LIVE IN JERUSALEM –
Be part of a community
The Yeshiva strongly recommends that all students not holding Israeli citizenship apply for an A2 student visa before you come to Israel. You will most likely need to go to the local Israeli consulate or embassy, but call to see if this can be done by mail or fax. You will need:
- Your acceptance letter from the Conservative Yeshiva (on official letterhead) stating that you will be a student during the academic year. Your name should appear exactly as it does on your passport.
- A copy of your Masa award letter if you are the recipient of a MASA scholarship or grant.
Check the Israeli Consulate website for full requirements; some consulates, especially in countries outside of North America, ALSO require proof of Jewishness / rights under the Law of Return.
The procedure may take several weeks, so apply early. The visa will be valid for one year.
A ballpark figure is about $550-750 per month for rent, municipal residence taxes (arnona), building maintenance fees (va’ad bayit), utilities, medical insurance, and other incidentals.
One who only goes to free events, hosts infrequently, shops in bulk, walks or takes buses, and cooks one’s own food can easily keep their additional expenses under $250 per month. Others can have expense more than twice that amount.
One-time expenses include round-trip transportation to Israel (typically $800-1300) as well as books, home goods and small appliances ($150-450).
This list was prepared by a student – please adapt for your stay at the Yeshiva as needed.
Year students, please note: Jerusalem is cold in winter and you need to plan accordingly.
This packing list assumes that you will be doing laundry weekly. If you plan to bring electrical appliances (cell phone chargers, tablet chargers, laptops, etc.), remember that they should be adaptable to Israeli current (220 volts, 50 cycles) or supplied with a transformer.
Click here for a PDF version of the Packing Guide Checklist
Getting to Jerusalem from Ben Gurion Airport is fairly simple, and takes approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Shared Taxi (Sherut)
A shared taxi is often the best option. These taxis leave the airport once there are enough passengers going to Jerusalem to fill up the vehicle.
Although this costs somewhat more than the bus (the fare is approximately $18), the advantage is it will take you directly to your address. The down side is that while it can take only 40 minutes to get from the airport to Jerusalem, you might spend another hour in the van, circling around until the taxi has dropped off all its passengers.
At Ben Gurion Airport take a shuttle from your terminal to the Ben Gurion Airport El Al Junction.
Egged bus 947 leaves the junction approximately every 20 minutes for the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, starting at 6:17 a.m. through 22:22.
If you come to Israel without a student visa, you will be issued a 1-3 month tourist visa at the airport. You will then need to request an appointment at Misrad Hap’nim (Ministry of Interior) in downtown Jerusalem. Typically, you will be given an appointment at least a month later. The visa will cost approximately 150 NIS (about US $40). You will need:
- An original letter from your congregational rabbi (on official letterhead), confirming that you are Jewish or have rights under the Law of Return, and explaining. The Rabbi should sign the letter in blue ink to show that it is not a copy.
- Married students: original (civil) marriage certificate (and a photocopy)
- Converted students: original conversion documents (and a photocopy).
- A passport-sized picture, completed visa application, Masa award letter (if relevant), and two adjacent blank pages in your passport.
- A NEW acceptance letter from the Conservative Yeshiva (on official letterhead) stating that you will be a student during the academic year. Your name should appear exactly as it does on your passport. We must add to the original letter the date of birth of both your parents, so please be able to provide us that information.
The Conservative Yeshiva at Agron 8, off Keren HaYesod/King George streets, is ideally located. It is about a ten minute walk to the Center of Town (Zion Square), a 15 minute walk to Jaffa Gate or the top of Emek Refaim Street, and a 20 minute walk to the Shuk Mahane Yehuda Market.
Where do students live?
Except for during the Taamu Winter Break Program, the Conservative Yeshiva does not provide accommodations; students are responsible for finding their own housing. But Jerusalem, with its large and eclectic student population, has a wide range of furnished and partially-furnished rental apartments available.
Most students live in apartments within a 10-30 walking radius of the Yeshiva campus. The generally means the following neighborhoods: Old Katamon, Rechavia, Talbieh, the German Colony, Baka, and Nahlaot. These areas are within easy walking distance to the Yeshiva . We will connect you with current students if you wish to discuss the ins and outs, advantages and disadvantages, of specific neighborhoods.
Short-term and summer students can also sub-let apartments, do AirBNB, or choose to stay in hotels or guest houses near the Yeshiva .
How do I find housing?
We will help you and other new students connect with each other, and connect with current students via Facebook who are vacating their apartments or have a spare room.
Apartments are oftentimes posted to the “Secret Jerusalem” Facebook Group. Other good services include Bayit Buddy (www.bayitbuddy.com), Craig’s List Jerusalem (www.craigslist.com), and Flathunting (www.flathunting.com), a free English-language Yahoo! Group with a wide variety of Jerusalem apartment listings.
Hebrew-speakers can use Ma’agar Meidah (www.999.co.il), probably the best local apartment service. For a monthly fee, you will receive a new listing of available apartments every day via email. Other good Hebrew-language apartment-hunting websites to try are www.homeless.co.il, www.sheal.co.il, Kan Garim (www.kangarim.co.il), http://www.yad2.com and the Hebrew University student apartment board at www.huji.ac.il/huji/info_apartments.htm.
Those coming for the semester or year are encouraged to arrange for a short-term sublet when for when you first arrive that will give you time to look more extensively for an apartment with a longer lease. Some useful websites for short-term housing options include Jerusalem Bed and Breakfasts (http://www.bnb.co.il/), Good Morning Jerusalem (www.accommodation.co.il), and Jerusalem Lodges (www.jerusalemlodges.com).
What should housing cost?
If you live with roommates and sign a 1-year lease, you can expect to pay $350-550 per month for something basic. More than $550 and you should be enjoying more upscale amenities like a washing machine, expansive porch, central heat, etc. Rental agreements usually specify that the renter ALSO pays for the municipality taxes (arnona), utilities (gas, water, electricity, internet/cable), and building maintenance (va’ad bayit). Students who wish to live alone and/or rent for a short period of time will likely pay more per month.
The Conservative Yeshiva requires all students to have health insurance that covers the basic health risks while you are here. We do not consider a catastrophic health insurance policy alone to be sufficient. Health insurance can be obtained either through a policy from home, if it covers you while you are here in Israel, or through a policy you purchase from an Israeli insurance company or agency specifically for your time here.
If you expect to be covered by your policy from home: Ask your insurer for confirmation of your coverage for medical care and hospitalization here in Israel (in hard copy or by e-mail). Check on the payment mechanism (and deductibles). It is likely that you will have to pay for any medical charges yourself and then seek reimbursement from your insurer (unless the insurer tells you otherwise). Even if covered from home, you may want to consider a local policy as a supplement. This is your decision.
Local Israeli health insurance for tourists/students: This is an established market here. The policies can be purchased for the length of a visit, with charges running from about $1.00 to $5.00 per day, generally scaled to age. Pre-existing health conditions might also be a factor in the cost – check!
The following is a list of Israeli insurance companies which have policies for students and tourists:
Shiloach/Harel through Egert & Cohen Insurance
Shiloach/Harel through Sasson Chacoty Insurance Agency
American Israel Medi-Plan, Inc. (AIM)
Tel: +972-2-653-7111 / U.S. Phone: 1-800-424-6752
U.S. Fax: 305-792-5472
Website: www.aim.co.il – Provides coverage for pre-existing conditions. Best coverage for people who are trying to get pregnant.
Clal through Howden Insurance Brokers
Contact Shai at Tel: +972-3-568-8825
The Conservative Yeshiva has no interest whatsoever in your decision from from whom to purchase health insurance. We do not represent these companies/agents in any way nor influence the coverage, conditions or prices. We get nothing from them (not even a calendar). Our only interest is that you have reasonable coverage and know how to get care should the need arise.
Upon receipt of policy details, please complete your online application file so we have a record of your insurance and emergency information in the office.
Important: Ask the agent how their insurance works (such as calling a central number before seeking treatment, using the magnetic card if they give you one, etc.). Always be sure to follow the policy’s procedures when utilizing medical services.
Those who have income in shekel may need a local bank account in order to deposit their earnings. For everyone else, the main benefit of having an Israeli account is the ability to write local checks. Because you may need to pay rent in shekels, this may make it worthwhile to have an Israeli account, though some people just deposit cash into the landlord’s account. If you do open an account, you may prefer to open parallel dollar and shekel accounts. Ask about the costs involved in transfers and conversions, as well as the time period before funds from foreign checks deposited are made available.
The main banks in Israel are Leumi, HaPoalim, Israel Discount, Mizrahi, and First International. There is an Israel Discount Bank around the corner from the Yeshiva . There is also a Discount subsidiary bank (Mercantile Discount) across the street, which the Yeshiva uses. You should be able to draw any checks that you receive from the Yeshiva at this bank.
If you choose not to open a local account, the most common way of getting Israeli currency is via an ATM (caspomat). Most of the major ATM systems allow withdrawals in shekels against accounts/credit cards in the United States. You can also change dollar cash or some checks at the various “Change” shops around town. It’s always advisable to check rates and fees.
The Yeshiva has three computers designated for limited student use, including word processing and Internet access. Many students choose to bring computers or tablets from home and use the free campus wifi.
If you bring a computer from home, check whether it has an “international power supply” and can accept 220 volt current. Almost all laptops have this feature built-in. If your computer has an international power supply, you just need a simple adapter to change the shape of your plug. These are available in any hardware or electrical store for a few shekel.
The Conservative Yeshiva has a relationship with TalkNSave to provide phones to our students.
Group deliveries to the Conservative Yeshiva campus will be occur a few days before your program begins. You may pick your phone up from the Yeshiva office anytime after that date as well. Students may also arrange US deliveries or separate deliveries in Israel.
If you have a phone that is unlocked for global use, you can get a local Israeli SIM card from any number of different companies.
All of the material for your studies is available in Jerusalem. We have a relationship with a bookseller who comes to the Yeshiva within the first few weeks of the program (and returns if requested). For students who wish to purchase books on their own instead, we will direct you to area bookstores. You can buy the books you need here, usually for less than the cost abroad.
Additionally, the Yeshiva ’s beit midrash is well-stocked, and therefore some students purchase a minimum amount of books while relying on the library for the rest. Note, the Yeshiva library is NOT a lending library; all books must be kept in the beit midrash.
If you already own any of the following, it is recommended that you bring them with you:
- English/Hebrew Tanach (JPS version preferable)
- A Weekday and Shabbat Prayerbook
- High Holiday Prayerbooks (most synagogues in Israel do not provide them)
- Hebrew/English dictionary
- Jastrow Dictionary
- Frank Talmud Dictionary
We know that you, and very likely even more so, your family/friends are concerned for your security while you are in Israel. Please be assured that the security of the students is the highest priority of the Conservative Yeshiva . The Yeshiva campus is closed, with its one entrance through a locked gate controlled by an armed guard. In addition, we work closely with the Security Department of the Jewish Agency, which provides regular security updates that are communicated to students when they are received. All trips are conducted according to the security guidelines of the Jewish Agency and the Israel Nature Society.
Most students are able to do what they want to do, and get to where they want to go, by walking, taking public buses or the light rail, or taking the occasional taxicab. Israel has an extensive and well-subsidized public bus and train systems for inter-city travel.
While the hills and traffic can make it challenging, many students find that a bicycle, either conventional or electric, can greatly improve their mobility and save them precious time. There are many shops throughout the city selling and servicing new and used bicycles, as well as an active person-2-person market.
While it’s great to know Hebrew, one can manage perfectly well in English. Almost everyone in Jerusalem speaks English, most signs are in English, and many products found in stores are labeled in English as well as Hebrew (and often in Russian and Arabic, too). There are modern supermarkets as well as smaller neighborhood grocery stores. There is the colorful Machane Yehuda shuk, which is very Middle Eastern, and the Malcha Mall, which looks like suburbia, anywhere. There is a remarkable variety of cultural activities of all types for a city this size, not to mention the level of Jewish activity, in Hebrew and English, which you won’t find anywhere else.
For many of you this will be your first time living abroad, at least on your own and for an extended period. We are aware of this and will do our best to help you bridge the “culture gap” as quickly as possible. Meeting Israelis is one of the best ways to do this, and if you don’t have Israeli friends or relatives, we’ll help you. The Conservative Yeshiva has a gemilut chesed program (helping people in need) and this is often a meaningful way to make contact with the local population.
There is a vibrant community atmosphere at the Conservative Yeshiva. Through both formal and informal events, the Yeshiva community stretches far beyond the daily schedule and the building itself. Students share Shabbat meals together; faculty invite students to their homes and Sukkot. Shabbatonim give the Yeshiva community the opportunity to learn from each other and grow together outside the Beit Midrash. For many, the Conservative Yeshiva becomes “home” and “family,” a source of support and life-long friendships.
What is the age and general background of most students?
Our students hail from all over the world, including the United States, England, Canada, Australia, South Africa, France, Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. They come from a variety of Jewish backgrounds – Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, and unaffliated. Most of our students have recently finished college and are either on their way to or in the middle of advanced degree study or careers. There are also older students who are taking a sabbatical or a mid-career break for a year of learning, some of whom come to Israel with their spouses or families.
Pre-college age students who would like to attend the Yeshiva can take part in the Yeshiva track of the Nativ Program of United Synagogue. The Nativ program includes one semester at the Conservative Yeshiva and one semester at a youth village boarding school or in community work.
Students, doctors, business people, teachers and more learn at the Conservative Yeshiva, sharing a common desire to study Torah in Israel.
Do the students tend to socialize after classes, or does everyone go their own way?
There is a strong, supportive community atmosphere at the Conservative Yeshiva. Many students celebrate Shabbat and holidays together and spend time together socially in other ways. We have Yeshiva social events over the course of the year, many of which are initiated and organized by students.
The Beit Midrash is the beating heart of the Yeshiva. Students daven (pray) there, eat there, and learn there every day. Over time, students establish a particular place at a particular table as their makom kavua (designated place).
The Conservative Yeshiva’s Beit Midrash is a beautiful and intimate space brimming with traditional texts and lively discussions. Students sit opposite their hevruta (learning partner) preparing for that day’s shiur (lesson), while another hevruta pair engages in intense debate a few feet away. Teachers sit in their own makom kavua (designated place) and move around the beit midrash to check on students’ progress and answer questions, in between engaging in their own learning.
The Yeshiva encourages students to both feel completely at home in the beit midrash, and to honor its fundamental purpose. Students and faculty alike are expected to refrain from phone use, and take more social or personal conversations and activities outside.
Students are able to keep books and other personal learning materials in a storage cubby just outside the beit midrash.
Is there a regular minyan at the Conservative Yeshiva?
Tefillah is an integral part of life at the Conservative Yeshiva, supplementing learning with religious practice and expression. The community davens together three times each day – Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma’ariv. Services are fully egalitarian and participatory, led by students, faculty and visitors. Students unfamiliar with regular davening and the siddur are given assistance and support. There is no need to feel uncomfortable with not knowing.
Do students daven together on Shabbat and holidays or go elsewhere?
Many students daven together at the various egalitarian service options around Jerusalem. About once a month Conservative Yeshiva students organize and lead Friday night services at Congregation Moreshet Yisrael, the Conservative synagogue located next to the Conservative Yeshiva.
The Yeshiva does not provide meals, except for the semester/year program’s once-per-week communal lunch called “Kehillah Medaberet,” and on special occasions.
We have a kitchenette with some cabinet and drawer space, a sink, refrigerator, and microwave. These are adequate for putting together a quick sandwich or salad, or reheating food brought from home.
Many restaurants, from the cheap to the fancy, or located no more than a 10-minute walk from campus, and there is a full-service supermarket, a sandwich shop, and a café in the immediate vicinity.
You can see the daily schedule, and the breaks for meals, by clicking here.
Students are encouraged to stay late in the beit midrash to review material from the day or pursue individual learning goals, and keys can be given to those who do this on a consistent basis.
In addition, the Yeshiva hosts a full community-wide night seder once a week, featuring a guest teacher, and proceeded by a casual BBQ dinner.
The Jewish tradition teaches that one should not only worship God and study Torah, but also help those in need. To achieve this balance, every student chooses a volunteer project to benefit the surrounding community. Students can find their own projects or select from a variety of projects with which the Yeshiva has connections. For example, students have volunteered to assist the elderly, tutor children, work for the environment, and lead Shabbat singing and visit at a nursing home. In addition the Yeshiva community contributes to selected worthy causes through our student-run Tzedakah fund.