Experiential travel helps our teens understand the Jewish and secular culture, sights, sounds, foods, and so much more of the incredibly special places we are able to visit. On EPIC Eastern Europe/Israel, we spend the first week and a half of this journey criss-crossing Eastern Europe to both experience the lasting impact of Jewish life and culture etc and learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust at the sites where these terrible crimes against our people took place. Through this experience, we carry on the memory of those we lost, while actively renewing and returning Jewish voices to the communities we visit. Of course, like all of our EPIC Israel experiences, this is capped with four weeks in Israel as we go “home” and continue telling our thriving Jewish story.
✈️ International Flight to Israel
🚌 Land Transportation
🥙 Kosher Meals & Snacks
🎫 Programming & Entry Fees
🧺 Laundry Services
Walk in the footsteps of those who came before you with a tour of Jewish Eastern Europe, from the shtetls to important Holocaust sites. Through this experience, we carry on the memory of those we lost, while actively renewing and returning Jewish voices to the communities we visit. Then, go “home” to Israel for four weeks covering all the must-sees of the Holy Land. This tris is an incredibly powerful, meaningful, and fun way to spend your summer!
USY’s Epic Eastern Europe & Israel trip is for Jewish teens in 10th-12th grades who want to deepen their Jewish experience with an immersive experience abroad.
Each participant will be gifted a travel-sized siddur & B’Kol Echad on the first day of the program. Every day, participants gather for prayer services in the Conservative Judaism movement tradition. Each Shabbat, EPIC participants will also have the opportunity to in the egalitarian section of the Kotel (Western Wall).
The itinerary in Israel is designed to take participants through their own journey of discovery in Israel enabling them to find their own personal connection to the country. The first chapter of the program, based in Jerusalem, focuses on the Jewish past in the land. The second chapter of the program focuses on the beauty of the land itself in the Galil and the Negev. The final chapter gives a deep dive into contemporary Israeli society and culture, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Therefore by the end of Epic Israel each participant can work for themselves which is their personal connection to the land. Is it through the richness of the Jewish past in Israel, the magnificence of the land, or the beautiful and complicated tapestry that makes up Israeli society and culture? Or is it all three?
Please note, this is subject to change due to extenuating circumstances.
* Our plans for the summer are continuing and adapting to the new reality of Israel. All of our plans are subject to the authorization of security authorities in the US, Europe, and Israel. We have an impeccable safety record and work in close collaboration with international security authorities to ensure the safety of our participants. During the trip, our team will be in touch with the Jewish Agency on an hourly basis to assess risk and ensure safety.
Land in Berlin, Germany and begin your European travels.
Discover the vibrant Jewish community of Berlin and visit the Jewish Museum.
Celebrate Shabbat together with the Masorti (Conservative) community of Berlin.
Explore urban historical markers reminding Germans of each of the 90 anti-Jewish laws made during the Holocaust, a memorial for child victims, and a tour of a factory that hid disabled Jews from persecution.
Explore the fairy-tale Royal Gardens and Wallenstein Castle complex with its iconic historic architecture.
Walk the cobblestone streets of the Jewish Quarter (WWII-era ghetto) and visit the Jewish Museum.
Take in a poignant piece of World War II history with a tour of the largest concentration camp in the Czech Republic.
Pay respects to the final resting places of famous Jews from Polish history.
Hear from character actors who bring the Majdanek experience to reality with interactive tours. Honor the victims with a teen-led yahrzeit service.
Hear survivor stories and then walk the chilling historic site. Our visit will include a memorial service to remember the victims of the genocide.
Land at Ben Gurion International Airport to continue the summer of a lifetime in the Holy Land. Traditionally, Jews arriving in Israel take a moment to kiss the ground.
Hike through forest and olive groves in one of Israel’s most beautiful natural areas, nestled in the Jerusalem Hills.
Engage in hands-on tzedakah through community service to assemble food packs for the hungry in Israel and beyond.
The excavation of the Southern Wall is the largest archaeological dig project in Israel. Walk down a first-century street and imagine what life was like for ancient Jews.
Camels were a key part of ancient life in Israel. Experience a remnant of history with a camel ride through the iconic Judean Desert Hills (known in the Torah simply as “the wilderness”).
Located in the Judean Desert, Masada is an ancient fortress representing the last stand of the Judean revolt against the Roman Empire. Take in the incredible views from the plateau overlooking the hills and the Dead Sea.
The lowest place on Earth and the deepest hypersalinity lake in existence, the Dead Sea should be on every Israel itinerary. Float in the salty waters and enjoy the medicinal properties of the mud.
Known as the “Land of a Thousand Caves,” this national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the ruins of the ancient city of Tel Maresha and see the incredible bell cave. Then, participate in a real archaeological dig – will you find an artifact to display in the museum?
Nurture your Jewish identity with a visit to Tel Aviv’s ANU. More than a museum, ANU tells the extraordinary 4,000-year-long story of the Jewish People in Israel and beyond.
Explore the sparkling coastline of Tel Aviv and cool off with a dip in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ancient history meets modern delights in the Old City of Yaffo (Jaffa).
This bustling open-air market is a must-see for visitors to Tel Aviv.
Take a dip at this white sand beach with turquoise waters.
Visit the kibbutz founded in 1908 to train Jews making aliyah in the art of pioneering. Today, it operates as an interactive history museum.
Unwrap a piece of delicious history at this third-generation chocolatier in Golan Heights. Enjoy a tour of the factory and taste the iconic sweet treats.
Trek through a volcanic valley in northern Israel near the border of Syria to explore a region important to multiple world religions.
Cool off on a hot summer day with a relaxing float down the picturesque Jordan River.
Discover the winding paths through the mystical old city of Tzfat. Pop into artist studios to see traditional and modern art forms come to life.
This ancient port is now home to a vibrant city with brilliant coexistence of religious diversity. Take a stroll along the sea walls and wander the gorgeous Enchanted Gardens.
This gorgeous seaside kibbutz is the only place in Israel where the mountains meet the sea. Take a ride on the steepest cable car route in the world to see breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and white-chalk cliffs.
Experience the world-renowned Druze hospitality with a visit to one of Israel’s famous Druze villages.
One of the most unique deserts in the world, Negev offers plunging valleys and incredible plateau-top views. Experience all it has to offer with a hike to a natural spring and rappelling off the cliffsides.
Learn about the formation of the incredible Ramon Crater and enjoy spectacular views from this cliffside museum.
Experience cuteness overload with a visit to one of the largest alpaca and llama herds in the world.
Find unique souvenirs in the largest market in Jerusalem with 250+ vendors.
Israel’s official Holocaust memorial museum, remembering victims and survivors of the atrocities.
Israel’s national cemetery and the final resting place of Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism.
Daven where millions of Jews have davened over thousands of years with a visit to the egalitarian section of the Kotel.
For over 60 years USY has taken thousands of teens to Israel, connecting them to the Jewish homeland. By experiencing Israel’s beauty and power alongside their peers, taking part in a variety of adventurous outdoor activities, and engaging in interesting educational discussions, teens gain a new appreciation, understanding, and love for the country.
Each group includes 20-45 teens.
Groups are led by 3-5 staff members including a group leader, North American counselors, an Israeli counselor, and an Israeli medic. All staff members are qualified university student leaders, advisors, youth directors, teachers, and rabbinical students.
Additional support staff in Israel includes various knowledgeable lecturers, tour guides, and other USY personnel. All USY Summer Experience staff participate in an intensive training seminar prior to the trips, including becoming certified in CPR/First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid.
EPIC Israel programs are open to teens in grades 10-12 at the time of registration.
Teens travel on a fully equipped motor coach, driven by professionals. Whenever possible, we maintain the same drivers throughout the summer.
The safety and security of our participants and staff is our highest priority. Our programs operate under the security umbrella of the Jewish Agency and their Cheder Matzav, or Situation Room. Our team is consistently in touch with their team as they check and recheck our itinerary on a daily and sometimes hourly basis, and they make adjustments as needed throughout the summer whether that be because of a security update, a heatwave, etc. Changes to the trip may include travel routes, accommodations, and escalation of USY security protocols. We always scrupulously avoid “unsafe” destinations and venues. Additionally, the groups travel around Israel with different guards throughout the summer.
While traveling, teens will have the opportunity to taste the flavors of Europe and Israel. Three full, kosher meals and numerous snacks are given each day. Food is provided by various caterers, hotels, and restaurants throughout Israel. Additionally, in some cities teens will be able to go out on their own for meals at select kosher restaurants.
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, during which time it’s our hope that the city will feel like a second home for participants.
During the course of the summer, teens participate in at least six hours of volunteer work. 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 would recommend participating in EPIC Israel Plus, for which one of the four-day tracks will be community service-based. During these four days, teens will have the chance to experience Israel in a truly one-of-a-kind way— by meeting and helping the people of Israel through hands-on service and social action projects.
In addition to spending a great deal of time in Jerusalem, the groups will take trips to the Galilee, Haifa, the northern seacoast, Tzfat, Tel Aviv, the Negev Desert, Masada, and other exciting places.
USY EPIC Israel is not just a tour of Israel. It is an active experience. We don’t want to just show participants places, we want to introduce them to life there.
The trip is filled with time to bond with new friends, fun games and activities, amazing seminars, and captivating speakers who bring Israel alive. Groups will participate in intensive and exciting ‘Mitzvah Projects’ throughout the country, which will allow them to directly interact with and impact the communities they visit.
We believe every teen deserves the opportunity to participate in USY summer travel regardless of financial restrictions. Please visit our Ways to Save page to learn about various venues for scholarship, including through USY.
As in years past, USY is once again applying for funding from RootOne LLC., an organization aimed at helping teens travel to and experience Israel. RootOne may help offset costs for eligible trip participants only. USY is actively applying for our RootOne grant, and we encourage you to take part today! Learn more at RootOne.org and be in touch with us directly with any questions. (Note, Vouchers are subject to participant eligibility and are not guaranteed. USY’s prior RootOne funding is no guarantee of future funding.) * Not available for graduating seniors or students of orthodox day schools.