Living in Jerusalem
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.
A New Culture
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.
All students are required to have health insurance while they are studying at the Conservative Yeshiva. We do not consider a policy for “catastrophic” health insurance alone as sufficient. If your health insurer from home covers you while here, you will need to provide us with confirmation. Even if you are covered from home, you may want to consider a local policy as a supplement. This is your decision.
Health insurance for tourists/ foreign students is an established market in Israel. The policies can be purchased for the length of a visit, with charges running from about $1.00 – $3.50 per day, generally scaled to age. Pre-existing health conditions might also be a factor in the cost. The Yeshiva is happy to provide students with specific information about local health insurance providers. Please obtain this information from us well in advance of your arrival, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions.
The Conservative Yeshiva has no interest whatsoever in your decision from where and/or whom to purchase health insurance. We do not represent these companies/agents in any way and cannot define coverage, conditions or prices. Our only interest is that you have reasonable coverage.
The Yeshiva strongly recommends that you apply for a student visa before you come to Israel. You will need to take the signed copy of your acceptance letter on official letterhead to the local Israeli consulate near your home and fill out some paperwork. Call to see if this can be done by mail or fax. The visa will be valid for one year.
If you come to Israel without a student visa, you will be issued with a tourist visa upon arrival. You will then need to request an appointment at Misrad Hap’nim (Ministry of Interior). Typically, you will be given an appointment at least a month later. You will need to bring your passport, passport photos, and a letter from the Yeshiva to your appointment. The visa will cost approximately 150 NIS (about US $40).
The Conservative Yeshiva has a relationship with TalkNSave for CY to provide phones to our students. Visitors to Israel can also order through TalkNSave for CY. The Yeshiva derives a small benefit from usage of these phones so ordering through this page helps support Yeshiva learning. We also get great service from the company and can help you if you run into any difficulties. Finally, you have the option to pick up your cell phone here at the Yeshiva and combine it with a stop in the Beit Midrash for learning or Tefillah! We want to see you on your visit! We hope you will take advantage of this service.
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.
Computer and Internet
The Yeshiva has three computers designated for limited student use, including word processing and Internet access. Many students bring their own computers from home, while others rely on the Yeshiva and on friends’ computers. The Yeshiva has WiFi network on campus, and there are other networks in the city as well. There are also many Internet cafes in town.
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.
If your computer does not have an international power supply, you need to buy a transformer that can convert 220 volts to 120 volts. Do NOT get a cheap transformer—it can damage your computer. This can be purchased in the US for about $50, or here in Israel.
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.
International Student Identity Cards
The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is your passport to fantastic discounts and services at home and around the world. The card is available to full-time students and there is no age limit. If you will be studying part-time at the Yeshiva and you are under 26 years of age, you are eligible for the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC).The IYTC card offers similar benefits, services and savings. The ISIC and the IYTC cost about 50 NIS.
You may apply for the ISIC or the IYTC from you home country or in Israel. You will need a passport-size photograph and proof of age. ISIC applicants will also need a letter to verify their status as a full-time student.
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.
A Guide For Packing
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.
2 lightweight suitcases
Carry-on hand luggage
Personal bag (for $, ID papers, camera), backpack for carrying books, etc.
Loose fitting, comfortable slacks and a shirt (short sleeve layered with long sleeve or light jacket) as the plane will be ‘cold.’
CLOTHING FOR CLASSES
2-3 pairs of shoes (1-2 pair of sneakers/closed shoes for the colder weather and 1 pair of sandals for the warmer weather)
2-3 pairs of slacks (or skirts)
5 short sleeve, loosely fitting tops
5 long sleeve, loosely fitting tops/ sweaters (for the colder weather)
1 light jacket
1 winter jacket, scarf, gloves and a hat for the winter months
Accessorize as you wish
Clothing for Shabbat (very casual in Israel)
Add one more pair of slacks or skirt – a little ‘nicer’
Add two more shirts – a little ‘nicer’, one for Friday night and one for Saturday – some folks wear white shirts on Shabbat
Please note that sleeveless and extremely revealing shorts and skirts are not allowed according to the Conservative Yeshiva dress code.
Sleepwear, cover up for going from shower to room (if sharing apartment) including slippers to wear around the house
Underwear and socks/tights for 8 days
Clothing for jogging/yoga
Hiking shoes (sturdy sneakers are OK)
Swim suit, towel and water shoes (crocs or flip flops)
TOILETRIES AND MISCELLANEOUS:
Sun screen, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, hand soup, hair brush, razor, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, baby powder
Non prescription drugs and first aid, make-up, comfort items
Hand wipes or sanitizing lotion, alarm clock, tissues, sewing kit, first aid kit, tweezers, nail clipper, over the counter prescription: aspirin, antacid, etc.
Prescription drugs – It is preferable that the prescription drugs are in a sealed packet/ bottle. Bring a letter from you local doctor to verify your need for the drugs if you are bringing large quantities to Israel. Also take extra 2-3 days worth in case of emergency (i.e., airport strike, plane delay) and pack in your hand luggage.
Glasses, contact lenses, and hearing aid
Eyeglass repair kit, extra pair of prescription glasses, extra batteries for hearing aid – pack in your hand luggage
Tallit, kipah, t’fillin, personal siddur (there are siddurim in the Bet Midrash) – pack in your hand luggage
STUDY AIDES (all available in Israel):
Magnifying strip (can be bought in Israel) or magnifying glass
Hebrew/English dictionary (if you are taking Ulpan)
Binder/notebook, pencils, pens, highlighters can be purchased in Israel
Electronics: IPod, hair dryer, laptop
Camera, battery charger (with transformer for Israeli current) or extra batteries
Shabbat candlesticks (travel variety)
Laundry bag, clothes pins or some way to hang hand laundry
Additional clothing for going out – dress code in Israel is casual. It is okay to wear slacks, shirt and sandals to a concert/ restaurant
Duplicate of passport, health insurance and return airline ticket
Listing of credit cards, numbers, pins (add other numbers in way that only you can know which numbers to eliminate to find the ‘real’ number)
Contact information for family, friends, doctors
List of bills that you will need to pay via the internet while away (or pre-pay)
Non-prescription (deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand sanitizing)
Personal information – see above
Underwear and clothing for three days
Tallit, t’fillin, etc.
Empty water bottle that you can fill after passing security
Snacks for plane (there is food, but you may want to bring some ‘comfort’ food)