Below is some Israel Info & FAQ: Israel Dress & Clothing, Israel Currency, Telephone Communication, Israel Voltage, Electricity & Appliances, Israel Food & Water, Kosher, Israel Geography, Getting Around, Heath & Medical, Holidays & Business Hours, Israel Language, Laundry, Israel Nature, Newspapers, Packing & Luggage, Israel Population & Religion, Safety & Security, Israel VAT, Visas, and Weather in Israel:

Clothing & Dress
Israel is very informal – comfortable and casual everywhere. Don’t forget swimsuits for the Dead Sea, Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Sea of Galilee! At the Holy places need long pants, skirts, and shoulders covered (no sleeveless). Hat & sunglasses for the intense sun, esp. in the summer.

Israel Currency
The name of local Israel currency is the Shekel (name used in Bible times as well), abbreviated N.I.S. (New Israeli Shekel) U.S.A. cash dollars  are the easiest to change ($20, $50, $100 new bills preferred) and widely accepted, as well as credit cards (bring multiple cards). ATM machines are widespread but don’t forget to bring your PIN number. Euros are less used.

Electricity & Appliances
Israel electricity is 220V and outlets are 2-3 prong so bring a universal adapter or purchase locally (readily available). Hair dryer- bring one that switches to 220 V or buy one locally- not expensive. Many of the hotels have hair dryers available in the rooms- inquire.

Food, water, kosher
With people from over 100 countries the variety of food is endless. Lots of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables – straight from local farms. Most hotel dining rooms are strictly kosher and lots kosher eateries and restaurants everywhere.  Tap water is drinkable though many prefer bottled spring water.

Sandwiched between three continents- Europe, Asia, and Africa, Israel geography is truly unique!  Size: Israel is actually quite small, approx. 280 (460 km) long X 80 miles (130 km).  Neighboring countries:  Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Terrain: Approximately 2/3 of Israel is desert, and is concentrated primarily in the south of the country (Negev Highlands). In the north are the mountains of Galilee (300-1100 meters). The highest mountain is snow-peaked Mt. Hermon (2800 meters) which straddles the Israel, Lebanon, Syrian borders. The center of the country is composed of 3 major geographic areas, running north to south: The coastal plain along the Mediterranean Sea, the central hill chain (mountains of Judea and Samaria or West Bank), and the Jordan Rift Valley- the Dead Sea being the lowest spot on Earth (-400 meters below sea level). Natural resources: Copper, phosphates, bromide, potash, manganese. Fresh water sources: Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, and  desalination. Bodies of water: Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Galilee (freshwater), Dead Sea, and Red Sea in the south.

Getting around 
There is almost no place that can’t be reached by public transport, if you have the time. Light rail: Jerusalem has a new light rail that runs along Jaffa Road (main street). Taxis: Have an official illuminated taxi sign with a number on the roof. Price is officially by the meter, both in and outside the city. Still, it is often a good idea to set the price before getting in the taxi. Tariff #1 is 5:30 a.m.-8:59 p.m. and Tariff #2 is from 9:00 p.m.-5:29 a.m. Tipping is discretionary- usually 10-15%. Besides flagging down a taxi in the street, one can also call a local cab company and they’ll pick you up at the requested time and place (extra fee). Trains: The most popular commuter lines are Tel Aviv-Haifa, and Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion airport. The main Tel Aviv train station is on Arlosoroff St.

Health, Medical, Emergency
Very high standard – comparable to the U.S.A. Comprehensive travel medical  insurance is very highly recommended!  Hotels keep lists of doctors and dentists should need medical attention. For hospital services you’ll need to pay (cash or credit card) and then seek reimbursement from your insurance company. Pharmacies:  Widespread but note that antibiotics can only be prescribed by a physician. Yad Sarah (nationwide) rents medical equipment – everything from wheelchairs and crutches to more sophisticated medical support equipment.

Holidays & Business Hours 
Israel is for the most part still on a six day work week, Sun – Fri.  Fridays and the eve of Jewish holidays are half-days. Many cafes, restaurants, entertainment, museums are open Saturdays as well.  Banks: Sun – Fri, morning hours best, afternoons- only few times a week.  Week of Passover and Sukkot (Tabernacles) is peak hotel season.  On Yom Kippur everything is closed.

Two official languages in Israel – Hebrew (spoken by all) & Arabic. English is the #1 foreign language – easy to get around with + some French and Spanish.

Laundromats are widespread and most of them wash, dry, and fold the clothes for you. Rates are very reasonable. Self-service laundromats are less common.

Israel nature is unique. As a land bridge between continents covering a wide variety of climate zones (alpine to desert), Israel’s plants and animals of Israel are tremendously varied. Today one can frequently sight foxes, wolves, hyenas, jackals, caracalls, gazelles, deer, ibex, rock hyrax, tortoises, weasels, ostriches, as well as smaller reptiles and mammals. There is even an animal reserve repopulating Israel with the animals of biblical times. While extinct today, there were even lions and bears roaming Israel in Bible times.

Two big English language newspapers: Jerusalem Post and Haaretz (translated from Hebrew). The weekend edition comes out on Friday morning.

Packing & Luggage
Pack light- medium-size suitcases are best, the large rigid ones are difficult to pack and transport. Everything can be found locally if missing something. A day pack is very useful.

Population & Religion
The population of Israel is about 7 million people of which approx. 75% are Jewish, 15% are Moslem, 7% are Christian denominations, and 3% are others (Druse, etc.) In Israel religion and state are not totally separated: Marriage and divorce are only through the religious courts of one’s religious community, the state supports religious schools, etc.

Safety & Security
Tourists are always surprised by how safe Israel’s streets are- very little violent crime. Local people, from all walks of life are typically friendly and helpful.

Telephone calls
There are area codes when dialing land lines between regions: Tel Aviv is 03, Jerusalem 02, Haifa & Galilee is 04, Netanya & central coast is 09, Eilat & South is 08 If dialing from abroad one drops the 0 of the regional code. For example, when phoning from the USA to Jerusalem: 011 (int’l access) – 972 (Israel’s code) – 2 (land line regional code) + party’s number. When calling a land line from a cell phone one must always dial the area regional area code.

V.A.T (Value Added Tax)
There is 18% Value Added Tax on most goods and services in Israel. At retail stores, this tax is always already included in the price. Some shops have a government arrangement for V.A.T refund for tourists. The V.A.T is refunded at the airport upon departure and presentation of your purchase. Tourist services, such as hotel accommodations and meals taken in hotels, are exempt from V.A.T. tax when paid in U.S. dollars / Euros (need to present passport).

Visitors on a tourist visa are allowed to remain in Israel for up to three months from the date of arrival. Visitors who intend to work in Israel must apply to the Ministry of the Interior for a special visa (B/1).

Israel has good touring weather all year around with generally mild dry climate and a weather pattern little changed little since Bible times: Dry season from Passover (April) to Sukkot (October) and rainy season from Fall through Spring, though may not rain for days and weeks, and when it does, rarely lasts. Summer months of July and August are the hot and dry with frequent heat waves. Fall is warm and dry. Winter is warm to cold with scattered showers and rare snow.  Cold nights  in mountains (Jerusalem). Spring warm and rarely rains, wild flowers everywhere. South (desert) of Israel (Dead Sea, Negev, Eilat):  Warm to hot year around depending on season, rare rain.

Need further Israel info?
Planning trip to Israel? Need more Israel info or have a question about visiting Israel? Please contact Zack Shavin, veteran guide & biblical archaeologist at Land of Israel Tours.

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