Israel: Volunteers For Israel – combine volunteering on IDF base with touring

17 days / 16 nights

starting from $1,729

(land only rates per person based on double occupancy)

Israel: Volunteers For Israel – combine volunteering on IDF base with touring

Tour Highlights: Tel Aviv, Ayalon Institute, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Beit Shean, Safed, Golan Heights, Gamla, Kibbutz Gesher, Kibbutz Degania, City of David, Jerusalem Jewish Quarter, Western Wall Tunnels, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Garden of Gethsemane, Machane Yehuda, Qumran, Dead Sea, Massada, Yad Vashem, Mount Herzl, Israel Museum

Shalom!

VFI PLUS is a unique opportunity to both tour Israel for eight nights and immerse yourself in Israeli culture by volunteering to provide needed civilian services to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) while living on an active military base for eight nights. In conjunction with Volunteers for Israel (VFI), discover and enjoy the personal spiritual experience of an All-Inclusive volunteer adventure. This is the only program in the world which places you in an active military setting for extended immersion. Your volunteer services are meaningful and a greatly appreciated contribution to the defense of the State of Israel. We look forward to greeting you in the Land of the Bible where time seems to have come to a stand-still, and where the history comes alive. You don’t have to close your eyes to imagine – you just have to open them.

VFI PLUS 2017 Programs Dates
Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, 2017

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Guaranteed small group dates with arrivals on Friday
17 days | 16 nights | 7 touring days

VFI PLUS 2017 Programs Dates

  • Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, 2017

To Apply - Click Here

Included features:

  • 17-day All-Inclusive program
    • All housing included
    • Transfers included to/from airport
    • Entrance fees to sites mentioned in itinerary
    • Meals included in itinerary (daily breakfasts, 11 lunches, 17 suppers)
    • Tips to guide/driver and hotel staff
  • Live and work on an active IDF base for a total of 8 nights
  • IDF work uniforms (fatigues)
  • Short-term civilian work assignments
  • Eat, meet, work, and play with active-duty Israeli officers and soldiers
  • Explore the diversity of Israel with private guided bus tours
  • Tax deductions-many elements of your volunteer service may be tax deductible in accordance with IRS publication 526, check with your accountant.
  • See www.vfi-usa.org for additional information on this 34-year old program as well as the VFI Application Form.

Not included features:

  • Roundtrip airfare (Please contact Lauren at 215–568–6655 ext. 366 if you have flight requests!)
  • Travel Insurance (strongly recommended)
  • Lunches not mentioned included on touring days in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses
  • VFI application fee – usually a $125 required donation

Note: No credit/refund for any unused services.volunteer for israel idf tour

 

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Day 1 - Friday
Arrival

El-AL-Airplane

Travel day – Arrive in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion airport by Friday afternoon, transfer to hotel, welcoming Shabbat supper, remain overnight.

Overnight: Tel Aviv

Day 2 - Saturday
Tel Aviv

Breakfast, group touring in Tel Aviv, lunch on own, group supper, remain overnight in hotel. Walking tour option for observant. Pickup at hotel for all-day group touring.

nahalet binyamin artist

Nahalet Binyamin
IsraelTourism/flickr

This morning, enjoy some time at leisure enjoy the Tel Aviv Beaches and promenade or visit Ayalon Institute (Bullet Factory). In 1945, the Haganah determined that at the end of the British Mandate a struggle would ensue between the Jews and Arabs of the land. A decision was made by the Haganah to establish a secret plant. In just three weeks, preparations for the factory were completed and it was code named the Ayalon Institute, a military industry factory in the early pre-state days. Continue to a wine tasting and tour at a local winery in the Carmel Region.

For the observant, enjoy a walking tour at the Old Port of Jaffa, a colorful hub of artists’ quarters, studios and art galleries. Shops catering for Judaica, archaeology, jewelry and art line its narrow alleys, all named after the signs of the Zodiac.

Overnight: Tel Aviv

Day 3 - Sunday
Transfer to IDF Base

IDF LogoBreakfast, Transfer to Sar-El meeting place at Ben Gurion airport arrivals area with all luggage by 9:00 a.m. Report to Sar-El representative, receive base assignment. Travel to IDF base by Sar-El bus, lunch and supper on base.  Welcome orientation, room assignments, get uniforms, supper, evening welcoming group program, reside in barracks.

Day 4 - Monday
Volunteering on IDF base

IDF LogoBreakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments. Lunch. Afternoon work assignments. Supper. Early evening group programs. Retire in barracks.

Day 5 - Tuesday
Volunteering on IDF base

IDF LogoBreakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments. Lunch. Afternoon work assignments. Supper. Early evening group programs. Retire in barracks.

Day 6 - Wednesday
Volunteering on IDF base

IDF LogoBreakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments. Lunch. Afternoon work assignments. Supper. Early evening group programs. Retire in barracks.

Day 7 - Thursday
Volunteer on IDF base in the morning, touring in the afternoon
beit shean archaeology site israel

Beit Shean

Breakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments, pack to depart for weekend, lunch on base. Private bus pickup at base and begin afternoon private weekend touring.

  • Travel North. Stop at Beit Shean, also called “Scythopolis”, the biggest archaeological park in Israel with beautiful excavations from Roman and Byzantine periods.

Supper, reside in hotel.

Overnight: Tiberias

Day 8 - Friday
All-Day touring

Breakfast, group morning touring, lunch on own, afternoon touring, Shabbat group supper, reside in hotel.

All-Day touring

  • Safed, an orthodox community and the center of Jewish mysticism (kabala), where you will visit the Joseph Caro and Ha’ Ari synagogues, the most important synagogues in the city and stroll down the famous Artists quarter.
  • Continue to Oz 77 Memorial in the Golan Heights, where we will watch a short film about the battle at the Valley of the Tears.
  • Golan Heights

    Golan Heights

    This afternoon, we will tour the Golan Heights with Jeep Tour – The tour will start in the Hula Valley between the Galilee Mountain and the Golan Mountain. On this journey we will walk the footsteps of the soldiers dating back to 1967. This journey took them over the Golan Heights overlooking a valley inhabited by settlers trying to leave normal life. We will travel over the slopes of the Golan Heights through a natural environment filled with beautiful wildlife and breath taking lookouts. Along our drive through a former Syrian army base, we will take a break to talk about the background and history of the environment.

Overnight: Tiberias

Day 9 - Saturday
All-Day touring

Breakfast, group morning touring, lunch on own, afternoon touring, group supper, reside in hotel. Walking tour option for observant.

gamla synagogue remains, green fields

Gamla Synagogue
IMOT

All-Day touring

Visit Gamla. Known as the “Massada of the north,” Gamla serves as the nature area for the vulture. You will learn of the terrible defeat taken place here during the Great Jewish Revolt. You can also hike to a waterfall.

Head south to Kibbutz Gesher. During the War of Independence, the kibbutz was the first settlement to face attack by a regular army, the Arab-Jordanian Legion.

Afterwards, we’ll visit Kibbutz Degania and learn about Israel’s first Kibbutz.

For the observant, enjoy a walking tour provided by your tour guide around Tiberias.

Overnight: Tiberias

Day 10 - Sunday
Return to IDF Base

IDF LogoBreakfast, private bus transfer to Savidor Center, Tel Aviv Train Station by 10:00 a.m. Return IDF to base via military bus, possible touring, lunch on base, afternoon work assignments, supper, group evening program. Retire in barracks.

Day 11 - Monday
Volunteering on IDF base

IDF LogoBreakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments. Lunch. Afternoon work assignments. Supper. Early evening group programs. Retire in barracks.

Day 12 - Tuesday
Volunteering on IDF base

IDF LogoBreakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments. Lunch. Afternoon work assignments. Supper. Early evening group programs. Retire in barracks.

Day 13 - Wednesday
Volunteering on IDF base

IDF LogoBreakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments. Lunch. Afternoon work assignments. Supper. Early evening group programs. Retire in barracks.

Day 14 - Thursday
Volunteer on IDF base in the morning, touring in the afternoon
Tower of David

Tower of David

Breakfast, flag raising, morning work assignments, pack for departure. Lunch. IDF volunteer work is completed. Private bus pickup at base and begin afternoon private weekend bus touring. Supper, reside in hotel.

  • City of David (Ir David) – explore the recently excavated fortresses and passageways. Here you can relive King David’s conquest of the Jebusite city. Visit the Hezekiah Tunnels. These tunnels were dug underneath the city as an aqueduct to provide water during an impending siege by the Assyrians. They date back as far as the 8th century B.C.

Overnight: Jerusalem

Day 15 - Friday
All-Day touring
jewish quarter jerusalem jewish man walking

Jewish Quarter

Breakfast, group morning touring, lunch on own, afternoon touring, Shabbat group supper, reside in hotel.

All-Day touring

  • Jewish Quarter, the main residential area for Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem
  • Western Wall Tunnels under the foundations of the city exposing the full length of the Western Wall. These tunnels will lead us back in time through the Second Temple era.
  • Cardo – A typical Roman street built in the 6th century consisting of stores situated between two rows of columns. The remains of the tall columns, arches, and stone floor can still be seen in the Cardo.
  • Visit the Christian Quarter and walk down the Via Dolorosa leading to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
  • Take the historic Palm Sunday Road and walk down to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18) between the ancient olive trees.
  • Machane Yehuda, the largest and busiest outdoor market in all of Israel. Buy all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables and experience the excitement as everyone prepares for Shabbat. It is widely recognized as a symbol of Jerusalem. Jerusalemites see it as a place that represents them, symbolizes them and gives them a unique identity in a larger Israeli social context.

Overnight: Jerusalem

Day 16 - Saturday
All-Day touring
Qumran, tours to israel

Qumran

Breakfast, group morning touring, lunch on own, afternoon touring, group supper, reside in hotel. Walking tour option for observant.

All-Day touring

First visit Qumran. Qumran is located on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, several kilometers south of Jericho. In a cave in the Judean Desert cliffs south of Qumran, a young Bedouin boy in 1947 found the first Dead Sea scrolls. Following this discovery, Qumran was excavated by the Dominican Father R. de Vaux in the years 1951-56. A complex of buildings, extending over an area of 100 x 80 m. was uncovered, dating to the Second Temple period. The park offers an audio-visual presentation of its history and rappelling through the nearby canyon and desert views.

massada aerialContinue to Massada. Ascend by cable car and tour the ancient fortress where the Zealots made their last stand against the Romans in 73 AD. Descend by cable car, time and weather permitting, an opportunity will be provided to enjoy a swim at a Dead Sea resort.

For the observant, enjoy a walking tour in Jerusalem, visiting Mea Shearim and the Old City.

Overnight: Jerusalem

Day 17 - Sunday
Touring and Departure

Breakfast, group morning touring, lunch on own, afternoon touring.

Touring

ya vashem holocaust museum in israel exit trapezoid exit opening to blue skies

Yad Vashem Exit

Some will transfer to the train station for volunteer extension opportunities. Others will visit:

  • Yad Vashem holocaust memorial and museum where we can walk through the Children’s Pavilion, visit the museum, and walk down the Avenue of the Righteous.
  • Mount Herzl, a military cemetery and museum honoring Theodore Herzl. Many great Israeli leaders have been buried here including Yitzhak Rabin and Golda Meir.
  • Israel Museum where we’ll explore an extensive collection that includes works by European masters such as Rembrandt up through modern and contemporary European, American and Israeli artists. On the grounds of the museum visit the Shrine of the Book where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. On the same grounds of the Museum we will visit the Miniature model of Jerusalem as it was 2000 years ago during the 2nd Temple period.
  • Farewell supper at a local restaurant

Farewell supper at a local restaurant, transfer to Ben Gurion Airport in evening, fly home.

Itinerary and guide are subject to change due to timing and unforeseen circumstances.

 

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Please contact Lauren at 215–568–6655 ext. 366 if you have flight requests!

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VFI Plus FAQs

 

  1. For 34 years, Volunteers for Israel (VFI) has sent tens of thousands of Americans to Israel to volunteer on an IDF base for 1 to 3 weeks.  Most volunteers make their own personal flight arrangements, hotel accommodations, touring, and regional travel connections.
  1. VFI PLUS is an enhanced offering which maximizes value and bundles all arrangements into an escorted, door-to-door, all-inclusive program for volunteers. In addition to volunteering on an IDF base for 8 nights, the trip includes an extensive 8-night touring program.
  1. VFI PLUS business arrangements and ground-services are contracts between the volunteer and GIL Travel Group, Inc. (GIL).  All payments except VFI’s nonrefundable Application Fee are paid directly to GIL Travel Group.  Volunteers may request additional services of GIL Travel to enhance their stay and/or personal experience including flight reservations, hotels, etc.  Affinity groups may schedule private trips using the VFI PLUS program as a prepackaged prototype.
  1. The roles of the four organizations engaged in this program are summarized as follows.
    • Volunteers for Israel (VFI) – U.S. non-profit that advises and recruits volunteers, receives and screens their applications, performs interviews, coordinates, and follows-up with volunteers.
    • Sar-El – Israeli non-profit that directly manages and coordinates volunteers while in Israel, and interfaces directly with the IDF.
    • Israeli Defense Force (IDF) – Provides management, leadership, housing, food, and manages volunteers work while on base.
    • GIL Travel Group, Inc. – Provides all-inclusive fulfillment of ground services including bus, accommodation and touring services for volunteers while in Israel, and not under the direct jurisdiction of the IDF.
  1. VFI PLUS is open to English-speakers ages 17 and above, all religions and education levels. Volunteers must complete a standard VFI application (see vfi-usa.org) and meet certain conditions including personal references, a medical release, personal and security interview, and formal acceptance of specific rules. Acceptance to the program is “pending” until IDF acceptance is confirmed.
    A second application is required by GIL Travel, Inc.
  1. Due to the basic security nature of this program on Israeli military bases, final IDF acceptance of a volunteer may be withheld or denied without explanation or appeal. Volunteers must agree to strictly conform to VFI, Sar-El and IDF policies and procedures.
  1. “All-inclusive” includes:
    • All door-to-door transfers and connections,
    • All accommodations (military barracks while on base, and, to keep the costs down, 3-star named hotels selected for location and quality during touring),
    • Most meals (all kosher meals while on base, lunch not included while on touring),
    • All entrance fees, luggage handling, all gratuities, all taxes.
    • Touring is in a private bus and led by a licensed English-speaking Israeli tour guide.  Touring excursions and visits have been chosen to provide the widest possible exposure to the unmatched, world-class rich historic culture of Israel.  Specific services not utilized by volunteers under all-inclusive VFI PLUS are not partially or wholly refundable.
  1. Not included in “all-inclusive” is round-trip airfare to Tel Aviv.  Individual round-trip airfare may be quoted by GIL, but the volunteer is free to make his/her own flight arrangements using frequent flyer miles, etc.  Also not included is a travel protection plan (trip insurance) – see GIL Travel Group, personal medical insurance (Medicare is not in force outside the USA), an Israeli telephone – see GIL Travel Group, passport expense (a visa is not required for U.S. citizens), and personal expenses such as laundry and souvenirs.  VFI’s nonrefundable application fee is not included.
  1. Personal Health Issues – Activities include walking up to a mile on an army base, some uneven terrain, and climbing flights of stairs.  Touring involves travel by bus, walking on uneven terrain, and numerous steps.  Volunteer work on IDF bases might require strenuous physical activity.  Refrigeration and general medical services are not conveniently available on base.  Other restrictions and conditions may apply.
  1. VFI PLUS is not for everyone.  This is not a luxury hands-off “Mission to Israel.”  Volunteers live and work on IDF bases which can be best described as spartan.  Multiple volunteers may share a room without expectation of privacy.  Military food, while kosher and adequate, is not elegant.  The work on base is generally not considered glamorous.  The experience roughly parallels a young boy or girl IDF soldier’s experience, which you will witness firsthand.  Your soul will feel the difference.
  1. VFI PLUS program duration is 17 days in Israel.  Volunteers may arrive early or extend their time in Israel and use GIL Travel Group agent services for assistance.  Double or single occupancy is available only during touring. Group barracks occupancy will be assigned while on IDF bases and while flexible, is non-negotiable.
  1. Program and Touring Schedule.
    • The VFI PLUS program is scheduled once more in 2017.
      • Friday, October 20 to Sunday, November 5, 2017.
    • Market demand may require additional dates to be scheduled.
  1. The minimum group size is 10 volunteers.  The maximum group size is 24 volunteers.
    • In the event program minimums are not met, GIL will refund all fees for ground services and volunteers are offered the opportunity to join a regularly scheduled Volunteers for Israel program which is offered concurrently with VFI PLUS program schedules.
  1. The program cost decreases with participation based on a minimum group of 10-14 volunteers.  The basic cost for the October-November 2017 program is $2,257 (double occupancy) plus your round-trip airfare to Tel Aviv. If the group size reaches 15 volunteers your cost is reduced to $1,906. At 20 volunteers your cost is $1,729. Single supplements are available.
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The VFI Plus Application Process

 

  1. Evaluate whether this program is for you and whether you can handle the physical demands, army living conditions, and the flexibility that may be required.
  1. See if the program dates are suitable – Friday, October 20 to Sunday, November 5, 2017.
  1. Execute the GIL Travel Group, Inc. application form (giltravel.com – 800-223-3855), accept the terms and conditions, and submit your refundable $500 deposit.  For more information on VFI PLUS, contact Lauren at GIL Travel Group, Inc. at 800-223-3855 ext 366, or email to [email protected] (giltravel.com).
  1. Visit the Volunteers for Israel website – www.vfi-usa.org and download the VFI Application Form.
  1. Complete all aspects of the VFI Application Form, including the medical clearance, references, etc., and submit to a regional VFI representative with the non-refundable application fee.
  1. Schedule a personal VFI interview and pose your questions.
  1. If accepted for the program, submit required payments to Gil Travel Group and then acquire round-trip airline tickets.  Visas are not required for U.S. citizens.
  1. Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months past the date of your return from Israel.
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