General Questions

Mostly 15-17 year olds, entering their 11th or 12th grade years of high school. Participants must turn at least 15 during the calendar year of their participation and must be entering 10th grade or above. Graduating high school seniors may attend as well.
Participation in NFTY is not required to attend NFTY in Israel.

We do think NFTY is a great way to experience year-round teen-powered youth programming, grounded in the principles of leadership, ethical mitzvot, Torah, and Tikkun Olam. For more information about NFTY visit NFTY.org.

For North American Trip dates visit the North American Trips page. For Camp Trip dates visit the Camp Trips page.

Logistics Questions

Most of our trips leave from and return to John F. Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Newark-Liberty International Airport in the New York metropolitan area. Some groups may have special departures from other airports in the United States.

  • Domestic Flights – USA and Canada Participants and their families are usually responsible for their own domestic arrangements to and from the program’s departure city.
  • International Flights – USA to Israel or Europe NFTY in Israel arranges your international flights from our group departure airport at the beginning, during (if applicable), and commencement of the program. We only book our groups on American, European, and Israeli airlines that comply with the all safety and security measures required to fly in the United States, Europe, and Israel.
  • Meeting the Group in the Program Departure City Participants who fly to the departure city on their own are given explicit instructions how to transfer from their domestic arriving airport or terminal to the departure terminal for their group international flight. NFTY in Israel staff is on hand on the days of departure and arrival to ensure that all participants make their connections safely.
A passport is a picture identification that is required for international travel. All participants on a NFTY in Israel program will need a passport that is valid for 6 months after the conclusion of the program, per Israeli requirements.
We take a few different factors into account in creating groups that provide a healthy social and educational environment for all our teens:

  • Teens coming from across North America will be placed in groups with other teens who have chosen to join the program independently. If you are not coming as part of a community group, there will always be others in your group coming on their own as well.
  • Some of our partners in regional, synagogue, or community groups may organize a cohort of teens to attend together. We’ll make sure all the teens in a community cohort are placed in the same group.
  • If you are attending with your URJ Camp community, you’ll travel in the same group with your friends from camp.

What is the typical group size? How many boys and girls attend? The typical group ranges from 35 – 42 participants. While some groups are close to 50:50 gender split, it can vary depending on the individual teens who choose to register.

Will I be placed with my friends? We will guarantee you are placed in a group with friends as long as you have:

  1. Registered on time
  2. Are participating in the same program
  3. You have the chosen the same trip dates
  • Our groups stay at a higher level of accommodations than most other youth programs.
  • In Israel, our groups stay in kibbutz guesthouses, youth centers, hotels and camping sites throughout Israel. Usually 3 – 4 participants per room with a private bath and most are air-conditioned.
  • In Europe our groups stay exclusively in hotels.
  • Our accommodations are safe and appropriate for teens.
  • Participants are provided with three complete meals each day.
  • A vegetarian option is always available.
  • Nearly every accommodation during the summer in Israel is Kosher and meals will be Kosher style.
  • Meals in Europe will be Kosher style, but it is very difficult to procure certified Kosher food in Eastern Europe.
  • Dietary restrictions can nearly always be accommodated if we are given sufficiently advance notice before the trip.
After registering for a NFTY in Israel program, you will have access to an online account that will contain the summer packing list, along with other important materials.
Passports are held for safekeeping in our safe at the NFTY in Israel Jerusalem office (or by the group leaders while in Europe). Airline tickets are issued as eTickets, so there is no need for a teen to travel with a physical ticket during the summer. For spending money, we recommend using a debit card in order to minimize the chance of loss or theft of large amounts of spending money.

We recommend against bringing non-essential valuables that may be misplaced or damaged while traveling.

Health and Safety Questions

We strive for the highest standard of staff supervision. Our Tour Educators and Group Leaders are generally older and have more Jewish and life experience than in most other programs. Staff-to-participant ratio is approximately 1:10. There are always at least 3 staff members with each bus.

  1. Tour Educator (Age 25+)
  2. Group Leader (Age 25+)
  3. One or more Counselors (Age 21+)

Each person selected to serve as a NFTY in Israel staff member has extensive experience working with teens, knowledge of Israel, and often is a graduate of NFTY or our URJ camping system. Each staff team is comprised of women and men, North Americans and Israelis.

All staff members participate in a thorough staff training orientation covering issues of education, health, safety, security, community building and adolescent issues. Our Tour Educators are required to participate in a 6-month training course in Israel designed exclusively by NFTY in Israel for our staff.

Senior Unit Supervisor – Each group travels on their own bus in a Unit with up to 3 other groups. A senior supervisor (age 30+) travels with the Unit to supervise the educational program, staff and participants. The Senior Unit Supervisor is an accomplished Jewish educator and administrator.

Medical Coordinator – An individual with appropriate medical training travels with each unit of buses to manage care for each participant.

Senior Leadership – NFTY in Israel is supervised by senior URJ Youth professional staff in Israel and North America.

We enroll all participants on our programs in a travel medical insurance plan that covers most illness and injury during the trip. The insurance does not cover care for pre-existing conditions. We strive to provide the highest standard of medical care available, including:

  • A medical coordinator attached to each unit of buses
  • Access to English-speaking doctors
  • Participants are always accompanied (24 hours a day if necessary) while visiting a physician or in the hospital
Participants are responsible for holding and dispensing their own medications. We understand teens have varying levels of experience managing medications, and so our staff are prepared to provide age-appropriate support in building this essential life skill, such as reminders to take medications on time and reminders to double-check medication is packed before leaving for a new hotel. Our staff will directly assist participants who have medications that require special handling, such as refrigeration.

For details, please visit our Safety and Security Protocols page.

We believe that the health, safety and security of the teens entrusted to our care is always our highest priority. As such, we are exceedingly cautious and conservative. We review our itineraries on a daily basis to ensure that all groups are traveling on the safest and most appropriate routes. Each group has cell phones and a GPS tracker, and is in daily contact with the NFTY in Israel office in Jerusalem. We can make changes to the itinerary and programming at a moment’s notice. We are in touch with security authorities in Israel on a daily basis and their representatives in Europe who are responsible for the safety of youth trips.

  • NFTY in Israel’s Directors in Israel and senior staff in New York are available 24 hours a day.
  • NFTY in Israel’s office in New York is open 8 hours a day and we check voicemail every weekday.
  • Each unit supervisor and group leader has a cell phone for immediate contact.
The Union for Reform Judaism requires that all camp and travel program participants, staff and faculty be immunized. For more information, read the URJ Policy Statement on Vaccine Status.

Are any special vaccinations needed for travel to Israel or Europe? For most travelers, the vaccines required by our vaccine policy are sufficient for safe travel to Israel and Europe. You may wish to consult the Centers for Disease Control website and your family doctor to determine if additional vaccines are advisable.

Other

NFTY in Israel alumni are permitted to travel on Taglit-Birthright Israel when older.

Taglit-Birthright Israel is a free 10-day trip exclusively for 18-26 year olds. While Birthright is a wonderful benefit for Jewish young adults, we believe the 3-5 weeks spent on a NFTY in Israel program provides for a much deeper experience. We encourage anyone interested in both NFTY in Israel and Taglit-Birthright Israel to participate in NFTY in Israel while still in high school, knowing that they can still take advantage of the gift of Birthright when they are older.

For more information visit GoKesher.org.

If you’ve already registered, please refer to the Bulletin #1 summer handbook, which has everything you need to know about the summer trip. Questions may be directed to our North American staff at (212) 452-6517 or by email at nftyisrael@urj.org.