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Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar


Spend a week walking among the history and culture of Polish Jewry in Warsaw, Krakow, and Lublin, and engage in moving visits to the concentration camps of Sobibor, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Treblinka. Then, with a new appreciation of Jewish history, spend the next four weeks discovering and exploring modern day Israel.

Highlights Include

The Warsaw Ghetto. Lodz Jewish Cemetery. Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Masada. The Biblical Zoo. Ein Gedi. Riding camels in the Negev Desert. Kibbutz Ketura. Swimming in the Kinneret


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].

  • Not offered for summer 2018
  • $ 9,290
    • 35 DAYS
    • Grades 10-12*
    • *Current grade as of 2017-2018 school year


Sample Itinerary

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

Day 1New YorkDepart from New York airport
Day 2WarsawVisit Warsaw Jewish cemetery and Nozick Synagogue
Day 3Warsaw & LublinVisit the Warsaw Ghetto, Polin Museum, and Majdanek Concentration Camp
Day 4KrakowTour synagogues at Kazimsh; Visit Krakow Ghetto and Market Square
Day 5KrakowVisit Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp; Prepare for Shabbat
Day 6KrakowCelebrate Shabbat
Day 7Lodz & WarsawTour sites in Lodz; Visit Unshlagplatz deportation holding area and Wolfe Reichert Synagogue
Day 8Tykochin, Lupochova Forest & Treblinka Visit historic Jewish community in Tykochin and Lupochova Forest memorial site; Tour Treblinka Concentration Camp
Day 9JerusalemTour neighborhood of Agron
Day 10JerusalemExplore Jerusalem from the Second Temple period; Visit the Israel Museum; Tour the Herodian Mansions; Explore the Southern part of the Western Wall (Kotel)
Day 11JerusalemTake part in archaeological dig; Spelunk in ancient Tel Maresha tunnels; Swim at Kibbutz Beit Guvrin
Day 12JerusalemExplore Jerusalem from the First Temple period; Visit The City of David; Tour Hezekiah's Tunnel; Prepare for Shabbat
Day 13JerusalemCelebrate Shabbat
Day 14Jerusalem & Negev DesertVolunteer at Yad Lekashish (Lifeline for the Old); Plant trees in the Jerusalem mountains; Engage in an outdoor desert experience and participate in navigation and survival exercises
Day 15Negev DesertContinue outdoor desert experience; Visit an alpaca farm
Day 16Eilat Tour 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 17Eilat & JerusalemVisit David Ben Gurion's hut & grave site
Day 18Jerusalem & Ben Shemen ForestVisit Ammunition Hill; Compete in the USY HaEvent games
Day 19Free WeekendTeens leave for free weekend
Day 20Free WeekendCelebrate Shabbat
Day 21Tel AvivVisit Independence Hall and Rabin Square; Tour Jaffa
Day 22Tel Aviv & Kfar HanokdimLearn about Israel's start-up business culture; Visit the Olympic Museum; Take a camel ride; Participate in a environmental workshop; Experience life in a Bedouin tent
Day 23Massada/ Ein GediHike Massada at sunrise; Hike Ein Gedi and Nachal David; Swim in the Dead Sea
Day 24Carmel & HaifaExperience Druze Hospitality; Visit the Haifa Overlook and Bahai Gardens
Day 25Acco & Western GalileeTour city of Acco; Visit Rosh Hanikrah: Ride in cable cars & tour grottos; Visit Keshet Cave
Day 26Tzfat & Camp NOAMTour the city of Tzfat; Spend the weekend with Masorti Jewish teens at Camp NOAM
Day 27Camp NOAMCelebrate Shabbat at Camp NOAM
Day 28Lower GalileeHike Mount Arbel; Swim at Blue Beach; Take a donkey ride at Kfar Kedem; Visit the Kinneret cemetery
Day 29Golan HeightsHike Majraseh Nature Reserve; Visit Mitzpe Gadot, former Syrian bunker; See the views from Mount Bental
Day 30Upper GalileeVisit the Metulla overlook; Hike Nachal Snir; Kayak in the Jordan River; Visit Kibbutz Neot Mordechai; Explore Tiberias
Day 31JerusalemVisit Yad Vashem and Har Herzl
Day 32JerusalemTake part in volunteer projects with Mitzvah Man Danny Siegel; Celebrate summer's end with final banquet
Day 33Ashdod & JerusalemRelax on the beach; Prepare for Shabbat
Day 34JerusalemCelebrate Shabbat
Day 35New YorkDepart for New York
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