Security FAQ

The safety and security of our participants is an integral part of our trip logistics. While the majority of Israel is out of the conflict areas, YJ’s first and foremost concern is the complete certainty that our participants are as far removed from any potential threat. For that reason, we spare no expense in rebooking hostels, diverting travel, and taking all other measures necessary to keep our participants out of harm’s way should the need arise.

Our decisions are based on the security consultations that we hold regularly with various government and organizational bodies. We are in close communication with the Ministry of Education and Tourism, which provides frequent updates about developing situations and advisories for programs like ours traveling in Israel. We also work in conjunction with larger organizations, in this case Birthright Israel, and follow their security assessments as well, often times taking precautionary measures beyond their recommendations. In large-scale situations such as we saw this past summer, our staff monitor and ensure adherence to all public safety announcements and warnings from Pikudei Ha’Oref, the IDF’s Homefront Command, as well as municipal authorities.

Cancelling a trip comes only after full consultation with all parties involved – our staff, our security sources, and participants, also taking into account the concerns of parents of our participants. While we do everything we can to ensure that our groups can continue to visit and tour Israel even in times of conflict, we are aware that a moment may come when being in Israel is not in the best interest of our participants’ safety, and we will not hesitate to cancel a trip should we deem it irresponsible not to.

YJ has been running trips to Israel since 1956. Our participants have witnessed firsthand some of the greatest, and some of the hardest, moments in Israeli history. As the years pass, we hear strongly positive feedback from alumni that their experiences in Israel helped shaped their identities and futures in ways they did not imagine were possible.

In an average year, we have several thousand participants on a wide range of short-term, long-term, and gap year programs in Israel.

While we do encourage participants to consider all angles of a decision to return home, we respect their decision and do the best we can to facilitate their departure. Many times, we find that a participant or parent who is considering cancelling decides to stay after speaking with our staff about safety procedures, and for this reason we encourage open and ongoing dialogue regarding security. We are respectful of the highly-sensitive nature of these decisions and would never attempt to convince a participant to stay against their will, or dismiss their concerns.

In the case of a participant’s decision to leave the trip early due to security concerns, the approval must be made by Birthright Israel, and YJ will do everything they can to make that departure as easy as possible, including financially. The $250 deposit made to Birthright Israel will not be returned.

No. We abide by all government restrictions and do not take our groups into the West Bank. We also closely monitor ongoing activities in East Jerusalem and the Old City, and will have made the decision, when prudent, to keep participants out of those areas during times of tension.

Each of our groups is accompanied by an armed guard who also serves as a medic. This person has received extensive training in handling security and medical needs of groups and they are hired through accredited security organizations. They travel with the group bus at all times, and stay at the same accommodations as the participants and staff.

All of our programs are designed to provide an unparalleled, immersive educational experience for our participants that will enable them to appreciate and understand Israel’s past and present. However, we do everything in our power not to be caught off guard, and put a strong effort into our contingency planning. For this reason, we were able to quickly alter our activities this summer to give our participants the best possible experience. While no one wants a conflict, we work hard to make contemporary events an integral part of our programming and discussions.

Cancelling a trip comes only after full consultation with all parties involved – our staff, our security sources, and participants, also taking into account the concerns of parents of our participants. While we do everything we can to ensure that our groups can continue to visit and tour Israel even in times of conflict, we are aware that a moment may come when being in Israel is not in the best interest of our participants’ safety, and we will not hesitate to cancel a trip should we deem it irresponsible not to.