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Eastern Europe/Israel Pilgrimage

Overview

Discover Eastern Europe, from the towering spires of Prague to the bustling creativity of Berlin to the quiet, rolling countryside of Poland. Gain a deeper understanding of Jewish history in each country (which includes visits to concentration camps), before embarking on a four-week tour of Israel. (For more information see USY Israel Adventure).

Highlights Include

The Brandenberg Gate. Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Treblinka Concentration Camp. Lodz Jewish Cemetery. Masada. Snorkeling in the Red Sea. Donkey riding at Kfar Kedem. Swimming in the Kinneret.

FAQ

What is USY Israel Pilgrimage?

For over 60 years USY has taken hundreds of teens to Israel and beyond, connecting them to the Jewish homeland. By experiencing Israel’s beauty and power alongside their peers, taking part in a variety of fun adventurous outdoor activities, and engaging in interesting educational discussions, teens will gain a new appreciation, understanding, and love for the Jewish homeland.

In addition to the basic Israel trip USY offers varying programs including authentic Israeli experiences and social-action focused trips, on which teens can meet and personally touch the lives of Israeli citizens, experiencing the country in a very unique and meaningful way.

We also offer combination trips, where teens can visit part of Europe and explore other significant sights of Jewish history before traveling to Israel. Destinations in Europe include Italy, Poland, Prague, and Germany.

What are the age requirements for this program?

USY Israel Pilgrimage programs are open to teens currently in grades 10-12.

What is the typical group size?

Each group is co-ed and will include 20-45 teens.

How is the program staffed?

Groups are led by five to seven staff members including a group leader, North American counselors, an Israeli counselor, and an Israeli medic. All staff members are qualified advisors, youth directors, teachers, and Conservative rabbis.

Additional support staff in Israel includes various knowledgeable lecturers, tour guides, and other USY personnel. All USY Summer Experience staff participates in an intensive training seminar prior to the trip.

How do teens travel on Israel Pilgrimage?

Teens travel on a fully equipped motor coach, driven by professionals. Whenever possible, we maintain the same drivers throughout the summer.

How do you approach security?

The safety and well-being of our teens has always been, and continues to be, our highest priority. Matters of security always take precedence over all other concerns.

Throughout the summer, trip itineraries are adapted as the situation dictates, in a manner to assure the safety of all participants. Changes to the trip may include travels routes, accommodations, and escalation of USY security protocols. We always scrupulously avoid “unsafe” destinations and venues. Our safety record is impeccable as we have decades of experience operating programs under all circumstances. For more information on our security protocols, please see the security Q&A.

What is the food like?

While traveling, teens will have the opportunity to taste the flavors of Israel. Three full, kosher meals and numerous snacks are provided each day. Food is provided by various caterers, hotels, and restaurants throughout Israel. Additionally, in some cities participants will be able to go out on their own for meals at select (delicious!) kosher restaurants.

Where do teens stay while traveling?

Teens stay in hotels and youth hostels, dormitory-style bases, field schools and kibbutz guesthouses. Additionally, two weeks of the trip are spent in Jerusalem, duration which time it’s our hope that the city will feel like a second home for participants.

Is there a community service component to your trips and what does it include?

During the course of the summer, teens will participate in 6 hours volunteer work with “Pioneer Of Tzedakah” Danny Siegel. Past projects include serving meals at soup kitchens, picking vegetables with Leket Yisrael for the hungry, and working with children with disabilities.

For teens who prefer more intensive service-focused travel, we offer L’Takayn Olam, which offers 35+ hours of volunteer work and the chance to experience Israel in a truly one-of-a-kind way— by meeting and helping Israel’s people through hands-on service and social action projects. Past projects include:

  • Volunteering at the RAMBAM Medical Center Children’s Hospital
  • Helping with various animal-related projects at the Haifa Zoo
  • Picking weeds, fruits & vegetables on a farm with Chava Shel Beit Zayit

What does the cost of this program include?

The cost of USY Israel Pilgrimage includes round trip flights from New York to Israel, room and board, an approved Israeli medical plan, sightseeing tours with professional guides, gratuities and admission fees. (Personal expenses and extra personal baggage are additional.)

Are there scholarships available?

Scholarships are available through USY regions, local congregations and their affiliated groups. For further information contact your synagogue, regional USY directory, or visit our scholarship database and Ways to Save page.

Who do I contact with additional questions?

If you have any questions about this or other USY summer programs, e-mail us at [email protected].

Questions?

  • First departure: June 20-July 29, 2018
  • $ 9,980
    • 40 DAYS
    • Grades 10-12*
    • *Current grade as of 2017-2018 school year
  • Register Here
  • Second departure: June 25-August 2, 2018
  • $ 9.430
    • 40 DAYS
    • 2nd Departure does not go to Berlin
    • Grades 10-12
    • *Current grade as of 2017-2018 school year
  • Register Here

Sample Itinerary

**Based on 2016 itinerary. All schedules and activities are subject to change.

TRIP DAYLOCATION ACTIVITIES
Day 1New YorkDepart from New York airport
Day 2Prague, Czech RepublicExplore the city and settle in to the hotel
Day 3Prague, Czech RepublicVisit the Jewish Quarter of the city, including the city's Jewish Museum; Tour the city's famous sites including the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, and John Lennon Wall; Prepare for Shabbat
Day 4Prague, Czech RepublicCelebrate Shabbat; Walk through the Old City
Day 5Berlin, Germany*Visit Terezin
Day 6Berlin, Germany*Tour the city's famous sites including the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and the Holocaust Memorial
Day 7Berlin, Germany*Visit the Jewish Museum, Oranienburgerstr New Synagogue, and Book Burning Memorial
Day 8Warsaw, PolandVisit the Warsaw Ghetto and Nozyk Synagogue
Day 9Warsaw & Lublin, PolandVisit Warsaw's Jewish sites including Gensia Cemetery and Umshlagplatz deportation holding area; Visit Majdanek Concentration Camp
Day 10Krakow, PolandExplore Jewish Krakow on a walking tour; Visit several area synagogues and the Krakow Ghetto; Prepare for Shabbat
Day 11Krakow, PolandCelebrate Shabbat at a local synagogue; Attend the Krakow Jewish music festival in the evening
Day 12Warsaw, PolandVisit Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp
Day 13Warsaw, PolandVisit the Lupchova Forest memorial site; Visit Treblinka Extermination Camp; Board the flight to Israel
Day 14JerusalemTour neighborhood of Agron
Day 15JerusalemTake part in archaeological dig; Spelunk in ancient Tel Maresha tunnels; Swim at Kibbutz Beit Guvrin
Day 16JerusalemExplore Jerusalem from the Second Temple period; Visit the Israel Museum; Tour the Herodian Mansions; Visit the Kotel
Day 17JerusalemExplore Jerusalem from the First Temple period; Visit The City of David; Tour Hezekiah's Tunnel; Prepare for Shabbat
Day 18JerusalemCelebrate Shabbat
Day 19NegevVisit David Ben Gurion's hut and grave site; Participate in eco workshop; Take a came ride in the desert
Day 20Massada/Ein GediHike Massada at sunrise; Hike Ein Gedi and Nachal David; Swim in the Dead Sea
Day 21EilatTour Coral World Underwater Observatory; Swim and go snorkeling in the Red Sea Coral Reef; Dance and tour Eilat at night on a disco boat
Day 22Ketura & Negev DesertTour and take a swim at Kibbutz Ketura; Engage in an outdoor desert experience, rappel down a cliff face, and participate in navigation and survival exercises
Day 23Negev Desert & Ben Shemen ForestContinue outdoor desert experience; Compete in the USY HaEvent games
Day 24Free WeekendTeens leave for free weekend
Day 25Free WeekendCelebrate Shabbat
Day 26JerusalemVisit Ramat Rachel, the Knesset, Ammunition Hill, and Har Herzl
Day 27JerusalemTake part in volunteer projects with Mitzvah Man Danny Siegel
Day 28HaifaExperience Druze Hospitality; Visit the Haifa Overlook and Bahai Gardens
Day 29Acco & Western GalileeTour city of Acco; Visit Rosh Hanikrah: Ride in cable cars & tour grottos; Visit Keshet Cave
Day 30Lower GalileeHike Mount Arbel; Swim at Blue Beach; Take a donkey ride at Kfar Kedem; Visit the Kinneret cemetery
Day 31Tzfat & Camp NOAMTour the city of Tzfat; Spend the weekend with Masorti Jewish teens at Camp NOAM
Day 32Camp NOAMCelebrate Shabbat at Camp NOAM
Day 33Upper GalileeVisit the Metulla overlook; Hike Nachal Snir; Kayak in the Jordan River; Visit Kibbutz Neot Mordechai; Explore Tiberias
Day 34Golan HeightsHike Majraseh Nature Reserve; Visit Mitzpe Gadot, former Syrian bunker; See the views from Mount Bental
Day 35Tel AvivVisit Rabin Square; Learn about Israel's start-up business culture; Visit the Olympic Museum
Day 36Tel Aviv & JerusalemVisit Independence Hall; Experience the moving Dialogue in the Dark exhibit led by blind guides at the Israeli Children's Museum
Day 37JerusalemVisit Yad Vashem; Plant trees outside of the city; Celebrate summer's end with final banquet
Day 38JerusalemShop on Ben Yehudah Street and in Jerusalem's famous shuk (market); Prepare for Shabbat
Day 39JerusalemCelebrate Shabbat
Day 40New YorkDepart for New York
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