Israel: Volunteers For Israel – combine volunteering on IDF base with touring
17 days / 16 nights
(land only rates per person based on double occupancy)
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
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
May 5 to May 21, 2017
Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, 2017
VFI PLUS 2017 Programs Dates
- May 5 to May 21, 2017
- Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, 2017
- 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 an agent to arrange your air travel)
- 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.
Itinerary and guide are subject to change due to timing and unforeseen circumstances.
Dates and Rates
Prices subject to decrease based on participation.
|May 5 - 21, 2017|
|Number of Volunteers||10-14||15-19||20-24|
|Air & Land Package based on Double Occupancy||$3,510 per person||$2,999 per person||$2,825 per person|
|Land Package based on Double Occupancy||$2,222 per person||$1,872 per person||$1,696 per person|
|October 20 - November 5, 2017|
|Number of Volunteers||10-14||15-19||20-24|
|Air & Land Package based on Double Occupancy||$3,399 per person||$3,030 per person||$2,843 per person|
|Land Package based on Double Occupancy||$2,257 per person||$1,906 per person||$1,729 per person|
|Flight||Departure Date||From/To||Departure Time||Arrival Time|
|LY028||May 4||Newark/Tel Aviv||1:30 PM||7:00 AM (May 5)|
|LY027||May 22||Tel Aviv/Newark||12:30 AM||5:40 AM|
|LY028||October 19||Newark/Tel Aviv||1:30 PM||7:10 AM (Oct.20)|
|LY027||November 6||Tel Aviv/Newark||12:30 AM||6:00 AM|
VFI Plus FAQs
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- “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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Program and Touring Schedule.
- The VFI PLUS program is scheduled two more times in 2017.
- The program dates are:
- Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 21, 2017
- Friday, October 20 to Sunday, November 5, 2017.
- Market demand may require additional dates to be scheduled.
- 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.
- The program cost decreases with participation based on a minimum group of 10-14 volunteers. The basic cost for the May 2017 program is $2,222 (double occupancy) plus your round-trip airfare to Tel Aviv. If the group size reaches 15 volunteers your cost is reduced to $1,872. At 20 volunteers your cost is $1,696. Single supplements are available.
- The participation-based costs for the October-November 2017 program are $2,257/$1,906/$1,729
The VFI Plus Application Process
- 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.
- See if any of the four program dates are suitable – Friday, May 5 to Sunday, May 21, 2017; or Friday, October 20 to Sunday, November 5, 2017.
- 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 Fallon at GIL Travel Group, Inc. at 800-223-3855 ext 373, or email to [email protected] (giltravel.com).
- Visit the Volunteers for Israel website – www.vfi-usa.org and download the VFI Application Form.
- 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.
- Schedule a personal VFI interview and pose your questions.
- 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.
- Make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months past the date of your return from Israel.