Before Arriving

It should be possible (and, considering the hassle of shipping and customs regulations, it is advisable) to manage in Israel for the year with the clothing that you carry in your luggage. Though temperatures do not drop much below freezing during the rainy winter, the cold can be penetrating; we suggest that you prepare to dress in layers, including a warm coat, a good raincoat (and boots), several warm sweaters, long underwear, etc. Styles of dress tend to be informal, but you ought to include at least one outfit per season for “dress occasions” such as synagogue attendance. Dry cleaning in Israel is expensive, and it is best to bring machine- washable items.

If you bring electrical appliances (hair-dryer, tape recorder), remember that they should be adaptable to Israeli current (220 volts, 50 cycles) or supplied with a transformer. For tiyulim (hiking tours) you will need good walking/hiking shoes, shoes that can be worn in water, a sun hat and a water canteen (all available in Israel). Especially if you anticipate touring on your own, you may want to bring a sleeping bag and day pack.

Regarding books, all of the material for your studies is available in Jerusalem. Pardes has a working relationship with a local bookseller who comes to Pardes within the first few weeks of school with the necessary books for all Pardes classes. For students who wish to purchase books on their own instead, we will direct you to area bookstores.

If finances are an issue, the Pardes beit midrash is well-stocked, and some students purchase a minimum amount of books while relying on the Pardes library for the rest. However, since books in the Beit Midrash cannot leave Pardes, most students do buy the main books they need for their classes.

If you already own any of the following, they are worthwhile to bring:

  • English/Hebrew Tanach (JPS version preferable)
  • Torat Hayim OR Mikraot Gadolot on Beresheit or Shmot
  • A set of Mishna B’rura
  • A siddur
  • High Holiday prayer books (most synagogues in Israel do not provide them)
  • Hebrew/English dictionary
  • Jastrow dictionary
  • Frank dictionary

Again, this list is only if you already own the above. You can buy the books you need here, usually for less than the cost abroad.

If you do not own any of the above or even know what any of the above are, don’t worry. You can buy what you need once you arrive (and even understand what each book on the list is soon after).

Pardes has one basic computer available for student use. There is wireless in most parts of the building, and many students bring laptops. Most laptops can be used in Israel with an inexpensive adapter. We recommend purchasing a few adapters for the electrical appliances you are bringing with you, such as hair dryers and computers. An adapter is the plug that allows the prongs on your appliance to fit into the Israeli outlet which takes round plugs. Voltage in Israel is 220 vs 120 in the US. Most laptops automatically handle the different voltage rates without a problem. Certain appliances are marked with “Input: AC 100-240 V” confirming that it can handle the switch. If not, you need a converter, a larger, more expensive item that will convert your appliance’s voltage into 220V. If you go to an electronics store in the US, they will tell you Israel is different and has a unique plug. This is only partially true; the standard European 2-pin with 4mm pins will also work just fine. If you don’t get adapters in advance, there is an electronics store near Pardes which sells adapters and converters. Prior to leaving, you may want to set up your family with Skype and a webcam. You can download Skype for free. Most webcams have a built in microphone.

If possible, try to avoid shipping large items. Besides the cost, you may have to go to the port to claim your package and clear it through customs. Smaller packages will reach the local post office but may be charged high customs fees. Under any circumstances, such items should be timed to arrive after you (surface mail generally takes 4-8 weeks) since they cannot clear customs without your passport and will be stored at your expense and risk until you arrive. If you send clothes, it may help to mark the package, “Used Clothing.” If you mail books (which entail no customs duty), make sure your name appears on the package prominently and in each book. We recommend that you insure your personal effects during shipping as well as for the duration of your stay in Israel as Pardes cannot assume responsibility against theft or loss.

For the past decade, Blanket Express Plus has been providing its service to thousands of foreign students. They allow you the convenience of purchasing all your bedding and storage needs at home, and then delivering your package directly to your requested address, so that it’s there when you arrive. Should you decide to use their service, you may place an order with them at www.BlanketExpressPlus.com attached They may be also be contacted at cservice@BlanketExpressPlus.com or 718-360-4534. (Pardes does not officially endorse this or any other shipping provider.)

Get an A2 student visa before you arrive in Israel – All students not holding Israeli citizenship should obtain an A2 student or Masa visa from an Israeli Consulate or Embassy in their home country prior to arrival in Israel. To obtain the visa, you will usually need to go in person to the nearest Israeli consulate. Bring with you:

  • A letter from Pardes stating that you will be a student during the academic year (Request this letter from registrar@pardes.org.il at least 5 days before your appointment. We will need your full name exactly as it appears in your passport.)
  • A copy of your Masa award letter if you are the recipient of a MASA scholarship or grant.
  • Check the website of the Israeli Consulate closest to you for full requirements. Some consulates, especially in countries outside of North America, require applicants to submit proof that they are Jewish or have rights under the Law of Return.

The procedure may take several weeks, so we suggest you apply for a student visa early. However, the visa will be valid for one year from date of issue so if you plan on staying in Israel for a while after the program, don’t apply too early.

If you arrive in Israel on a tourist visa….

You will receive a 1-3 month tourist visa at the airport, and will need to apply for a student visa at the Ministry of the Interior in downtown Jerusalem.

To apply for a visa in Israel you will need:

  • An original letter from your congregational rabbi on synagogue stationery, confirming that you are Jewish (or have rights under the Law of Return) and how (i.e. you were born to a Jewish mother, born to a Jewish father or by your own conversion). The letter should be short and to the point. Photocopies and faxes are not accepted. The Rabbi should sign the letter in blue ink so it is clear that the letter is not a copy. Contact registrar@pardes.org.il if you have any questions about your status or what should be included in the letter.  You cannot be issued a visa in Israel without this letter!
  • Married students: original (civil) marriage certificate (and a photocopy)
  • Converted students: original conversion documents (and a photocopy).  You may be asked to write a page or two describing your conversion.
  • A passport-sized picture, completed visa application, Masa award letter (if relevant), and two adjacent blank pages in your passport.
  • In addition, an original letter from Pardes stating that you are a student. In this letter we are required to include the date of birth of both your parents, so make sure you have that information.

If you are going to apply for a visa in Israel, contact registrar@pardes.org.il before going to the Interior Ministry to receive comprehensive directions and assistance with the application.

We strongly suggest that you try to obtain a student visa from an Israeli Consulate before coming to Israel. If this isn’t possible, remember to bring with you the original letter from your rabbi.

When you arrive in Israel, the easiest way to reach Jerusalem is by sherut (a group taxi) door-to-door from Ben Gurion Airport. “Nesher” is a very reliable company servicing Jerusalem; their stand is located just outside the arrivals terminal, or ask, “Where is the sherut to Jerusalem?” (Many Israelis speak English and are helpful.) Rates are fixed and posted (both dollars and shekels are accepted: $20 or 64 NIS). Buses are available but are less convenient, especially if you have luggage.

It is vital for your protection and required by Pardes that you have medical coverage during your stay here. Pardes has a working relationship with an insurance company called Egert and Cohen though Pardes students are not required to buy insurance from this company. Representatives from Egert and Cohen will be at Pardes for your convenience at the beginning of the academic year and the beginning of each Summer Program session. Their plan called Harel costs from $1.30 per day and includes full hospitalization, visits to doctors and specialists, coverage for medicines, x-rays, laboratory tests and emergency dental treatment of up to $200 per year. Personal Effects Insurance is also available.

You should make sure that whatever coverage you currently have will continue for the first weeks after you arrive in Israel until you arrange coverage here. If you prefer to maintain hospitalization/major medical coverage through your home-based plan (Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Mass. Mutual, etc.), check that it will cover you in Israel and request written confirmation to that effect, a copy of which must be given to us.

Please note that if you have a pre-existing condition, it is wise to continue with your present insurance, as your condition may not be covered by another company.

Only students who submit proof of full hospitalization coverage may participate in extracurricular activities.

We suggest that you bring a supply of any particular medication (prescriptions or over-the-counter items) that you use, as you may not find exact equivalents in Israel. To get U.S. prescriptions filled in Israel you need to get a replacement prescription from an Israeli doctor, which we can help you arrange. An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses is also a good idea. Additional information about medical insurance and health care will be provided at orientation.

You should make sure that you have access to at least $1000 upon arrival (in travelers checks or through a credit card/debit card) for use until you make your bank arrangements.

Tuition at Pardes covers classes as well as extracurricular activities such as Shabbat programs, tours and special seminars. It does not cover housing, medical insurance, books, Hebrew ulpan fees or other living expenses such as food. As a guideline, students should budget approximately $500 – $700 (1400-2100 NIS, approximately) per month for rent, not including bills. Living expenses vary depending on students’ lifestyles.

Projected expenses for a 10 month period in Israel are estimated at $12,000 – $15,000 in addition to tuition. This figure is based on estimates for a round-trip flight from North America, rent, Hebrew ulpan, medical insurance, books, bills, food and miscellaneous expenses.

For Summer Students: In addition to flight and Program costs students should expect to pay token registration fees for Shabbat celebrations, tours and special events, $5-$10.

You will need to decide whether to open a bank account in Israel. You can withdraw cash (for a fee) from ATM machines (but note that not all American ATM cards work at all banks). Rent and bills can often be paid in cash and foreign credit cards can be used almost everywhere (although with some cards you are charged an extra fee for a foreign transaction). Before you leave for Israel, it is a good idea to alert your credit card company that you will be using it abroad so the company does not block foreign charges.

If you receive financial aid stipends from Pardes, you are encouraged to open an Israeli bank account, and your monthly stipend will be directly deposited into your account.

Additional banking information will be given at orientation or can be found in the orientation book.

Please make arrangements to take care of tuition payments before the first day of classes.

Pardes provides office support such as printing, faxing and photocopying for a small fee to students applying to graduate schools. In addition, Pardes has state-of-the-art video-conferencing facilities which students may arrange to use for interviews.

Upon admission to Pardes, incoming students will receive information about our optional cell phone plan. Please contact us if you do not receive the information with your admission materials.

The Pardes Orientation Book is available online for admitted students who want to read the information ahead of time. Printed booklets will be distributed upon your arrival at Pardes. Pardes cell phone plan information will be emailed to you upon admission to Pardes.