Is Birthright Israel:Amazing Israel affiliated with any religious or political movement?

The simple answer: NO! Amazing Israel is a pluralistic and is non-denominational program and are not affiliated with any religious OR political movement. We aim to create a welcoming and open environment for all of our participants regardless of their background or previous Jewish experience. All of the food that we provide is kosher and we do not use the bus on Shabbat. When it comes time to discussing big issues we always maintain an open and balanced environment.  We want you to discuss, debate, learn, experience and ask questions and feel completely comfortable doing so!

What is the Birthright Israel: Amazing Israel Program?

Thanks to Birthright Israel, if you are Jewish and between the ages of 18 to 26 and you have never been on a peer educational Israel Experience program, this is your opportunity to receive a free trip to Israel. Birthright Israel is a unique, historical partnership between the people of Israel through their government, local Jewish Federations and communities (through the United Jewish Communities, Keren Hayesod and The Jewish Agency for Israel), and leading Jewish philanthropists. The Amazing Israel program is, well…Amazing! We make sure that you see all the sites, experience Israel, spend time travelling with Israelis, and more.

This trip is a gift from Birthright Israel? Who are they?

Birthright Israel is an innovative partnership between the people of Israel through the Government of Israel, private philanthropists through the Birthright Israel Foundation and Jewish communities around the world (North American Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod, and The Jewish Agency for Israel).

If the trip is free, What is the $250 US deposit for, How is it paid, and How do I get it back?

During the application process the deposit acts as one of a few measures designed to reflect that an applicant is serious about the prospect of participating in the program. Once an applicant is accepted to the program, it acts as a guarantee that he/she will not withdraw from the program, thereby forfeiting their spot and preventing another person from benefiting from the opportunity to go to Israel for free. Moreover, should a participant withdraw less than approximately 65 days prior to departure (as registration opens you will be notified as to the exact dates), it provides us with revenue to pay the penalties that are incurred from the airlines for last minute cancellations. In Israel, it also serves as a guarantee that each individual will participate in all aspects of the program. Deposits are paid during the registration process as a way to complete your application and an application is not considered complete until the deposit is paid for. Contained within the Birthright Israel application are further instructions explaining how to pay your deposit. Within 30 days after you successfully participate on a trip, your deposit will returned to your original method of payment. You will be notified by email when your deposit is loaded on the card. That email may also contain information about how you can voluntarily donate all or part of your deposit in support of future Birthright Israel trips. (Note: If you are not assigned a flight group, your deposit will be returned through the original method of payment). If you are placed on a waitlist please know that you can ask for your deposit back at anytime. Please send an email to registration@amazingisrael.com with the subject DEPOSIT.

Who is Eligible for this free trip?

The Birthright Israel gift is open to all Jewish* young adults, ages 18 to 26 who have not participated on a peer educational trip since they turned 18 nor lived in Israel past the age of 12.

*Eligible individuals are those who identify as Jewish and are recognized as such by their local community or by one of the recognized denominations of Judaism. Applicants must also have at least one Jewish birth parent, or have completed Jewish conversion through a recognized Jewish denomination.

If I apply, am I automatically accepted into the program?

Before you can be accepted to the program you must complete the following steps:

  • Complete and confirm the online application
  • Pay your deposit
  • Complete an interview
  • Submit the required paperwork

After you have finished all of these steps, an Amazing Israel representative will contact you via email letting you know about your application status and whether you have been accepted to a trip. With such a large demand for the Birthright Israel: Amazing Israel program, we try to accommodate applicants who register early, and who meet all the other eligibility criteria. We also reserve the right to use discretion during the allocation process. For example, an individual who is very close to the upper age limit (25-26 years of age) may be given priority over younger applicants who will have other opportunities to take advantage of this gift. We want to get you here!

This gift sounds too good to be true, what’s the catch?

There is no catch, there are no strings attached. Participants are only responsible for a $250 (US) deposit, fully refundable upon their return home after successfully completing the program. Participants are under no obligation to Birthright Israel, which finances the trip, or their Trip Organizer, who implements the trip, for any future activities or financial obligations. Of course, should participants decide to become more involved in the Jewish community, go back to Israel or explore other aspects of Jewish life, we encourage them to regularly check out the rest of the website for resources that may fit their needs.

Are there any hidden costs on this program?

No, there are no hidden costs on the program. The only expenses that will be incurred by the program participants are supplementary medical insurance (this is mandatory for all participants who have a confirmed departure date), the cost of the travel to the departing airport and spending money. The only other cost that we will ask you to cover (aside from souvenirs) will be the cost of one meal per day. While this meal will most often be lunch, you may be asked to purchase dinner on some days. We recommend that participants bring $300-$500. This way you will have enough money for meals and souvenirs/shopping. Also know that when you arrive in Israel we will have a money changer there for you so that you can exchange US Dollars into New Israeli Shekels (Israel’s currency). Participants are encouraged to offer a gratuity to their Israeli tour guide and bus driver. A gratuity is a standard measure in the Israeli tourism industry that is not a covered expense of the program.

Why would a total stranger want to finance my trip to Israel?

We’re not strangers. Birthright Israel is a planned partnership of philanthropists, Jewish communities through their local Jewish Federation and the Government of Israel. We believe in the importance of promoting Jewish peoplehood and Jewish renaissance, and we are committed to providing access to a first peer-group program in Israel as a birthright of every Jew. This initiative is a gift from one generation to the next. The trip is a gift from Birthright Israel.

What if I don’t have a passport? What if I have Israeli Citizenship?

All program participants must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the return date of their trip.  As part of the application process, participants are required to provide a valid passport number as well as expiration date and country of issue. US Citizens that do not have a passport can click here to begin the process of obtaining one as it can be a lengthy process.

If a participant passport has been issued from countries other than Canada, the United States, Great Britain or Israel, please contact Amazing Israel for details regarding obtaining a visa to Israel. It is the participant’s responsibility to obtain a VISA, if needed, for Israel. For participant’s that hold Israeli citizenship (either by birth or via a parent with Israeli citizenship) it is very important to contact the Israeli Embassy/Consulate to obtain documents that are essential for travel to and from Israel. Please note: if a participant does not hold a valid passport prior to departure and provide us with a copy of the photo page, the participant will not be permitted to join the program.

Can I travel with my friends?

In order to travel with a friend, both of you must be Birthright Israel eligible, register for the same trip & submit your applications & deposits on time. You must also be sure to choose the same trips in the trip preferences portion of the secondary application. While we do our best to accommodate friend requests, there is no guarantee. If you have questions about friend requests, please send an email to registration@amazingisrael.com.

Can I talk to a person for more information?

Feel free to contact the Amazing Israel office by phone, 1-800-606-0416 or by email, registration@amazingisrael.com.  Our hours of operation and further contact details are located on our Contact Us page. You can also email us to schedule a time to chat!

How do I switch or cancel my trip?

Once you, the participant, are placed on a trip and have decided that you can no longer travel you must contact the Amazing Israel office immediately! This must be done via email to registration@amazingisrael.com. Both switches and cancellations CANNOT be done over the phone. We will try our best to place you on another departure during the season although you should know that it is not guaranteed.

Can I extend my stay in Israel?

All Birthright Israel participants leaving on US departures have the option of extending their ticket to remain in Israel beyond the program.  Prior to your trip you will be sent details on how to extend your trip.  Each airline has a set fee for extensions and you will be sent this information as well. Please note that for best availability you should make your extension prior to departing for your trip. Also, please be aware that in order for your flight to be officially extended you will need confirmation from the airline. Do not assume anything! If you stay after the group leaves assuming that your flight has been extended and it has not, your return flight will be cancelled and you will have to pay for your own flight back. You can also extend your ticket while in Israel, however, for best availability we advise that you do this prior to the trip. We encourage you to take advantage of being in Israel and to extend your stay after the program ends. We are happy and available to assist you. Our parent company, Routes Travel, can help you with hotels after the trip, extensions to Petra, Jordan and more. Please know that once the Birthright Israel program has concluded, you will no longer be under our supervision or responsibility of Birthright Israel.

What will accommodations and meals be like on the program?

Accommodations on all Birthright Israel: Amazing Israel programs are based on triple occupancy in 3-4 star hotels, youth hostels and kibbutz guest houses. Linen service will be provided by the accommodations however participants are advised to bring towels from home. A minimum of two kosher meals will be provided each day while in Israel. The meals will range from buffet breakfasts, to falafel, to North American style fast-food, to boxed lunches, to sit-down dinners. Provided that a participant specifies that they require vegetarian food in their online application form, a vegetarian option will always be made available. Participants with specific dietary needs and/or allergies must contact Amazing Israel to accommodate specific food allergies. Please be aware that Israel does not have the same level of allergy awareness that is common and standard in North America.

Will this be a “religious” trip?

All Jews, regardless of background, affiliation or practice, are welcome on the program. The program will provide opportunities for participants to celebrate Jewish life together. It is designed to be completely inclusive. No participant will EVER be forced to join in any organized religious activities. At the same time, kosher food will be served at all tour-sponsored activities and all programming will respect the laws of the Jewish Sabbath (no bus used on the Sabbath). We welcome you as you! You don’t have to change who you are (either before, during or after the trip!) Amazing Israel provides a trip that is pluralistic, inclusive and welcoming.

Will I have to commit to anything when I return from my trip?

Birthright Israel is a trip with no strings attached, and there are no obligations or requirements when you return from the trip. However we do hope that this experience will inspire you to get involved in your Jewish community upon your return. The Amazing Israel team is ready and willing to assist you in figuring out how to get involved in your local Jewish community &/or how to come back to Israel. How you choose to involve yourself is entirely up to you, we are just here to provide the resources and opportunities for you to do so.

If you’d like to do so, after your trip you can invite your friends or family members who are eligible for a Birthright Israel trip to come on a future Amazing Israel trip by writing in their contact information here: http://www.amazingisrael.com/alumni/recommend-a-friend/.

Will I have any free time during the trip? Will there be time on the program to visit my friends and relatives in Israel?

Although there will be no free days on this program, there will be certain evenings that are designated as supervised, structured free time. Should free time be granted to the group, the location and time will be at the sole discretion of the Routes Travel: Amazing Israel office. Participants will receive their specific itinerary in the weeks prior to departure. Routes Travel requests that once you have reviewed your itinerary, you notify your family and/or friends in Israel and let them know that they can visit you on your free evenings. All family/friend meetings must first be approved by your trip staff. The itinerary will include the names and addresses of your accommodations in order to facilitate such visits. Please note that your friends/family cannot take you away from the group and you cannot leave to see them. The best thing to do if you want to spend more time with friends or family, is to extend your trip!

Start the registration process here