it's so beautifully laid out on a stepped mountain overlooking the harbor that it's quite memorable. Haifa makes a great urban base for exploring the northwestern part of the country.
 
The Galilee 
Israel's northern region is lovely countryside, with forested mountains and olive groves dotted with Arab cities and towns, kibbutzim, and the remains of ancient cities, synagogues, and churches. At the heart of the Galilee is the Kinneret (Sea of Galillee). The Galilee offers great hiking and nature trails.
 

Cultural Resources

 
Use this site to find basic, comprehensive and helpful information about the Jewish festivals and holidays. Jewish holiday calendars for upcoming years are also provided.
 
Israel is located at the crossroad of three continents – Asia, Africa, and Europe – and is rich and diverse in natural and cultural attractions. This site provides valuable information about sustainable tourism in Israel.
 
Established by the Israel Ministry of Tourism, this site provides comprehensive information covering everything you need to know about visiting Israel. It includes maps of Israel, suggested itineraries for seeing the country, arts and business, healthcare and more.
 
Habama (Hebrew)
Established in 2000, Habama is the local guide to cultural events around the country, the only one that covers all aspects of performing arts: theater, dance, music, classical music, opera, cinema, children's concerts, shows and various entertainment and cultural events.
 
This site provides information about Israel’s parks and nature reserves, world heritage sites, and more.
 
Morfix Dictionary is an online Hebrew-English and English-Hebrew dictionary, providing exact translations for tens of thousands of words and phrases, and incorporating morphological analyses in both languages. 
 
Telalivit
Telalivit is a localised online social network and information hub to connect you to events and projects in Tel Aviv.
 
Digital guide to events and outings in Israel
 

Israeli News Sources

 
 

 

 
 

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