israel travel for families
SUMMER EXPERIENCES

INT’L LEADERSHIP SEMINAR IN ISRAEL (ILSI)

ILSI is BBYO’s elite 3-week leadership program in Israel designed for BBYO members, and welcoming Jewish teens from around the world on a summer tradition spanning three generations.

FUNDING FOR ISRAEL TRAVEL! New $3,000 RootOne voucher for teens traveling to Israel with BBYO, regardless of financial need. Available on a limited basis – Learn more and claim yours!

Travel alongside Jewish teens from around the world on International Leadership Seminar Israel, BBYO’s premier Israel experience.

Together you’ll explore Jerusalem, scale the heights of Masada, and tap into the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv. More than just a tour, ILSI is an opportunity for education and growth using the Land of Israel as a classroom. The program empowers teens to develop their leadership, form their own personal connection to Israel, and return home ready to extend the ILSI experience into a life-long journey!

NOTE: ILSI is designed with BBYO members in mind as an enrichment experience. Although most ILSI participants are BBYO members, ILSI is open to non-members who seek this type of program.

What Makes it ILSI?

It’s no coincidence ILSI has been the culmination of BBYO’s leadership experience for three generations. Here’s why!

Small-Group Learning

Although you’ll travel together as part of a larger community, ILSI is an intimate educational experience – with one senior educator attached to each cluster of ~20 teens. We divide further into smaller mishpacha (family) groups for processing and discussion.

Living Jewish Peoplehood

ILSI convenes Jewish teens from across North America and from around the world – including countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Latvia, Croatia, and Israel. This diversity is a unique opportunity to live the value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze (we’re all responsible for one another).

Jewish Leadership Modeling

ILSI highlights the stories of leaders who made key impacts on the course of Jewish history — figures like King David, Bar Kochba, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, Theodore Herzl, Hanna Senesh, David Ben Gurion, and Yitzhak Rabin. Their unique leadership approaches shed light on the past and inspire the future.

Connecting with Israeli Society

More than a tour, ILSI provides opportunities to connect with the people of Israel. You’ll meet with teens from Maccabi Tzair (BBYO’s sister movement in Israel), active-duty IDF soldiers, and a cross-section of ethnic and religious leaders. Israel is a vibrant county; you’ll get a taste of its rich diversity.

The Joy of a Summer in Israel

Raft down the Jordan River, sleep under the stars in the desert, hike down a lush canyon on the Golan, enjoy the Tel Aviv beachfront, explore colorful open-air markets, and swim in natural springs. You’ll return home with lifelong memories from a summer adventure in Israel.

EUROPEAN CONNECTIONS

ILSI can be experienced as a core 22-day program, or it can be extended with a connected experience in Europe prior to arriving in Israel (29-35 day program)

Program Highlights

For a more detailed view of the program, check out the Program Itinerary

Enrich your mind on topics ranging from Jewish philosophy to contemporary Zionist thought to geopolitical strategy
Put all your BBYO leadership skills to use in the Land of Israel, and grapple with the Jewish Homeland’s future
Travel with fellow Jewish teens from across the BBYO Global Network for a cross-cultural perspective
Spend a powerful Shabbat in the heart of Jerusalem and tap into the Jewish mystical tradition of Tzfat
Learn from a wide cross-section of dynamic thought leaders, artists, and religious figures
Walk in the footsteps of 4,000 years of Jewish history as we travel throughout Israel
Experience the beauty and power of the Kotel and Jerusalem’s walled Old City
Float in the Dead Sea, climb to the heights of Masada, and survey the region from the Golan Heights
Participate in meaningful community service projects and explore models for co-existence
Soak up the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv and enjoy its lively beach culture!

BBYO + Israel + You!

Each summer, we convene nearly all our Israel experiences for a massive celebration called BBYO B’Yachad (Hebrew for “togetherness”). True to its name, the event unites an international community of Jewish teens from across North America and countries as diverse as France, Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, Turkey, Latvia, and Singapore. Join us for the party of the summer in Israel!

Travel to Israel presents a unique opportunity for teens to form a personal connection to our history and to experience their Judaism from a new perspective. But why go to Israel in high school? We believe and studies have shown that a multi-week experience in Israel during the high school years can have a profound impact on the development of an enduring and fulfilling Jewish identity. Explore More

Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies, and itineraries are designed with caution in mind. Each group is accompanied by a licensed medic/guard and trained staff who supervise the teens. Explore More

We believe all Jewish teens should experience Israel during their formative high school years. To that end, we provide need-based scholarships on the local and national level regardless of prior BBYO involvement. Many Jewish Federations provide additional need-based and grant-based scholarship. Funding availability is limited, so you’ll want to apply early. Explore More

We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

DAY #1 | Monday, June 28, 2021 | The Journey Begins

  • Depart for Israel on a supervised overnight flight (optional)

DAY #2 | Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Baruch HaBah – Getting Oriented to Israel

  • Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport – Meet our Israeli staff team and the journey begins
  • Head south to the Negev Desert – where the history of the Jewish People began
  • Shehecheyanu! – Welcome ceremony at Tel Azeka overlooking the Ellah Valley, site of the David & Goliath story
  • Check-in to our accommodations, followed by orientation and dinner

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #3 | Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | The Desert Blooms

  • Morning hike to the hidden desert pools at Ein Avdat Canyon
  • Explore the world’s largest erosion crater at the Ramon Crater Visitor Center
  • Sde Boker – Learn about David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding leader, and his vision for the desert
  • Return to our accommodations for free time at the pool
  • Evening: Experience a traditional fresh-cooked “Poike Pot” meal in the desert

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #4 | Thursday, July 1, 2021 | Challenges and Adaptations

  • Wake up early to experience the thrill of sandboarding down natural dunes in the Negev Desert
  • Taste the wonders of Israel’s desert agriculture revolution at the Salad Trail Farm
  • Visit Netiv HaAsara on the frontier with Gaza, and learn how this community has adapted to its surroundings while maintaining a hopeful outlook
  • Afternoon encounter with Bedouin women entrepreneurs in the desert community of Lakiya
  • Travel to the Judean Desert for a desert tent dinner feast at Kfar Hanokdim encampment
  • Evening: Stargazing walk in the Judean Desert

OVERNIGHT: Judean Desert – Israel


DAY #5 | Friday, July 2, 2021 | Masada and Dead Sea

  • Pre-sunrise climb up Masada, a fortress overlooking the Dead Sea, via the Roman Ramp trail
  • Tour of Masada – Herod’s mountaintop desert fortress
  • Experience effortless floating at the Dead Sea – the lowest place on the planet!
  • Ascend to Jerusalem – Stopping for a panoramic view of Jerusalem at the Mt. Scopus overlook
  • Check-in to our accommodations and prepare for our first Shabbat together in Israel
  • Pre-Shabbat musical experience followed by Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the Jerusalem Hills

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #6 | Saturday, July 3, 2021 | A Song for the Sabbath Day

  • Shabbat programming and lunch at our accommodations
  • Guest Educator: The geo-politics of Israel in today’s Middle East
  • Afternoon: Pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah ceremony – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a group night out at Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street Pedestrian Mall

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #7 | Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Foundations of Jewish History in Jerusalem

  • Discover how King David established a Jewish capital at the City of David archeological complex, and then cool down splashing through Hezekiah’s underground aqueduct deep beneath the city
  • Enter the Old City’s Zion Gate and explore the ancient squares and rooftops of the historic Jewish Quarter
  • Break for lunch and personal exploration time in the Cardo area of the Jewish Quarter
  • Reflections at the Kotel – The Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site, and continue on to explore the Southern Wall excavations
  • Evening: Preparation for our Yad VaShem visit

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #8 | Monday, July 5, 2021 | Remembrance & Renewal

  • Yad Vashem– The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
  • Reflections over a picnic-style lunch at Jerusalem’s Mifletzet Park
  • Visit to the Kids 4 Peace center, an initiative in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah promoting co-existence among all of the city’s youth
  • Evening: Dinner at our accommodations followed by a t-shirt design activity with the NU Campaign – creative fashion for a cause

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #9 | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Northwards to the Galilee

  • Travel to Neot Kedumim Biblical Park for tree planting ceremony, leadership workshop and group cooked lunch
  • Depart the Jerusalem region and travel north to the Galilee
  • Tzippori National Park – Explore this extensive archaeological complex that was once home to the ancient Sanhedrin during the Exile Era
  • Continue north to the Galilee, stopping for our fist view of the Kinneret – the Sea of Galilee
  • Check-in and dinner at our accommodations in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #10 | Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | Mystics of the Galilee

  • Wander through the ancient city of Tzfat – The historic center of Judaism’s Kabbalah movement
  • Meet Kabbalistic artists, Avraham Lowenthal and Sheva Chaya – with free time to browse the Tzfat artists’ colony
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon at Aqua Kef and experience the thrill of this floating waterpark on the Sea of Galilee
  • Evening: BBQ dinner on the beach of the Sea of Galilee shores

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #11 | Thursday, July 8, 2021 | The Pioneering Heritage in the Galilee

  • Leket – Take part in a harvesting project for the hungry at Moshav Nahalal
  • Ascend Mount Gilboa for a strategic view of the Jezreal Valley, Israel’s most fertile region
  • Lunch at Kibbutz Nir-David and learn about its pioneering legacy
  • Cool-off swimming in the spring-fed waters of the Sachne – Israel’s “Garden of Eden”
  • Kinneret Courtyard & Cemetery – Honor the leadership of Israel’s early pioneers
  • Evening: Meet with a diverse panel of student leaders who call the Galilee home

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #12 | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Views from the Golan Heights

  • Morning – Ascend the Golan Heights, and hike down Nahal Jilaboun canyon
  • Evening: Encounter with Druze culture and share a traditional meal in the Golan village of Ein Kinya
  • Travel to the summit of Mt. Ben Tal for a view across the Golan and a look at Israel’s neighbors
  • Finish the day rafting down the upper Jordan River 
  • Evening: Mark the beginning of Shabbat with an outdoors Kabbalat Shabbat in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #13 | Saturday, July 10, 2021 | Shabbat on the Beach

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Tour of the kibbutz community and learn about the history of the kibbutz idea
  • Afternoon: Enjoy a relaxed Shabbat with pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah service – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a boat cruise on the Kinneret and group night out in Tiberias

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #14 | Sunday, July 11, 2021 | Israel’s Multi-Ethnic Society

  • Volunteer project with Pitchon Lev in Karmiel, one of Israel’s original “development cities”
  • Continue to the Mavrhatey Center where we will celebrate the unique culture of Ethiopian Jewry – participating in a traditional Buna coffee ceremony and cooking our own Ethiopian-style lunch
  • Arrive to Haifa – a model for co-existence in Israel – where we’ll tour the Bahai Temple Gardens and Ahmadiyya Mosque

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #15 | Monday, July 12, 2021 | Ingathering of the Exiles

  • Meet with Zev Kedem – A Holocaust Survivor on Schindler’s List
  • Zichron Yaakov – Walking tour of this community in the Carmel Mountains that was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and a band of pioneering Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 19th Century
  • Atlit detainee camp – Discover the fate that awaited many Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during the British Mandate Era
  • Afternoon – Free time to enjoy Haifa’s lively beach culture!
  • Evening: Mifgash (cross-cultural encounter) with Israeli teens from Maccabi Tza’ir – BBYO’s counterpart youth movement in Israel

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #16 | Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Establishing Modern Israel

  • Travel to Tel Aviv – Israel’s cultural and commercial capital
  • Tour and seminar at the Yitzhak Rabin Center – Learn about Israel’s most famous soldier and statesman
  • Enjoy the colorful Nahalat Binyamin street festival and explore the Carmel Market
  • Independence Hall – Visit the site where the State of Israel was first declared and learn about the Jewish State’s founding vision
  • Check-in and dinner at our Tel Aviv area accommodations
  • Evening: Attend a showing of “Not by Bread Alone” at Nalagaat – Israel’s groundbreaking theater troupe, comprised of deaf and blind actors

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #17 | Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | Tikkun Olam – Fixing the World with Hearts & Hands

  • Volunteer project with Eitan Special, a JDC-funded initiative, and take part in Krav Maga activities with their members
  • Take part in a variety of Leadership Labs across Tel Aviv
  • Evening: Dinner at our hotel followed by an innovation workshop with Gaya Games

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #18 | Thursday, July 15, 2021 | Leadership & Innovation in Tel Aviv

  • Tap into the spirit driving the story of modern Israel at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation
  • Take in the views from the ancient port city of Jaffa, and browse the colorful Jaffa flea market
  • Save a Child’s Heart– Meet children seeking lifesaving treatment in Israel from around the world
  • Afternoon: Return to Jerusalem and check-in to our city center accommodations
  • BBYO B’Yachad – Celebrate our summer in Israel together with all of the BBYO Passport groups

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #19 | Friday, July 16, 2021 | Security, Values & Israel’s Future

  • Travel to the West Bank/Judea for an encounter at the Roots Tent – Engage in a constructive dialogue of perspectives with a Jewish Settler and a Palestinian Arab who both call this Land home
  • Continue to Gush Etzion, the original West Bank settlement bloc and meet with Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat over lunch
  • Return to Jerusalem and grapple with Jerusalem’s security challenges at the separation barrier
  • Evening: Kabbalat Shabbat experience in Jerusalem followed by Shabbat dinner at our hotel

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #20 | Saturday, July 17, 2021 | A Reflective Shabbat in Jerusalem

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Walk to the Israel Museum to discover the Dead Sea Scrolls, Temple Model, and Israel’s most prized cultural and historic treasures
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun and reflecting on the journey at Jerusalem’s Saker Park
  • Havdalah ceremony – Celebrate the start of our final week together followed by a viewing of “Hero in Heaven” in preparation for our visit to Har Herzl
  • Evening: Final group night out at Jerusalem’s First Station market

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #21 | Sunday, July 18, 2021 | Bringing the Spirit of Israel Home

  • Late wake-up and prepare for our return flights
  • Herzl National Cemetery – Honoring Israel’s national leaders and fallen soldiers
  • Tour of the Knesset – Learn about Israel’s parliamentary system and how it safeguards the Jewish State’s democratic laws and traditions
  • Enjoy the sights and smells of Mahane Yehuda open-air food market and navigate the market with a “Shuk Bites” lunch card
  • Return to the Old City for final reflections at the Western Wall and for the opportunity to tour layers of Jerusalem history inside the Western Wall Tunnels
  • Evening: Wrap-up session and celebrate our time together in Israel at a closing banquet dinner party

OVERNIGHT: Return to Ben Gurion Airport for our overnight return flight


DAY #22 | Monday | Shalom and L’Hitraot!

  • Travelers on the group flight arrive back to North America in the morning

Have questions? We’re here to help! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available, and we encourage you to also review the Pre-Trip Prep Guide for our Israel programs. Schedule a call to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Your teen can travel to the program in multiple ways. The most common option is taking our supervised group flight, organized by our team. This flight often departs from the New York City area, and we may also provide group flights from other North American cities according to demand (e.g. LAX, SFO, ORD, BOS, NYC, YUL, and MIA). Flight arrangements will be released in the spring and you are responsible for your teen’s transportation to and from the departure location. If you choose to book on your own but correspond with the supervised flight itinerary, you have the option to use miles or points. Alternatively, you can book a separate flight for your teen that meets the group at the first location (additional fees may apply if a special pick-up/drop-off is needed). Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Many of the accommodations we stay at are kibbutz-based guest houses that are located in Israel’s countryside and provide space for exploration within a secure environment. We use conventional hotels when we stay in cities. During the Sea-to-Sea Hike and BaMidbar Wilderness Experience, our overnights will be in nature, and all camping gear (including sleeping bags) will be provided. Finally, all accommodations in Israel have security, and we book rooms so that each teen has their own bed in rooms that typically accommodate 3 or 4 teens per room.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) from North America and a local Israeli guide. They are joined by an armed guard and bus driver. Senior field staff circulates between the groups for extra support as well. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Feel free to ask them any remaining questions you may have. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from hot to hotter in the summer. Clothing should be lightweight and comfortable in the heat. Whenever outside for an extended period, teens will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. Overexposure to the hot Middle Eastern sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns. The good news is the heat is mostly dry – there is very little humidity, and the chance of rain in Israel during the summer is practically zero- no umbrellas needed! Evenings in Israel tend to get chilly quickly – frequently into the 50s or 60s. Because we will not always return to our accommodations to change before an evening activity, always bring a day-pack with a windbreaker, long-sleeved shirt, or light sweater. Layers are key! A more detailed guide to packing is provided in the Pre-Trip Prep Guide.

How do you approach security?
Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies and are centrally monitored by Israel’s Situation Room. Our itineraries are designed with caution in mind and our policies are calibrated to local conditions. Finally, each group is accompanied by trained staff and a licensed guard accompanies all touring-based activities. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety and security as well as more specific details about our Israel policies.

What’s the typical group size?
Although it varies from year to year, our average group size on ILSI is 120 teens, including European and Israeli teens. Our travel is organized as multiple distinct bus groups and each bus group is divided into educational communities. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have multiple parties from the same area register together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.
Note: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program in late spring.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals, and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. All food provided by BBYO Passport experiences in Israel is kosher. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program. Expect to eat Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods such as falafel, hummus, schnitzel, shakshouka, bourekas, and much more.

Will I need a visa?
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport – good news! – you don’t need a visa to enter Israel. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

If your teen is an Israeli citizen…
If your teen has dual citizenship, they must enter Israel with their Israeli passport. Your passport cannot expire within six months of the program start date in order to enter Israel. If your passport needs to be renewed, do so well in advance. Keep in mind, your teen should travel with both passports. Teens who are 17 years of age, have Israeli citizenship, and live in the USA, may have to arrange for release from service of the Israeli Army. We recommend that you reach out to the Israeli consulate in your state to confirm what is required to avoid issues while in Israel.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

BBYO makes it easy to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning, and self-discovery. Learn more about how connections work, and keep those summer memories going and going!

AMBASSADORS TO BULGARIA + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

POLAND JOURNEY +
ILSI

Central-Europe-Discovery-Slider-1

A supervised connection
29 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

GERMANY & PRAGUE DISCOVERY + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

We know you'll love a BBYO Passport experience. But don't just take our word. Check out these real reviews from our past travelers and families.

 

FUNDING FOR ISRAEL TRAVEL! New $3,000 RootOne voucher for teens traveling to Israel with BBYO, regardless of financial need. Available on a limited basis – Learn more and claim yours!

Travel alongside Jewish teens from around the world on International Leadership Seminar Israel, BBYO’s premier Israel experience.

Together you’ll explore Jerusalem, scale the heights of Masada, and tap into the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv. More than just a tour, ILSI is an opportunity for education and growth using the Land of Israel as a classroom. The program empowers teens to develop their leadership, form their own personal connection to Israel, and return home ready to extend the ILSI experience into a life-long journey!

NOTE: ILSI is designed with BBYO members in mind as an enrichment experience. Although most ILSI participants are BBYO members, ILSI is open to non-members who seek this type of program.

What Makes it ILSI?

It’s no coincidence ILSI has been the culmination of BBYO’s leadership experience for three generations. Here’s why!

Small-Group Learning

Although you’ll travel together as part of a larger community, ILSI is an intimate educational experience – with one senior educator attached to each cluster of ~20 teens. We divide further into smaller mishpacha (family) groups for processing and discussion.

Living Jewish Peoplehood

ILSI convenes Jewish teens from across North America and from around the world – including countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Latvia, Croatia, and Israel. This diversity is a unique opportunity to live the value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze (we’re all responsible for one another).

Jewish Leadership Modeling

ILSI highlights the stories of leaders who made key impacts on the course of Jewish history — figures like King David, Bar Kochba, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, Theodore Herzl, Hanna Senesh, David Ben Gurion, and Yitzhak Rabin. Their unique leadership approaches shed light on the past and inspire the future.

Connecting with Israeli Society

More than a tour, ILSI provides opportunities to connect with the people of Israel. You’ll meet with teens from Maccabi Tzair (BBYO’s sister movement in Israel), active-duty IDF soldiers, and a cross-section of ethnic and religious leaders. Israel is a vibrant county; you’ll get a taste of its rich diversity.

The Joy of a Summer in Israel

Raft down the Jordan River, sleep under the stars in the desert, hike down a lush canyon on the Golan, enjoy the Tel Aviv beachfront, explore colorful open-air markets, and swim in natural springs. You’ll return home with lifelong memories from a summer adventure in Israel.

EUROPEAN CONNECTIONS

ILSI can be experienced as a core 22-day program, or it can be extended with a connected experience in Europe prior to arriving in Israel (29-35 day program)

Program Highlights

For a more detailed view of the program, check out the Program Itinerary

Enrich your mind on topics ranging from Jewish philosophy to contemporary Zionist thought to geopolitical strategy
Put all your BBYO leadership skills to use in the Land of Israel, and grapple with the Jewish Homeland’s future
Travel with fellow Jewish teens from across the BBYO Global Network for a cross-cultural perspective
Spend a powerful Shabbat in the heart of Jerusalem and tap into the Jewish mystical tradition of Tzfat
Learn from a wide cross-section of dynamic thought leaders, artists, and religious figures
Walk in the footsteps of 4,000 years of Jewish history as we travel throughout Israel
Experience the beauty and power of the Kotel and Jerusalem’s walled Old City
Float in the Dead Sea, climb to the heights of Masada, and survey the region from the Golan Heights
Participate in meaningful community service projects and explore models for co-existence
Soak up the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv and enjoy its lively beach culture!

BBYO + Israel + You!

Each summer, we convene nearly all our Israel experiences for a massive celebration called BBYO B’Yachad (Hebrew for “togetherness”). True to its name, the event unites an international community of Jewish teens from across North America and countries as diverse as France, Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, Turkey, Latvia, and Singapore. Join us for the party of the summer in Israel!

Travel to Israel presents a unique opportunity for teens to form a personal connection to our history and to experience their Judaism from a new perspective. But why go to Israel in high school? We believe and studies have shown that a multi-week experience in Israel during the high school years can have a profound impact on the development of an enduring and fulfilling Jewish identity. Explore More

Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies, and itineraries are designed with caution in mind. Each group is accompanied by a licensed medic/guard and trained staff who supervise the teens. Explore More

We believe all Jewish teens should experience Israel during their formative high school years. To that end, we provide need-based scholarships on the local and national level regardless of prior BBYO involvement. Many Jewish Federations provide additional need-based and grant-based scholarship. Funding availability is limited, so you’ll want to apply early. Explore More

We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

DAY #1 | Monday, June 28, 2021 | The Journey Begins

  • Depart for Israel on a supervised overnight flight (optional)

DAY #2 | Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Baruch HaBah – Getting Oriented to Israel

  • Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport – Meet our Israeli staff team and the journey begins
  • Head south to the Negev Desert – where the history of the Jewish People began
  • Shehecheyanu! – Welcome ceremony at Tel Azeka overlooking the Ellah Valley, site of the David & Goliath story
  • Check-in to our accommodations, followed by orientation and dinner

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #3 | Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | The Desert Blooms

  • Morning hike to the hidden desert pools at Ein Avdat Canyon
  • Explore the world’s largest erosion crater at the Ramon Crater Visitor Center
  • Sde Boker – Learn about David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding leader, and his vision for the desert
  • Return to our accommodations for free time at the pool
  • Evening: Experience a traditional fresh-cooked “Poike Pot” meal in the desert

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #4 | Thursday, July 1, 2021 | Challenges and Adaptations

  • Wake up early to experience the thrill of sandboarding down natural dunes in the Negev Desert
  • Taste the wonders of Israel’s desert agriculture revolution at the Salad Trail Farm
  • Visit Netiv HaAsara on the frontier with Gaza, and learn how this community has adapted to its surroundings while maintaining a hopeful outlook
  • Afternoon encounter with Bedouin women entrepreneurs in the desert community of Lakiya
  • Travel to the Judean Desert for a desert tent dinner feast at Kfar Hanokdim encampment
  • Evening: Stargazing walk in the Judean Desert

OVERNIGHT: Judean Desert – Israel


DAY #5 | Friday, July 2, 2021 | Masada and Dead Sea

  • Pre-sunrise climb up Masada, a fortress overlooking the Dead Sea, via the Roman Ramp trail
  • Tour of Masada – Herod’s mountaintop desert fortress
  • Experience effortless floating at the Dead Sea – the lowest place on the planet!
  • Ascend to Jerusalem – Stopping for a panoramic view of Jerusalem at the Mt. Scopus overlook
  • Check-in to our accommodations and prepare for our first Shabbat together in Israel
  • Pre-Shabbat musical experience followed by Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the Jerusalem Hills

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #6 | Saturday, July 3, 2021 | A Song for the Sabbath Day

  • Shabbat programming and lunch at our accommodations
  • Guest Educator: The geo-politics of Israel in today’s Middle East
  • Afternoon: Pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah ceremony – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a group night out at Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street Pedestrian Mall

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #7 | Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Foundations of Jewish History in Jerusalem

  • Discover how King David established a Jewish capital at the City of David archeological complex, and then cool down splashing through Hezekiah’s underground aqueduct deep beneath the city
  • Enter the Old City’s Zion Gate and explore the ancient squares and rooftops of the historic Jewish Quarter
  • Break for lunch and personal exploration time in the Cardo area of the Jewish Quarter
  • Reflections at the Kotel – The Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site, and continue on to explore the Southern Wall excavations
  • Evening: Preparation for our Yad VaShem visit

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #8 | Monday, July 5, 2021 | Remembrance & Renewal

  • Yad Vashem– The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
  • Reflections over a picnic-style lunch at Jerusalem’s Mifletzet Park
  • Visit to the Kids 4 Peace center, an initiative in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah promoting co-existence among all of the city’s youth
  • Evening: Dinner at our accommodations followed by a t-shirt design activity with the NU Campaign – creative fashion for a cause

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #9 | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Northwards to the Galilee

  • Travel to Neot Kedumim Biblical Park for tree planting ceremony, leadership workshop and group cooked lunch
  • Depart the Jerusalem region and travel north to the Galilee
  • Tzippori National Park – Explore this extensive archaeological complex that was once home to the ancient Sanhedrin during the Exile Era
  • Continue north to the Galilee, stopping for our fist view of the Kinneret – the Sea of Galilee
  • Check-in and dinner at our accommodations in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #10 | Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | Mystics of the Galilee

  • Wander through the ancient city of Tzfat – The historic center of Judaism’s Kabbalah movement
  • Meet Kabbalistic artists, Avraham Lowenthal and Sheva Chaya – with free time to browse the Tzfat artists’ colony
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon at Aqua Kef and experience the thrill of this floating waterpark on the Sea of Galilee
  • Evening: BBQ dinner on the beach of the Sea of Galilee shores

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #11 | Thursday, July 8, 2021 | The Pioneering Heritage in the Galilee

  • Leket – Take part in a harvesting project for the hungry at Moshav Nahalal
  • Ascend Mount Gilboa for a strategic view of the Jezreal Valley, Israel’s most fertile region
  • Lunch at Kibbutz Nir-David and learn about its pioneering legacy
  • Cool-off swimming in the spring-fed waters of the Sachne – Israel’s “Garden of Eden”
  • Kinneret Courtyard & Cemetery – Honor the leadership of Israel’s early pioneers
  • Evening: Meet with a diverse panel of student leaders who call the Galilee home

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #12 | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Views from the Golan Heights

  • Morning – Ascend the Golan Heights, and hike down Nahal Jilaboun canyon
  • Evening: Encounter with Druze culture and share a traditional meal in the Golan village of Ein Kinya
  • Travel to the summit of Mt. Ben Tal for a view across the Golan and a look at Israel’s neighbors
  • Finish the day rafting down the upper Jordan River 
  • Evening: Mark the beginning of Shabbat with an outdoors Kabbalat Shabbat in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #13 | Saturday, July 10, 2021 | Shabbat on the Beach

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Tour of the kibbutz community and learn about the history of the kibbutz idea
  • Afternoon: Enjoy a relaxed Shabbat with pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah service – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a boat cruise on the Kinneret and group night out in Tiberias

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #14 | Sunday, July 11, 2021 | Israel’s Multi-Ethnic Society

  • Volunteer project with Pitchon Lev in Karmiel, one of Israel’s original “development cities”
  • Continue to the Mavrhatey Center where we will celebrate the unique culture of Ethiopian Jewry – participating in a traditional Buna coffee ceremony and cooking our own Ethiopian-style lunch
  • Arrive to Haifa – a model for co-existence in Israel – where we’ll tour the Bahai Temple Gardens and Ahmadiyya Mosque

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #15 | Monday, July 12, 2021 | Ingathering of the Exiles

  • Meet with Zev Kedem – A Holocaust Survivor on Schindler’s List
  • Zichron Yaakov – Walking tour of this community in the Carmel Mountains that was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and a band of pioneering Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 19th Century
  • Atlit detainee camp – Discover the fate that awaited many Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during the British Mandate Era
  • Afternoon – Free time to enjoy Haifa’s lively beach culture!
  • Evening: Mifgash (cross-cultural encounter) with Israeli teens from Maccabi Tza’ir – BBYO’s counterpart youth movement in Israel

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #16 | Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Establishing Modern Israel

  • Travel to Tel Aviv – Israel’s cultural and commercial capital
  • Tour and seminar at the Yitzhak Rabin Center – Learn about Israel’s most famous soldier and statesman
  • Enjoy the colorful Nahalat Binyamin street festival and explore the Carmel Market
  • Independence Hall – Visit the site where the State of Israel was first declared and learn about the Jewish State’s founding vision
  • Check-in and dinner at our Tel Aviv area accommodations
  • Evening: Attend a showing of “Not by Bread Alone” at Nalagaat – Israel’s groundbreaking theater troupe, comprised of deaf and blind actors

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #17 | Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | Tikkun Olam – Fixing the World with Hearts & Hands

  • Volunteer project with Eitan Special, a JDC-funded initiative, and take part in Krav Maga activities with their members
  • Take part in a variety of Leadership Labs across Tel Aviv
  • Evening: Dinner at our hotel followed by an innovation workshop with Gaya Games

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #18 | Thursday, July 15, 2021 | Leadership & Innovation in Tel Aviv

  • Tap into the spirit driving the story of modern Israel at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation
  • Take in the views from the ancient port city of Jaffa, and browse the colorful Jaffa flea market
  • Save a Child’s Heart– Meet children seeking lifesaving treatment in Israel from around the world
  • Afternoon: Return to Jerusalem and check-in to our city center accommodations
  • BBYO B’Yachad – Celebrate our summer in Israel together with all of the BBYO Passport groups

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #19 | Friday, July 16, 2021 | Security, Values & Israel’s Future

  • Travel to the West Bank/Judea for an encounter at the Roots Tent – Engage in a constructive dialogue of perspectives with a Jewish Settler and a Palestinian Arab who both call this Land home
  • Continue to Gush Etzion, the original West Bank settlement bloc and meet with Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat over lunch
  • Return to Jerusalem and grapple with Jerusalem’s security challenges at the separation barrier
  • Evening: Kabbalat Shabbat experience in Jerusalem followed by Shabbat dinner at our hotel

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #20 | Saturday, July 17, 2021 | A Reflective Shabbat in Jerusalem

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Walk to the Israel Museum to discover the Dead Sea Scrolls, Temple Model, and Israel’s most prized cultural and historic treasures
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun and reflecting on the journey at Jerusalem’s Saker Park
  • Havdalah ceremony – Celebrate the start of our final week together followed by a viewing of “Hero in Heaven” in preparation for our visit to Har Herzl
  • Evening: Final group night out at Jerusalem’s First Station market

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #21 | Sunday, July 18, 2021 | Bringing the Spirit of Israel Home

  • Late wake-up and prepare for our return flights
  • Herzl National Cemetery – Honoring Israel’s national leaders and fallen soldiers
  • Tour of the Knesset – Learn about Israel’s parliamentary system and how it safeguards the Jewish State’s democratic laws and traditions
  • Enjoy the sights and smells of Mahane Yehuda open-air food market and navigate the market with a “Shuk Bites” lunch card
  • Return to the Old City for final reflections at the Western Wall and for the opportunity to tour layers of Jerusalem history inside the Western Wall Tunnels
  • Evening: Wrap-up session and celebrate our time together in Israel at a closing banquet dinner party

OVERNIGHT: Return to Ben Gurion Airport for our overnight return flight


DAY #22 | Monday | Shalom and L’Hitraot!

  • Travelers on the group flight arrive back to North America in the morning

Have questions? We’re here to help! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available, and we encourage you to also review the Pre-Trip Prep Guide for our Israel programs. Schedule a call to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Your teen can travel to the program in multiple ways. The most common option is taking our supervised group flight, organized by our team. This flight often departs from the New York City area, and we may also provide group flights from other North American cities according to demand (e.g. LAX, SFO, ORD, BOS, NYC, YUL, and MIA). Flight arrangements will be released in the spring and you are responsible for your teen’s transportation to and from the departure location. If you choose to book on your own but correspond with the supervised flight itinerary, you have the option to use miles or points. Alternatively, you can book a separate flight for your teen that meets the group at the first location (additional fees may apply if a special pick-up/drop-off is needed). Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Many of the accommodations we stay at are kibbutz-based guest houses that are located in Israel’s countryside and provide space for exploration within a secure environment. We use conventional hotels when we stay in cities. During the Sea-to-Sea Hike and BaMidbar Wilderness Experience, our overnights will be in nature, and all camping gear (including sleeping bags) will be provided. Finally, all accommodations in Israel have security, and we book rooms so that each teen has their own bed in rooms that typically accommodate 3 or 4 teens per room.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) from North America and a local Israeli guide. They are joined by an armed guard and bus driver. Senior field staff circulates between the groups for extra support as well. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Feel free to ask them any remaining questions you may have. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from hot to hotter in the summer. Clothing should be lightweight and comfortable in the heat. Whenever outside for an extended period, teens will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. Overexposure to the hot Middle Eastern sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns. The good news is the heat is mostly dry – there is very little humidity, and the chance of rain in Israel during the summer is practically zero- no umbrellas needed! Evenings in Israel tend to get chilly quickly – frequently into the 50s or 60s. Because we will not always return to our accommodations to change before an evening activity, always bring a day-pack with a windbreaker, long-sleeved shirt, or light sweater. Layers are key! A more detailed guide to packing is provided in the Pre-Trip Prep Guide.

How do you approach security?
Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies and are centrally monitored by Israel’s Situation Room. Our itineraries are designed with caution in mind and our policies are calibrated to local conditions. Finally, each group is accompanied by trained staff and a licensed guard accompanies all touring-based activities. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety and security as well as more specific details about our Israel policies.

What’s the typical group size?
Although it varies from year to year, our average group size on ILSI is 120 teens, including European and Israeli teens. Our travel is organized as multiple distinct bus groups and each bus group is divided into educational communities. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have multiple parties from the same area register together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.
Note: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program in late spring.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals, and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. All food provided by BBYO Passport experiences in Israel is kosher. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program. Expect to eat Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods such as falafel, hummus, schnitzel, shakshouka, bourekas, and much more.

Will I need a visa?
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport – good news! – you don’t need a visa to enter Israel. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

If your teen is an Israeli citizen…
If your teen has dual citizenship, they must enter Israel with their Israeli passport. Your passport cannot expire within six months of the program start date in order to enter Israel. If your passport needs to be renewed, do so well in advance. Keep in mind, your teen should travel with both passports. Teens who are 17 years of age, have Israeli citizenship, and live in the USA, may have to arrange for release from service of the Israeli Army. We recommend that you reach out to the Israeli consulate in your state to confirm what is required to avoid issues while in Israel.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

BBYO makes it easy to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning, and self-discovery. Learn more about how connections work, and keep those summer memories going and going!

AMBASSADORS TO BULGARIA + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

POLAND JOURNEY +
ILSI

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A supervised connection
29 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

GERMANY & PRAGUE DISCOVERY + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

INT’L LEADERSHIP SEMINAR IN ISRAEL (ILSI)

ILSI is BBYO’s elite 3-week leadership program in Israel designed for BBYO members, and welcoming Jewish teens from around the world on a summer tradition spanning three generations.

INT’L LEADERSHIP SEMINAR IN ISRAEL (ILSI)

ILSI is BBYO’s elite 3-week leadership program in Israel designed for BBYO members, and welcoming Jewish teens from around the world on a summer tradition spanning three generations.

FUNDING FOR ISRAEL TRAVEL! New $3,000 RootOne voucher for teens traveling to Israel with BBYO, regardless of financial need. Available on a limited basis – Learn more and claim yours!

Travel alongside Jewish teens from around the world on International Leadership Seminar Israel, BBYO’s premier Israel experience.

Together you’ll explore Jerusalem, scale the heights of Masada, and tap into the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv. More than just a tour, ILSI is an opportunity for education and growth using the Land of Israel as a classroom. The program empowers teens to develop their leadership, form their own personal connection to Israel, and return home ready to extend the ILSI experience into a life-long journey!

NOTE: ILSI is designed with BBYO members in mind as an enrichment experience. Although most ILSI participants are BBYO members, ILSI is open to non-members who seek this type of program.

What Makes it ILSI?

It’s no coincidence ILSI has been the culmination of BBYO’s leadership experience for three generations. Here’s why!

Small-Group Learning

Although you’ll travel together as part of a larger community, ILSI is an intimate educational experience – with one senior educator attached to each cluster of ~20 teens. We divide further into smaller mishpacha (family) groups for processing and discussion.

Living Jewish Peoplehood

ILSI convenes Jewish teens from across North America and from around the world – including countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Latvia, Croatia, and Israel. This diversity is a unique opportunity to live the value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze (we’re all responsible for one another).

Jewish Leadership Modeling

ILSI highlights the stories of leaders who made key impacts on the course of Jewish history — figures like King David, Bar Kochba, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, Theodore Herzl, Hanna Senesh, David Ben Gurion, and Yitzhak Rabin. Their unique leadership approaches shed light on the past and inspire the future.

Connecting with Israeli Society

More than a tour, ILSI provides opportunities to connect with the people of Israel. You’ll meet with teens from Maccabi Tzair (BBYO’s sister movement in Israel), active-duty IDF soldiers, and a cross-section of ethnic and religious leaders. Israel is a vibrant county; you’ll get a taste of its rich diversity.

The Joy of a Summer in Israel

Raft down the Jordan River, sleep under the stars in the desert, hike down a lush canyon on the Golan, enjoy the Tel Aviv beachfront, explore colorful open-air markets, and swim in natural springs. You’ll return home with lifelong memories from a summer adventure in Israel.

EUROPEAN CONNECTIONS

ILSI can be experienced as a core 22-day program, or it can be extended with a connected experience in Europe prior to arriving in Israel (29-35 day program)

Program Highlights

For a more detailed view of the program, check out the Program Itinerary

Enrich your mind on topics ranging from Jewish philosophy to contemporary Zionist thought to geopolitical strategy
Put all your BBYO leadership skills to use in the Land of Israel, and grapple with the Jewish Homeland’s future
Travel with fellow Jewish teens from across the BBYO Global Network for a cross-cultural perspective
Spend a powerful Shabbat in the heart of Jerusalem and tap into the Jewish mystical tradition of Tzfat
Learn from a wide cross-section of dynamic thought leaders, artists, and religious figures
Walk in the footsteps of 4,000 years of Jewish history as we travel throughout Israel
Experience the beauty and power of the Kotel and Jerusalem’s walled Old City
Float in the Dead Sea, climb to the heights of Masada, and survey the region from the Golan Heights
Participate in meaningful community service projects and explore models for co-existence
Soak up the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv and enjoy its lively beach culture!

BBYO + Israel + You!

Each summer, we convene nearly all our Israel experiences for a massive celebration called BBYO B’Yachad (Hebrew for “togetherness”). True to its name, the event unites an international community of Jewish teens from across North America and countries as diverse as France, Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, Turkey, Latvia, and Singapore. Join us for the party of the summer in Israel!

Travel to Israel presents a unique opportunity for teens to form a personal connection to our history and to experience their Judaism from a new perspective. But why go to Israel in high school? We believe and studies have shown that a multi-week experience in Israel during the high school years can have a profound impact on the development of an enduring and fulfilling Jewish identity. Explore More

Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies, and itineraries are designed with caution in mind. Each group is accompanied by a licensed medic/guard and trained staff who supervise the teens. Explore More

We believe all Jewish teens should experience Israel during their formative high school years. To that end, we provide need-based scholarships on the local and national level regardless of prior BBYO involvement. Many Jewish Federations provide additional need-based and grant-based scholarship. Funding availability is limited, so you’ll want to apply early. Explore More

We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

DAY #1 | Monday, June 28, 2021 | The Journey Begins

  • Depart for Israel on a supervised overnight flight (optional)

DAY #2 | Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Baruch HaBah – Getting Oriented to Israel

  • Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport – Meet our Israeli staff team and the journey begins
  • Head south to the Negev Desert – where the history of the Jewish People began
  • Shehecheyanu! – Welcome ceremony at Tel Azeka overlooking the Ellah Valley, site of the David & Goliath story
  • Check-in to our accommodations, followed by orientation and dinner

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #3 | Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | The Desert Blooms

  • Morning hike to the hidden desert pools at Ein Avdat Canyon
  • Explore the world’s largest erosion crater at the Ramon Crater Visitor Center
  • Sde Boker – Learn about David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding leader, and his vision for the desert
  • Return to our accommodations for free time at the pool
  • Evening: Experience a traditional fresh-cooked “Poike Pot” meal in the desert

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #4 | Thursday, July 1, 2021 | Challenges and Adaptations

  • Wake up early to experience the thrill of sandboarding down natural dunes in the Negev Desert
  • Taste the wonders of Israel’s desert agriculture revolution at the Salad Trail Farm
  • Visit Netiv HaAsara on the frontier with Gaza, and learn how this community has adapted to its surroundings while maintaining a hopeful outlook
  • Afternoon encounter with Bedouin women entrepreneurs in the desert community of Lakiya
  • Travel to the Judean Desert for a desert tent dinner feast at Kfar Hanokdim encampment
  • Evening: Stargazing walk in the Judean Desert

OVERNIGHT: Judean Desert – Israel


DAY #5 | Friday, July 2, 2021 | Masada and Dead Sea

  • Pre-sunrise climb up Masada, a fortress overlooking the Dead Sea, via the Roman Ramp trail
  • Tour of Masada – Herod’s mountaintop desert fortress
  • Experience effortless floating at the Dead Sea – the lowest place on the planet!
  • Ascend to Jerusalem – Stopping for a panoramic view of Jerusalem at the Mt. Scopus overlook
  • Check-in to our accommodations and prepare for our first Shabbat together in Israel
  • Pre-Shabbat musical experience followed by Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the Jerusalem Hills

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #6 | Saturday, July 3, 2021 | A Song for the Sabbath Day

  • Shabbat programming and lunch at our accommodations
  • Guest Educator: The geo-politics of Israel in today’s Middle East
  • Afternoon: Pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah ceremony – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a group night out at Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street Pedestrian Mall

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #7 | Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Foundations of Jewish History in Jerusalem

  • Discover how King David established a Jewish capital at the City of David archeological complex, and then cool down splashing through Hezekiah’s underground aqueduct deep beneath the city
  • Enter the Old City’s Zion Gate and explore the ancient squares and rooftops of the historic Jewish Quarter
  • Break for lunch and personal exploration time in the Cardo area of the Jewish Quarter
  • Reflections at the Kotel – The Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site, and continue on to explore the Southern Wall excavations
  • Evening: Preparation for our Yad VaShem visit

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #8 | Monday, July 5, 2021 | Remembrance & Renewal

  • Yad Vashem– The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
  • Reflections over a picnic-style lunch at Jerusalem’s Mifletzet Park
  • Visit to the Kids 4 Peace center, an initiative in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah promoting co-existence among all of the city’s youth
  • Evening: Dinner at our accommodations followed by a t-shirt design activity with the NU Campaign – creative fashion for a cause

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #9 | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Northwards to the Galilee

  • Travel to Neot Kedumim Biblical Park for tree planting ceremony, leadership workshop and group cooked lunch
  • Depart the Jerusalem region and travel north to the Galilee
  • Tzippori National Park – Explore this extensive archaeological complex that was once home to the ancient Sanhedrin during the Exile Era
  • Continue north to the Galilee, stopping for our fist view of the Kinneret – the Sea of Galilee
  • Check-in and dinner at our accommodations in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #10 | Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | Mystics of the Galilee

  • Wander through the ancient city of Tzfat – The historic center of Judaism’s Kabbalah movement
  • Meet Kabbalistic artists, Avraham Lowenthal and Sheva Chaya – with free time to browse the Tzfat artists’ colony
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon at Aqua Kef and experience the thrill of this floating waterpark on the Sea of Galilee
  • Evening: BBQ dinner on the beach of the Sea of Galilee shores

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #11 | Thursday, July 8, 2021 | The Pioneering Heritage in the Galilee

  • Leket – Take part in a harvesting project for the hungry at Moshav Nahalal
  • Ascend Mount Gilboa for a strategic view of the Jezreal Valley, Israel’s most fertile region
  • Lunch at Kibbutz Nir-David and learn about its pioneering legacy
  • Cool-off swimming in the spring-fed waters of the Sachne – Israel’s “Garden of Eden”
  • Kinneret Courtyard & Cemetery – Honor the leadership of Israel’s early pioneers
  • Evening: Meet with a diverse panel of student leaders who call the Galilee home

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #12 | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Views from the Golan Heights

  • Morning – Ascend the Golan Heights, and hike down Nahal Jilaboun canyon
  • Evening: Encounter with Druze culture and share a traditional meal in the Golan village of Ein Kinya
  • Travel to the summit of Mt. Ben Tal for a view across the Golan and a look at Israel’s neighbors
  • Finish the day rafting down the upper Jordan River 
  • Evening: Mark the beginning of Shabbat with an outdoors Kabbalat Shabbat in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #13 | Saturday, July 10, 2021 | Shabbat on the Beach

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Tour of the kibbutz community and learn about the history of the kibbutz idea
  • Afternoon: Enjoy a relaxed Shabbat with pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah service – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a boat cruise on the Kinneret and group night out in Tiberias

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #14 | Sunday, July 11, 2021 | Israel’s Multi-Ethnic Society

  • Volunteer project with Pitchon Lev in Karmiel, one of Israel’s original “development cities”
  • Continue to the Mavrhatey Center where we will celebrate the unique culture of Ethiopian Jewry – participating in a traditional Buna coffee ceremony and cooking our own Ethiopian-style lunch
  • Arrive to Haifa – a model for co-existence in Israel – where we’ll tour the Bahai Temple Gardens and Ahmadiyya Mosque

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #15 | Monday, July 12, 2021 | Ingathering of the Exiles

  • Meet with Zev Kedem – A Holocaust Survivor on Schindler’s List
  • Zichron Yaakov – Walking tour of this community in the Carmel Mountains that was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and a band of pioneering Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 19th Century
  • Atlit detainee camp – Discover the fate that awaited many Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during the British Mandate Era
  • Afternoon – Free time to enjoy Haifa’s lively beach culture!
  • Evening: Mifgash (cross-cultural encounter) with Israeli teens from Maccabi Tza’ir – BBYO’s counterpart youth movement in Israel

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #16 | Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Establishing Modern Israel

  • Travel to Tel Aviv – Israel’s cultural and commercial capital
  • Tour and seminar at the Yitzhak Rabin Center – Learn about Israel’s most famous soldier and statesman
  • Enjoy the colorful Nahalat Binyamin street festival and explore the Carmel Market
  • Independence Hall – Visit the site where the State of Israel was first declared and learn about the Jewish State’s founding vision
  • Check-in and dinner at our Tel Aviv area accommodations
  • Evening: Attend a showing of “Not by Bread Alone” at Nalagaat – Israel’s groundbreaking theater troupe, comprised of deaf and blind actors

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #17 | Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | Tikkun Olam – Fixing the World with Hearts & Hands

  • Volunteer project with Eitan Special, a JDC-funded initiative, and take part in Krav Maga activities with their members
  • Take part in a variety of Leadership Labs across Tel Aviv
  • Evening: Dinner at our hotel followed by an innovation workshop with Gaya Games

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #18 | Thursday, July 15, 2021 | Leadership & Innovation in Tel Aviv

  • Tap into the spirit driving the story of modern Israel at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation
  • Take in the views from the ancient port city of Jaffa, and browse the colorful Jaffa flea market
  • Save a Child’s Heart– Meet children seeking lifesaving treatment in Israel from around the world
  • Afternoon: Return to Jerusalem and check-in to our city center accommodations
  • BBYO B’Yachad – Celebrate our summer in Israel together with all of the BBYO Passport groups

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #19 | Friday, July 16, 2021 | Security, Values & Israel’s Future

  • Travel to the West Bank/Judea for an encounter at the Roots Tent – Engage in a constructive dialogue of perspectives with a Jewish Settler and a Palestinian Arab who both call this Land home
  • Continue to Gush Etzion, the original West Bank settlement bloc and meet with Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat over lunch
  • Return to Jerusalem and grapple with Jerusalem’s security challenges at the separation barrier
  • Evening: Kabbalat Shabbat experience in Jerusalem followed by Shabbat dinner at our hotel

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #20 | Saturday, July 17, 2021 | A Reflective Shabbat in Jerusalem

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Walk to the Israel Museum to discover the Dead Sea Scrolls, Temple Model, and Israel’s most prized cultural and historic treasures
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun and reflecting on the journey at Jerusalem’s Saker Park
  • Havdalah ceremony – Celebrate the start of our final week together followed by a viewing of “Hero in Heaven” in preparation for our visit to Har Herzl
  • Evening: Final group night out at Jerusalem’s First Station market

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #21 | Sunday, July 18, 2021 | Bringing the Spirit of Israel Home

  • Late wake-up and prepare for our return flights
  • Herzl National Cemetery – Honoring Israel’s national leaders and fallen soldiers
  • Tour of the Knesset – Learn about Israel’s parliamentary system and how it safeguards the Jewish State’s democratic laws and traditions
  • Enjoy the sights and smells of Mahane Yehuda open-air food market and navigate the market with a “Shuk Bites” lunch card
  • Return to the Old City for final reflections at the Western Wall and for the opportunity to tour layers of Jerusalem history inside the Western Wall Tunnels
  • Evening: Wrap-up session and celebrate our time together in Israel at a closing banquet dinner party

OVERNIGHT: Return to Ben Gurion Airport for our overnight return flight


DAY #22 | Monday | Shalom and L’Hitraot!

  • Travelers on the group flight arrive back to North America in the morning

Have questions? We’re here to help! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available, and we encourage you to also review the Pre-Trip Prep Guide for our Israel programs. Schedule a call to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Your teen can travel to the program in multiple ways. The most common option is taking our supervised group flight, organized by our team. This flight often departs from the New York City area, and we may also provide group flights from other North American cities according to demand (e.g. LAX, SFO, ORD, BOS, NYC, YUL, and MIA). Flight arrangements will be released in the spring and you are responsible for your teen’s transportation to and from the departure location. If you choose to book on your own but correspond with the supervised flight itinerary, you have the option to use miles or points. Alternatively, you can book a separate flight for your teen that meets the group at the first location (additional fees may apply if a special pick-up/drop-off is needed). Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Many of the accommodations we stay at are kibbutz-based guest houses that are located in Israel’s countryside and provide space for exploration within a secure environment. We use conventional hotels when we stay in cities. During the Sea-to-Sea Hike and BaMidbar Wilderness Experience, our overnights will be in nature, and all camping gear (including sleeping bags) will be provided. Finally, all accommodations in Israel have security, and we book rooms so that each teen has their own bed in rooms that typically accommodate 3 or 4 teens per room.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) from North America and a local Israeli guide. They are joined by an armed guard and bus driver. Senior field staff circulates between the groups for extra support as well. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Feel free to ask them any remaining questions you may have. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from hot to hotter in the summer. Clothing should be lightweight and comfortable in the heat. Whenever outside for an extended period, teens will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. Overexposure to the hot Middle Eastern sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns. The good news is the heat is mostly dry – there is very little humidity, and the chance of rain in Israel during the summer is practically zero- no umbrellas needed! Evenings in Israel tend to get chilly quickly – frequently into the 50s or 60s. Because we will not always return to our accommodations to change before an evening activity, always bring a day-pack with a windbreaker, long-sleeved shirt, or light sweater. Layers are key! A more detailed guide to packing is provided in the Pre-Trip Prep Guide.

How do you approach security?
Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies and are centrally monitored by Israel’s Situation Room. Our itineraries are designed with caution in mind and our policies are calibrated to local conditions. Finally, each group is accompanied by trained staff and a licensed guard accompanies all touring-based activities. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety and security as well as more specific details about our Israel policies.

What’s the typical group size?
Although it varies from year to year, our average group size on ILSI is 120 teens, including European and Israeli teens. Our travel is organized as multiple distinct bus groups and each bus group is divided into educational communities. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have multiple parties from the same area register together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.
Note: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program in late spring.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals, and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. All food provided by BBYO Passport experiences in Israel is kosher. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program. Expect to eat Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods such as falafel, hummus, schnitzel, shakshouka, bourekas, and much more.

Will I need a visa?
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport – good news! – you don’t need a visa to enter Israel. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

If your teen is an Israeli citizen…
If your teen has dual citizenship, they must enter Israel with their Israeli passport. Your passport cannot expire within six months of the program start date in order to enter Israel. If your passport needs to be renewed, do so well in advance. Keep in mind, your teen should travel with both passports. Teens who are 17 years of age, have Israeli citizenship, and live in the USA, may have to arrange for release from service of the Israeli Army. We recommend that you reach out to the Israeli consulate in your state to confirm what is required to avoid issues while in Israel.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

BBYO makes it easy to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning, and self-discovery. Learn more about how connections work, and keep those summer memories going and going!

AMBASSADORS TO BULGARIA + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

POLAND JOURNEY +
ILSI

Central-Europe-Discovery-Slider-1

A supervised connection
29 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

GERMANY & PRAGUE DISCOVERY + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

We know you'll love a BBYO Passport experience. But don't just take our word. Check out these real reviews from our past travelers and families.

 

FUNDING FOR ISRAEL TRAVEL! New $3,000 RootOne voucher for teens traveling to Israel with BBYO, regardless of financial need. Available on a limited basis – Learn more and claim yours!

Travel alongside Jewish teens from around the world on International Leadership Seminar Israel, BBYO’s premier Israel experience.

Together you’ll explore Jerusalem, scale the heights of Masada, and tap into the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv. More than just a tour, ILSI is an opportunity for education and growth using the Land of Israel as a classroom. The program empowers teens to develop their leadership, form their own personal connection to Israel, and return home ready to extend the ILSI experience into a life-long journey!

NOTE: ILSI is designed with BBYO members in mind as an enrichment experience. Although most ILSI participants are BBYO members, ILSI is open to non-members who seek this type of program.

What Makes it ILSI?

It’s no coincidence ILSI has been the culmination of BBYO’s leadership experience for three generations. Here’s why!

Small-Group Learning

Although you’ll travel together as part of a larger community, ILSI is an intimate educational experience – with one senior educator attached to each cluster of ~20 teens. We divide further into smaller mishpacha (family) groups for processing and discussion.

Living Jewish Peoplehood

ILSI convenes Jewish teens from across North America and from around the world – including countries like Bulgaria, Turkey, Serbia, Latvia, Croatia, and Israel. This diversity is a unique opportunity to live the value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze (we’re all responsible for one another).

Jewish Leadership Modeling

ILSI highlights the stories of leaders who made key impacts on the course of Jewish history — figures like King David, Bar Kochba, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, Theodore Herzl, Hanna Senesh, David Ben Gurion, and Yitzhak Rabin. Their unique leadership approaches shed light on the past and inspire the future.

Connecting with Israeli Society

More than a tour, ILSI provides opportunities to connect with the people of Israel. You’ll meet with teens from Maccabi Tzair (BBYO’s sister movement in Israel), active-duty IDF soldiers, and a cross-section of ethnic and religious leaders. Israel is a vibrant county; you’ll get a taste of its rich diversity.

The Joy of a Summer in Israel

Raft down the Jordan River, sleep under the stars in the desert, hike down a lush canyon on the Golan, enjoy the Tel Aviv beachfront, explore colorful open-air markets, and swim in natural springs. You’ll return home with lifelong memories from a summer adventure in Israel.

EUROPEAN CONNECTIONS

ILSI can be experienced as a core 22-day program, or it can be extended with a connected experience in Europe prior to arriving in Israel (29-35 day program)

Program Highlights

For a more detailed view of the program, check out the Program Itinerary

Enrich your mind on topics ranging from Jewish philosophy to contemporary Zionist thought to geopolitical strategy
Put all your BBYO leadership skills to use in the Land of Israel, and grapple with the Jewish Homeland’s future
Travel with fellow Jewish teens from across the BBYO Global Network for a cross-cultural perspective
Spend a powerful Shabbat in the heart of Jerusalem and tap into the Jewish mystical tradition of Tzfat
Learn from a wide cross-section of dynamic thought leaders, artists, and religious figures
Walk in the footsteps of 4,000 years of Jewish history as we travel throughout Israel
Experience the beauty and power of the Kotel and Jerusalem’s walled Old City
Float in the Dead Sea, climb to the heights of Masada, and survey the region from the Golan Heights
Participate in meaningful community service projects and explore models for co-existence
Soak up the innovative spirit of Tel Aviv and enjoy its lively beach culture!

BBYO + Israel + You!

Each summer, we convene nearly all our Israel experiences for a massive celebration called BBYO B’Yachad (Hebrew for “togetherness”). True to its name, the event unites an international community of Jewish teens from across North America and countries as diverse as France, Bulgaria, Mexico, Australia, Switzerland, Turkey, Latvia, and Singapore. Join us for the party of the summer in Israel!

Travel to Israel presents a unique opportunity for teens to form a personal connection to our history and to experience their Judaism from a new perspective. But why go to Israel in high school? We believe and studies have shown that a multi-week experience in Israel during the high school years can have a profound impact on the development of an enduring and fulfilling Jewish identity. Explore More

Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies, and itineraries are designed with caution in mind. Each group is accompanied by a licensed medic/guard and trained staff who supervise the teens. Explore More

We believe all Jewish teens should experience Israel during their formative high school years. To that end, we provide need-based scholarships on the local and national level regardless of prior BBYO involvement. Many Jewish Federations provide additional need-based and grant-based scholarship. Funding availability is limited, so you’ll want to apply early. Explore More

We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary including confirmed accommodations is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

DAY #1 | Monday, June 28, 2021 | The Journey Begins

  • Depart for Israel on a supervised overnight flight (optional)

DAY #2 | Tuesday, June 29, 2021 | Baruch HaBah – Getting Oriented to Israel

  • Arrive at Ben Gurion Airport – Meet our Israeli staff team and the journey begins
  • Head south to the Negev Desert – where the history of the Jewish People began
  • Shehecheyanu! – Welcome ceremony at Tel Azeka overlooking the Ellah Valley, site of the David & Goliath story
  • Check-in to our accommodations, followed by orientation and dinner

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #3 | Wednesday, June 30, 2021 | The Desert Blooms

  • Morning hike to the hidden desert pools at Ein Avdat Canyon
  • Explore the world’s largest erosion crater at the Ramon Crater Visitor Center
  • Sde Boker – Learn about David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding leader, and his vision for the desert
  • Return to our accommodations for free time at the pool
  • Evening: Experience a traditional fresh-cooked “Poike Pot” meal in the desert

OVERNIGHT: Negev Desert – Israel


DAY #4 | Thursday, July 1, 2021 | Challenges and Adaptations

  • Wake up early to experience the thrill of sandboarding down natural dunes in the Negev Desert
  • Taste the wonders of Israel’s desert agriculture revolution at the Salad Trail Farm
  • Visit Netiv HaAsara on the frontier with Gaza, and learn how this community has adapted to its surroundings while maintaining a hopeful outlook
  • Afternoon encounter with Bedouin women entrepreneurs in the desert community of Lakiya
  • Travel to the Judean Desert for a desert tent dinner feast at Kfar Hanokdim encampment
  • Evening: Stargazing walk in the Judean Desert

OVERNIGHT: Judean Desert – Israel


DAY #5 | Friday, July 2, 2021 | Masada and Dead Sea

  • Pre-sunrise climb up Masada, a fortress overlooking the Dead Sea, via the Roman Ramp trail
  • Tour of Masada – Herod’s mountaintop desert fortress
  • Experience effortless floating at the Dead Sea – the lowest place on the planet!
  • Ascend to Jerusalem – Stopping for a panoramic view of Jerusalem at the Mt. Scopus overlook
  • Check-in to our accommodations and prepare for our first Shabbat together in Israel
  • Pre-Shabbat musical experience followed by Kabbalat Shabbat overlooking the Jerusalem Hills

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #6 | Saturday, July 3, 2021 | A Song for the Sabbath Day

  • Shabbat programming and lunch at our accommodations
  • Guest Educator: The geo-politics of Israel in today’s Middle East
  • Afternoon: Pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah ceremony – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a group night out at Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street Pedestrian Mall

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #7 | Sunday, July 4, 2021 | Foundations of Jewish History in Jerusalem

  • Discover how King David established a Jewish capital at the City of David archeological complex, and then cool down splashing through Hezekiah’s underground aqueduct deep beneath the city
  • Enter the Old City’s Zion Gate and explore the ancient squares and rooftops of the historic Jewish Quarter
  • Break for lunch and personal exploration time in the Cardo area of the Jewish Quarter
  • Reflections at the Kotel – The Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site, and continue on to explore the Southern Wall excavations
  • Evening: Preparation for our Yad VaShem visit

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #8 | Monday, July 5, 2021 | Remembrance & Renewal

  • Yad Vashem– The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
  • Reflections over a picnic-style lunch at Jerusalem’s Mifletzet Park
  • Visit to the Kids 4 Peace center, an initiative in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah promoting co-existence among all of the city’s youth
  • Evening: Dinner at our accommodations followed by a t-shirt design activity with the NU Campaign – creative fashion for a cause

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem Hills – Israel


DAY #9 | Tuesday, July 6, 2021 | Northwards to the Galilee

  • Travel to Neot Kedumim Biblical Park for tree planting ceremony, leadership workshop and group cooked lunch
  • Depart the Jerusalem region and travel north to the Galilee
  • Tzippori National Park – Explore this extensive archaeological complex that was once home to the ancient Sanhedrin during the Exile Era
  • Continue north to the Galilee, stopping for our fist view of the Kinneret – the Sea of Galilee
  • Check-in and dinner at our accommodations in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #10 | Wednesday, July 7, 2021 | Mystics of the Galilee

  • Wander through the ancient city of Tzfat – The historic center of Judaism’s Kabbalah movement
  • Meet Kabbalistic artists, Avraham Lowenthal and Sheva Chaya – with free time to browse the Tzfat artists’ colony
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon at Aqua Kef and experience the thrill of this floating waterpark on the Sea of Galilee
  • Evening: BBQ dinner on the beach of the Sea of Galilee shores

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #11 | Thursday, July 8, 2021 | The Pioneering Heritage in the Galilee

  • Leket – Take part in a harvesting project for the hungry at Moshav Nahalal
  • Ascend Mount Gilboa for a strategic view of the Jezreal Valley, Israel’s most fertile region
  • Lunch at Kibbutz Nir-David and learn about its pioneering legacy
  • Cool-off swimming in the spring-fed waters of the Sachne – Israel’s “Garden of Eden”
  • Kinneret Courtyard & Cemetery – Honor the leadership of Israel’s early pioneers
  • Evening: Meet with a diverse panel of student leaders who call the Galilee home

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #12 | Friday, July 9, 2021 | Views from the Golan Heights

  • Morning – Ascend the Golan Heights, and hike down Nahal Jilaboun canyon
  • Evening: Encounter with Druze culture and share a traditional meal in the Golan village of Ein Kinya
  • Travel to the summit of Mt. Ben Tal for a view across the Golan and a look at Israel’s neighbors
  • Finish the day rafting down the upper Jordan River 
  • Evening: Mark the beginning of Shabbat with an outdoors Kabbalat Shabbat in the Galilee

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #13 | Saturday, July 10, 2021 | Shabbat on the Beach

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Tour of the kibbutz community and learn about the history of the kibbutz idea
  • Afternoon: Enjoy a relaxed Shabbat with pool, sports, and free time!
  • Evening: Havdalah service – celebrate the start of a new week followed by a boat cruise on the Kinneret and group night out in Tiberias

OVERNIGHT: Galilee – Israel


DAY #14 | Sunday, July 11, 2021 | Israel’s Multi-Ethnic Society

  • Volunteer project with Pitchon Lev in Karmiel, one of Israel’s original “development cities”
  • Continue to the Mavrhatey Center where we will celebrate the unique culture of Ethiopian Jewry – participating in a traditional Buna coffee ceremony and cooking our own Ethiopian-style lunch
  • Arrive to Haifa – a model for co-existence in Israel – where we’ll tour the Bahai Temple Gardens and Ahmadiyya Mosque

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #15 | Monday, July 12, 2021 | Ingathering of the Exiles

  • Meet with Zev Kedem – A Holocaust Survivor on Schindler’s List
  • Zichron Yaakov – Walking tour of this community in the Carmel Mountains that was founded by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild and a band of pioneering Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 19th Century
  • Atlit detainee camp – Discover the fate that awaited many Jewish refugees fleeing Europe during the British Mandate Era
  • Afternoon – Free time to enjoy Haifa’s lively beach culture!
  • Evening: Mifgash (cross-cultural encounter) with Israeli teens from Maccabi Tza’ir – BBYO’s counterpart youth movement in Israel

OVERNIGHT: Haifa – Israel


DAY #16 | Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Establishing Modern Israel

  • Travel to Tel Aviv – Israel’s cultural and commercial capital
  • Tour and seminar at the Yitzhak Rabin Center – Learn about Israel’s most famous soldier and statesman
  • Enjoy the colorful Nahalat Binyamin street festival and explore the Carmel Market
  • Independence Hall – Visit the site where the State of Israel was first declared and learn about the Jewish State’s founding vision
  • Check-in and dinner at our Tel Aviv area accommodations
  • Evening: Attend a showing of “Not by Bread Alone” at Nalagaat – Israel’s groundbreaking theater troupe, comprised of deaf and blind actors

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #17 | Wednesday, July 14, 2021 | Tikkun Olam – Fixing the World with Hearts & Hands

  • Volunteer project with Eitan Special, a JDC-funded initiative, and take part in Krav Maga activities with their members
  • Take part in a variety of Leadership Labs across Tel Aviv
  • Evening: Dinner at our hotel followed by an innovation workshop with Gaya Games

OVERNIGHT: Tel Aviv – Israel


DAY #18 | Thursday, July 15, 2021 | Leadership & Innovation in Tel Aviv

  • Tap into the spirit driving the story of modern Israel at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation
  • Take in the views from the ancient port city of Jaffa, and browse the colorful Jaffa flea market
  • Save a Child’s Heart– Meet children seeking lifesaving treatment in Israel from around the world
  • Afternoon: Return to Jerusalem and check-in to our city center accommodations
  • BBYO B’Yachad – Celebrate our summer in Israel together with all of the BBYO Passport groups

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #19 | Friday, July 16, 2021 | Security, Values & Israel’s Future

  • Travel to the West Bank/Judea for an encounter at the Roots Tent – Engage in a constructive dialogue of perspectives with a Jewish Settler and a Palestinian Arab who both call this Land home
  • Continue to Gush Etzion, the original West Bank settlement bloc and meet with Oded Revivi, mayor of Efrat over lunch
  • Return to Jerusalem and grapple with Jerusalem’s security challenges at the separation barrier
  • Evening: Kabbalat Shabbat experience in Jerusalem followed by Shabbat dinner at our hotel

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #20 | Saturday, July 17, 2021 | A Reflective Shabbat in Jerusalem

  • Morning: Shabbat programming and group lunch at our accommodations
  • Walk to the Israel Museum to discover the Dead Sea Scrolls, Temple Model, and Israel’s most prized cultural and historic treasures
  • Spend the rest of the afternoon soaking up the sun and reflecting on the journey at Jerusalem’s Saker Park
  • Havdalah ceremony – Celebrate the start of our final week together followed by a viewing of “Hero in Heaven” in preparation for our visit to Har Herzl
  • Evening: Final group night out at Jerusalem’s First Station market

OVERNIGHT: Jerusalem – Israel


DAY #21 | Sunday, July 18, 2021 | Bringing the Spirit of Israel Home

  • Late wake-up and prepare for our return flights
  • Herzl National Cemetery – Honoring Israel’s national leaders and fallen soldiers
  • Tour of the Knesset – Learn about Israel’s parliamentary system and how it safeguards the Jewish State’s democratic laws and traditions
  • Enjoy the sights and smells of Mahane Yehuda open-air food market and navigate the market with a “Shuk Bites” lunch card
  • Return to the Old City for final reflections at the Western Wall and for the opportunity to tour layers of Jerusalem history inside the Western Wall Tunnels
  • Evening: Wrap-up session and celebrate our time together in Israel at a closing banquet dinner party

OVERNIGHT: Return to Ben Gurion Airport for our overnight return flight


DAY #22 | Monday | Shalom and L’Hitraot!

  • Travelers on the group flight arrive back to North America in the morning

Have questions? We’re here to help! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available, and we encourage you to also review the Pre-Trip Prep Guide for our Israel programs. Schedule a call to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
Your teen can travel to the program in multiple ways. The most common option is taking our supervised group flight, organized by our team. This flight often departs from the New York City area, and we may also provide group flights from other North American cities according to demand (e.g. LAX, SFO, ORD, BOS, NYC, YUL, and MIA). Flight arrangements will be released in the spring and you are responsible for your teen’s transportation to and from the departure location. If you choose to book on your own but correspond with the supervised flight itinerary, you have the option to use miles or points. Alternatively, you can book a separate flight for your teen that meets the group at the first location (additional fees may apply if a special pick-up/drop-off is needed). Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
Many of the accommodations we stay at are kibbutz-based guest houses that are located in Israel’s countryside and provide space for exploration within a secure environment. We use conventional hotels when we stay in cities. During the Sea-to-Sea Hike and BaMidbar Wilderness Experience, our overnights will be in nature, and all camping gear (including sleeping bags) will be provided. Finally, all accommodations in Israel have security, and we book rooms so that each teen has their own bed in rooms that typically accommodate 3 or 4 teens per room.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) from North America and a local Israeli guide. They are joined by an armed guard and bus driver. Senior field staff circulates between the groups for extra support as well. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff are asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. Feel free to ask them any remaining questions you may have. Learn more about our staff team.

What’s the summer weather like?
Temperatures range from hot to hotter in the summer. Clothing should be lightweight and comfortable in the heat. Whenever outside for an extended period, teens will be required to have a hat, a shirt with sleeves, sunscreen, and water. Overexposure to the hot Middle Eastern sun can cause heatstroke, dehydration, and sunburns. The good news is the heat is mostly dry – there is very little humidity, and the chance of rain in Israel during the summer is practically zero- no umbrellas needed! Evenings in Israel tend to get chilly quickly – frequently into the 50s or 60s. Because we will not always return to our accommodations to change before an evening activity, always bring a day-pack with a windbreaker, long-sleeved shirt, or light sweater. Layers are key! A more detailed guide to packing is provided in the Pre-Trip Prep Guide.

How do you approach security?
Since 1956, BBYO has organized teen programs in Israel with a fundamental commitment to providing a safe and meaningful experience. Our programs adhere to Israel’s comprehensive security policies and are centrally monitored by Israel’s Situation Room. Our itineraries are designed with caution in mind and our policies are calibrated to local conditions. Finally, each group is accompanied by trained staff and a licensed guard accompanies all touring-based activities. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety and security as well as more specific details about our Israel policies.

What’s the typical group size?
Although it varies from year to year, our average group size on ILSI is 120 teens, including European and Israeli teens. Our travel is organized as multiple distinct bus groups and each bus group is divided into educational communities. Some teens choose to sign up together with a friend or two, and most teens choose to come on their own. Either way, our participants will have the opportunity to meet a diverse group of peers from various locations across North America which makes exploring a new place together even more exciting. On some programs, we might have multiple parties from the same area register together. In this case, we are unable to inform families when this occurs and though we are always willing to share the group dynamics of the current registrations, we typically have a good idea of the general group make up after our cancellation deadline.
Note: There will be a way for teens to communicate with each other before the program in late spring.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals, and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. All food provided by BBYO Passport experiences in Israel is kosher. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs during the program. Expect to eat Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods such as falafel, hummus, schnitzel, shakshouka, bourekas, and much more.

Will I need a visa?
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport – good news! – you don’t need a visa to enter Israel. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

If your teen is an Israeli citizen…
If your teen has dual citizenship, they must enter Israel with their Israeli passport. Your passport cannot expire within six months of the program start date in order to enter Israel. If your passport needs to be renewed, do so well in advance. Keep in mind, your teen should travel with both passports. Teens who are 17 years of age, have Israeli citizenship, and live in the USA, may have to arrange for release from service of the Israeli Army. We recommend that you reach out to the Israeli consulate in your state to confirm what is required to avoid issues while in Israel.

For more information, check out our general FAQs.

BBYO makes it easy to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning, and self-discovery. Learn more about how connections work, and keep those summer memories going and going!

AMBASSADORS TO BULGARIA + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

POLAND JOURNEY +
ILSI

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A supervised connection
29 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

GERMANY & PRAGUE DISCOVERY + ILSI

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A supervised connection
30 Days | Current 10-12th Graders

Connection Dates
June 21 – July 19, 2021
June 28 – July 26, 2021
July 5 – August 2, 2021

Connected Program Cost
Land Cost: $7,520 (pre-voucher)
Flight Cost: ~$1,700 (more)

SIGN UP

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

SUMMER 2021 JUST GOT MORE AFFORDABLE!NEW $3,000 ROOTONE ISRAEL TRAVEL VOUCHER

The joy of a summer in Israel has never been more accessible. Voucher availability is limited – claim yours!

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