USY Israel Pilgrimage Overview

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ABOUT USY ISRAEL PILGRIMAGE

The Pilgrimage program currently offers six trips including Israel Adventure, Israel Adventure Plus, L’Takyan Olam; a social-action focused trip, Eastern Europe/Israel Pilgrimage, Israel Pilgrimage/Poland Seminar, and Italy/Israel Pilgrimage.


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Swim in the crystal blue waters of the Kinneret. Explore the subterranean stalactite caves of Netifim. Drink traditional tea under a desert Bedouin tent. Climb at daybreak to the top of Masada. Travel Israel with 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 like Gadna (army training) 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.

Age Requirements & Group Size

USY Israel Pilgrimage is open to teens currently in grades 10-12. Each group is co-ed and will include 40-45 teens.

Transportation

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

Security

The safety and well-being of our participants 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.

Staff

In accordance with our security policy (see above), the supervision on all USY programs is intensive and diligent. Groups are led by five to seven mature, professional 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 rabbis in the Conservative Movement.

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. 

Meals

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.

Accommodations

While traveling abroad, 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.

Community Service

Social action and community service projects are an important component of the USY Israel Pilgrimage program. 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’Takyan 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

Jewish Observance

Through participating in Pilgrimage, teens enrich and develop their Jewish identities. For the length of the program, teens celebrate Shabbat, observe Kashrut (kosher dietary laws), participate in fun and creative approaches to prayer, and take part in engaging educational discussions and activities. The program’s unique combination of Jewish education and observance, combined with the excitement of peer travel, makes for a life-shaping, identity-building experience that has been unique to USY since 1965.

Cost & Scholarships

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.)

Scholarships are offered by the USY regions , local congregations and other affiliated programs. For further information contact your synagogue, regional USY director, or visit our scholarship database and Ways to Save page.

For more information about USY Summer Experience, please read our F.A.Q. page.