“Taglit”: a 10-day educational tour through Israel
Israel is a modern example of how a successful country is built “from scratch”, with hatred of the neighbours around the perimeter (11 wars and armed conflicts during the last 69 years) and in difficult environmental conditions (2/3 of the territory are deserts).
Historically this is a home land for millions of Jews who live all around the world. Their knowledge about Israel are what they get from literature and mass media. “Taglit” – a free educational trip to Israel for Jews which lets them to touch their land: to see with their own eyes how the young country lives, to know the history, traditions and spiritual values of their nation better.
The Secretary of State of USA, Henry Kissinger criticized the politics of Israel during his speech at the Knesset. After hearing that, the prime minister Golda Meir reproached him: “Henry, but you are a Jew!”. Kissinger answered: “Firstly, I am a citizen of USA. Secondly, I am a state employee of this country. And only thirdly, I am a Jew”. Meir: “But you know that we read from the right to the left!”.
The “Taglit” program, or “What do we have here?”
Simply speaking, it is a trip to Israel which is paid by patrons of the project, not by you. You will spend 10 exciting days in the company of peers from all over the world:
- in a climatic paradise (Mediterranean subtropics) having a lot of unique natural landscapes;
- among historical artefacts;
- in the spiritual centres of Judaism;
- in all the ethno-cultural diversity of the region.
This program for Jewish youth is translated into English as “Discovery”: this very goal was pursued by two Americans-founders who have started the project in 1999. Having started from America, “Taglit” with the support of Jewish diaspora and the State of Israel became a world trend: about 400 thousand young Jews have already opened the historical homeland for themselves, have learned more about their roots and the values of Judaism.
Jerusalem: an ancient city – the capital of a modern country
To understand the essence and details of the program, let’s examine it thoroughly.
Format: more than tourism
A group of 40 people is riding through the towns and cities of Israel by bus for 10 days. The group consists of 8 Israeli and young people of Jewish parentage from the countries of North America and Eastern Europe.
During the trip you will:
- cross the country far and wide – from Eilat to the Golan heights;
- bath in three waters – of the Dead, Red and Mediterranean Seas;
- visit holy places of Jerusalem, have an excursion in its Old City, see the expositions of the best museums of Israel;
- ride a camel in Jerusalem, climb mountain peaks, spend a night in Bedouins’ camp, dance on the beach at sunset, try dishes on the national cuisine.
The organizers don’t even hide that they want you to fall in love with this country: sincerely and honestly, so that you wish to come here again. So they bend over backwards to show all the best that is present here. They see in you not a tourist whom they need to sell services\goods to, but a relative.
Here they are – the soldiers of TSAHAL!
Free – no tricks here!
Everything will be paid for you:
- medical insurance – from the start and till the end of the trip;
- transport – to Israel, within it and back;
- lodging for the night – comfortable hotels (except for staying overnight in the desert with Bedouins);
- food (kosher) – breakfast and suppers at the hotel, and a backpacking lunch on the road;
- museums, excursions;
- a professional security guard.
Note: during the registration you need to deposit a bail of $50 by non-cash transfer on booking hotel and other services for you. After your return or if you don’t go (the documents don’t meet the requirements, the plans are changed) the bail will be given back to your card account.
Safety: maximal level
Permanent martial law is observed in Israel for more than seventy years already. And it is only an advantage for the residents and guests of the country: special security services, army, law-enforcement authorities are well-prepared and in permanent combat readiness.
Your life and health are directly in charge of:
- an armed professional security guard within the group (having a second medical specialization);
- an excellent health care system (an insurance is taken out on you);
- high standards of hotel service, public catering, road infrastructure, transportation services.
From the point of view of safety, the tour’s route is thought-out to the smallest detail.
Ben-Gurion Airport: not a single “frame” of metal detectors and no terrorist attacks for all time of existence (1936). For comparison: in the airports of Moscow and Istanbul these frames are there but tragedies occur regularly.
“Ben-Gurion” is recognized as the most secure airport in the world and its security system is one of highest standard.
Limitations: within reasonable bounds!
During the registration a program guide will be sent to you; all planned events, rules of behaviour and nuances of life in Israel will be given in it.
The main points include:
- choose of clothing/shoes according to the season, route and religious standards for one day in a week – Shabbos;
- all food is kosher;
- in religious places – observation of rules of behaviour and dress code;
- the sense of the trip is educational – no commerce;
- alcohol beverages and drugs are strictly prohibited.
All rules are dictated by common sense and national traditions. The main message of ”Taglit”: Living in Israel is great!
Israel is a European democratic state where unique balance between the secular society and the religion. Thanks to that, there are no prohibitions of totalitarian regime or religious obscurantism!
A program for youth: only real drive behind which minor limitations are not even noticed.
The myths and their disclosure
“Involvement in a sect/recruitment of spies”
The project works for the eighth year by now; hundreds of thousands young Jews have already participated – just read their reviews! During all 10 days the group is on the road and in public – the guide and two counselors attached to the group can’t perform any concealed manipulations physically.
“I will be charged money for registration/getting into the group, paid services will be imposed”
The program is patronized by the State of Israel, its goal is to show the country in a positive light, so any kind of deception is excluded. The operators of the trip are Jewish organizations with a long-standing background working all over the world (like “Ezra”).
“I will be lodged in a shack and the food will be anything that comes to hand and not enough to eat fill”
You will live in a hotel room (**/***) with 2-3 roommates of the same sex, breakfast and dinner – standard smorgasbord.
“The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.” Words said by the character played by Sergey Yurskiy in the movie “The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed”. Original source – a quote by Confucius.
The requirements of participation in “Taglit”
There are two criteria here: Jewish heritage and age. You don’t need to worry about getting into the group if:
- your grandmother/grandfather/great-grandmother were Jews;
- you have already graduated from school;
- you are older than 18 but younger than 27, an exception – if you turned 27 after the start of tour season (summer/winter);
- you haven’t participated in any similar program of the State of Israel before;
- you live outside of Israel from the age 12+ (if you were born there).
We suggest you to ask your relatives more about the issue: the cases when people don’t even know about their Jewish roots are quite frequent. A heart-to-heart talk with your mother or grandmother is especially useful.
How to register your participation in “Taglit”
The stages included in this process are as follows:
- Filling out of registration form and an online blank;
- A phone interview with a counsellor;
- Providing of scanned copies of documents that verify your Jewish origins, and their check by the consulate;
You need to scan and provide the certificates of:
- birth of Jewish great-grandmother/grandmother/grandfather;
- marriage between the grandmother and grandfather verifying the birth of Jewish mother/father in a legal marriage (if present);
- birth of Jewish mother/father;
- marriage between your mother and father (if present);
- your birth.
Also an electronic scanned copy of your foreign passport is needed.
If you don’t have all the listed documents verifying your Jewish origins, that’s not a problem: they can be replaced by other “attributes” of the Soviet times – a military or party card, orderings or certificates (and any similar official papers). Ask the counsellor for help – he will give you guidance on the possible location of the document, the procedure of its getting of restoration.