Useful links & info
Useful Links & Info
Useful information about Israel
Language: Hebrew, Arabic
Capital City: Jerusalem
Population: 8.3 million
Area: 8,000 square miles
Telephone Calling Code: 972
Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz
March - June: Purim, Passover, Independence Day, Shavu'ot
September - October: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Hakippurim, Sukkot
December : Chanukah
Shabbat (The Sabbath) and Holidays
Shabbat commences at sundown on Friday evening and continues until sundown Saturday night.
Holidays also begin at sundown on the preceding evening and end at night. During Shabbat and major holidays all Jewish shops, businesses, offices, and institutions are closed. Most public transportation stops, though taxi service is generally available. Kosher restaurants are also closed at these times, though hotel dining rooms serve meals. Non-kosher restaurants stay open.
Currency and Value Added Tax info
The currency is in NIS - New Israeli Shekel. Many merchants will take dollars and give change in shekels. Surprisingly, when you do this the rate of exchange is usually quite good. Also, there are many ATM machines that will debit your U.S. account and give you shekels at a great exchange rate. Banks and post offices can change your dollars into shekels, as can most big hotels, though the rate at the hotels will not usually be as favorable. Many restaurants and tourist sites take credit cards.
Value Added Tax (VAT)
A value added tax of 18% is levied on all goods and services and is included in the quoted price. Tourists are usually exempt from this tax if they pay in foreign currency. Tourists who have paid the VAT on items exceeding $1,000 may be entitle to a VAT refund at the point of departure. The minimum purchase required should exceed $100 USD per VAT refund invoice. Only goods purchased at stores listed and included in the VAT refund arrangement are eligible for refunds. There is no eligibility for VAT refund for purchases made in any other stores. Obtain an invoice/receipt from the shop, indicating the amount of VAT paid. All goods need to be purchased for personal use only, in a non-commercial quantity. There is no VAT refund on food and tobacco products. To be eligible for VAT refund, the goods must be exported from Israel with you. The invoice and the goods purchased should be sealed in a transparent bag. This seal may not be broken until departure. At your departure, a customs official will open the sealed bag verify the contents, stamp the invoice, and either refund the VAT less commission or arrange for a refund to be sent to you at your home.
The climate in Israel is "Mediterranean".
Summers are from April through October and are warm and dry. June through September can be very warm!
Winters, from November through March, are generally mild, with some rain. It can be quite cool in the hilly regions and Jerusalem has been known to see just a touch of snow.
The climate varies from place to place.
Jerusalem, which is inland and in the Judean Hills, some 2,500 feet above sea level, is generally drier and colder throughout the entire year. In the summer, it gets very hot, but it remains less humid than the coast. In the winter Jerusalem temperatures regularly drop below freezing, and it snows occasionally. The Negev, in the south, is a hot, mostly barren desert.
Israel is known in the Bible as the "land of milk and honey". Today Israel is widely credited with a rich and distinctive cuisine reflecting the diversity of Israeli society, but with roots deeply planted in Jewish and regional customs. The cuisine of Israel is defined by the influences of Oriental and
Western flavors. Most of the country's restaurants are kosher, meaning they conform to Jewish dietary laws. Milk, cream, or cheese may not be served together with meat in the same meal. This means many restaurants serve either milk or meat, but not both. Pork and shellfish are banned in most locales, but it is possible to find them in non-kosher restaurants. There has been a recent interest in European-style fine dining. The food in Israel is fabulous and you will thoroughly enjoy the cultural experience for breakfast , suppers and dinners. You don't need to worry about water and fresh produce the water is safe to drink throughout Israel, and Israel's fresh fruits and vegetables are world-class Bottled water is available everywhere.
The international access code for Israel is +972.
The local phone operators use GSM networks and have roaming agreements with most international operators; otherwise, mobile phones can easily be rented. Most hotels will provide free WiFi. many coffee shops and restaurants will do the same.
Forget what you've read in the papers or seen on TV
Israel is a very safe place to visit. You are far more likely to run into trouble in any major U.S. city than anywhere in Israel. Behave in Israel the way you would in those cities. Be careful where you go at night. You will see soldiers carry guns on the streets, in cars, and on buses. Soldiers are required to keep their weapons with them. With so many Israelis on duty, it is common to stand next to someone on a street corner with a rifle hanging around their neck. You'll quickly get used to it and realize it's a fact of life in Israel and nothing to fear.
The 11th commandment - Thou shall support the economy of Israel.
In Israel's major cities shops are usually open from 9:00 a.m until 7:00 p.m, Sunday through Thursday. More and more shopping malls are springing up throughout the country, with more flexible hours. On Fridays shops usually close between 2:00-3:30 pm, and most places of business in Jewish areas do not open on Saturdays.
All urban taxis are equipped with meters and are required by law to operate them. Don't use a taxi if the driver refuses to use the meter. Shared taxis (sherut in Hebrew), at a fixed rate per passenger, are available between major cities, and on certain urban routes as well, such as to and from the airport.
Buses are the most popular means of urban and intercity transport throughout Israel. Fares are reasonably priced and service is regular. Most bus lines do not operate of the Sabbath and on Jewish holidays.
Useful Hebrew Words
Whenever you go to a foreign country, it is good idea to familiarize yourself
with the local language and customs. Most people in Israel speak English.
Below are a few common Hebrew phrases that will help you get by in Israel
ISRAEL AIRPORT AUTHORITY
EGGED- the leading public transport operator
BANK OF ISRAEL- EXCHANGE RATES
ISRAEL MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ISRAEL HOTEL ASSOCIATION
MUSEUMS IN ISRAEL
KEREN KAYEMETH LEISRAEL- JEWISH NATIONAL FUND
CHRISTIAN INFORMATION CENTER
ISRAEL GOVERNMENT SITE
ISRAEL TOURISM OFFICE
ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY