Israel

Programs Recommended 
Israel
Go Eco Tel-Aviv Animal Shelter
Go Eco Desert Alpaca Farm

FACTS ABOUT ISRAEL

Capital: Jerusalem

Population: 7,821,850
[Source: The World Factbook]

Religion: Jewish 75.1%, Muslim 17.4%, Christian 2%, Druze 1.6%, other 3.9%
[Source: The World Factbook]

Language: Hebrew (official), Arabic (used officially for Arab minority), English (most commonly used foreign language)
[Source: The World Factbook]

Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Egypt and Lebanon
[Source: The World Factbook]

Poverty Level: 21%

Note: Israel’s poverty line is $7.30 per person per day
[Source: The World Factbook]

Climate: The Israeli seasons are different from those in the United States and western Europe. Basically there are two seasons: winter (late Oct to mid-Mar), which is cool to cold and when the rains occur; and summer (Apr-Oct), which is warm to hot and virtually rain-free. Winter in Israel starts with showers in October and continues through periodic heavy rainfalls from November to March. Swimming is out in the Mediterranean during this time, except during occasional heat waves, although at times you can swim in Eilat and The Dead Sea in the winter. The Israeli winter doesn’t normally involve snow, except for Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights. There could be occasional flurries in Jerusalem and the Upper Galilee (and the chance of a heavier snowfall two or three times a decade in Jerusalem). Jerusalem even had a .6m (2-ft.) snowfall in 1920, and two huge storms in the 1990s, so anything is possible. Luckily, even the biggest snowfall melts away in a few days. Tel Aviv and the coast don’t get snow — people from those areas rush to Jerusalem to see it when it occurs.

During February and the beginning of March, the entire country seems to turn green from the winter rains, and wildflower displays in the Galilee and the Golan regions are truly spectacular. By late March, the flowers and the green will have faded. In the months that follow, the heat gathers intensity, reaching its peak in July and August, when the only relatively cool spots are Jerusalem (at night) and the high mountains around Safed. The landscape is dry and parched by May, but by September temperatures fall off a bit.

Israel also experiences hot, dry desert winds at the beginning and end of the summer, although a hamsin can occur anytime from March to November. These southern and eastern winds are named after the Arabic word for 50, since the wind was traditionally believed to blow for 50 days a year. Thankfully, it doesn’t. A hamsin (or sharav) heat wave means you must cut back on rushing around: Plan to be in air-conditioned museums, in the shadowy depths of a bazaar, or in the water during midday, and make sure you add to your water intake. Also, be sure to wear a hat and slather on sunscreen.

There are very few storm drains in Israel, so streets become mini rivers whenever it rains. Sturdy, rubber-soled shoes are a necessity. In Jerusalem and in areas of Old Tiberias, Jaffa, and Safed, the picturesque stone pavements and staircases become lethally slippery when wet. Walk on them as if they were covered with sheets of ice, and use railings provided on steep staircase passageways. Always check with tourist information offices or the Society for Protection of Nature before hiking in the desert in winter. The sun may be shining in the desert, but rain up in Jerusalem flows into the wadis (canyons) leading down to The Dead Sea and can build up into walls of water and boulders that sweep everything (including unwary tourists) away.
[Source: Frommer’s]

Vaccines: The CDC recommends that travelers receive Hepatitis A and Polio shots. They also recommend that depending on the area you’re traveling to some should also get Hepatitis, Rabies and Typhoid vaccines.
[Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention]

Currency: Israeli new Shekel