VFI-USA.ORG

VFI PLUS Programs for 2023


Program Schedule for Spring & Fall, 2023

VFI PLUS ARCHAEOLOGY (14 days) March 12 to March 25, 2023 - See Below

VFI PLUS ARCHAEOLOGY (14 days) October 15 to October 28, 2023 - See Below


VFI PLUS ADVANCED (17 days) May 5 to 21, 2023. See tinyurl.com/vfi2023ADV

VFI PLUS ADVANCED (17 days) November 10 to 28, 2023. See tinyurl.com/vfi2023ADV

VFI PLUS ARCHAEOLOGY (14 days) Program 

March 12 to 25, 2023

October 15 to 28, 2023

DETAILED ITINERARY

1/20/2023

Program Scope: This program is suitable for both first-time and experienced visitors to Israel. Custom touring focuses on well-known and less-visited yet compelling historic sites for the limited group size. The first week is dedicated to volunteering in uniform on an IDF base, followed by weekend touring. Week two volunteering is at the Jerusalem, City of David archaeological dig. Work with professional archaeologists from Tel Aviv University seeking biblical artifacts where people actually walked in 586 BCE, just after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple. Enjoy private tours and instructional visits to otherwise restricted sites. After additional weekend touring, and a farewell dinner, the program concludes at the airport.

PROGRAM COSTS:

The costs in Israel are influenced by the current shekel-USD exchange rate where a U.S. dollar buys about 3 Israeli shekels.


The All-Inclusive program fee bundles all major costs including all hotel rooms, all transportation in an air-conditioned bus, most food, all touring, private tour guide, archaeology support and tours, lectures, gratuities, etc. NOTE: Airfare, personal health and trip insurance, Covid tests, and personal gifts are not included. The following fees are paid separately: VFI Application fee: $125. and Sar-El fee: $100.


PRICING FOR THE OCTOBER, 2023 PROGRAM: The All-Inclusive program fee for each person, sharing a double room is $TBA. In addition, a single supplement is available for $TBA. subject to availability. The fee is based on a group minimum size of 12 and subject to adjustment for fewer participants.


PRICING FOR THE MARCH, 2023 PROGRAM: The All-Inclusive program fee for each person, sharing a double room is $2,994. In addition, a single supplement is available for $3,426. subject to availability. The fee is based on a group minimum size of 12 and subject to adjustment for fewer participants.


DEPOSIT - A $500 refundable deposit holds your reservation on a first-come, first-served basis and applies to the total. Group size is limited and a wait-list is maintained. Send your deposit check made out to "Volunteers for Israel" to VFI’s Financial Secretary, Irene Newman at 28814 N 108th Place, Scottsdale AZ 85262.

 [email protected] 312-446-9159

Please indicate your program name and date. Two other payment options are Venmo to @VFI-USA-2, and Zelled to account number 536307082, routing number 071000013


RESERVATIONS - On a first-come basis until the maximum group size of 18 is reached. A wait-list is maintained. CONTACT ILANA BLUMENTHAL AT [email protected] 267.294.8425

QUESTIONS: CALL Steve Plotkin at 267.252.0597

DETAILED ITINERARY


1.      Sunday, March 12 - Week One - Sunday, October 15

Morning group meeting with luggage at 10:00 AM at the Ben Gurion airport Arrivals Lounge before bus transfer to your IDF. Lunch on base, IDF orientation, receive your uniform, and volunteer assignments. Kosher dinner in Mess Hall. Evening education program.


2.     Monday, March 13 Monday, October 16

Breakfast, flag raising, volunteer assignments on IDF base. Lunch, dinner. Evening education program.

3.     Tuesday, March 14 Tuesday, October 17

Breakfast, flag raising, volunteer assignments on IDF base. Lunch, dinner. Evening education program.

 

4.     Wednesday, March 15 Wednesday, October 18

Breakfast, flag raising, volunteer assignments on IDF base. Lunch, dinner. Evening education program.

 

5.     Thursday, March 16 Thursday, October 19

Breakfast, flag raising, final volunteer morning assignments on IDF base. Return uniforms and conclude IDF volunteering. After lunch depart by bus and begin touring. Visit Caesarea National Park, located at one of the most beautiful spots in Israel on the Mediterranean coast, famous for its amazing Roman period ruins and the wonderfully preserved theatre – working to this day. We will see the new finds and restorations made during Covid in and around Caesarea- the ancient synagogue which might be the one which triggered the Great Revolt, the newly discovered mosaics, the restored Temple's stairs and more. Time permitting, we will visit the unique Rally Art Museum in modern Caesarea.  Restaurant dinner and overnight in Kibbutz Gadot Galilian Resort.


6.     Friday, March 17 Friday October 20

Breakfast at Kibbutz. Tour all day. Spring is the best time to enjoy the lush Galilean landscape. Today we will enjoy an easy nature walk to the summit of Mt. Arbel, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and learn about the ancient history of the Arbel community, as well as visit the ruined synagogue. We will sail the calm waters of the one and the only Israeli lake, surrounded by the biblical landscape of Galilee and Golan. Our next stop will be Kibbutz Misgav Am – a little community, the fence of which is the Israeli - Lebanese border. At a lookout overlooking Lebanon we will meet an expert, who will share his knowledge of the complicated geopolitics of the region. He will shed some light on Hezbollah / Syria / IDF / Lebanese government interactions. Restaurant Shabbat dinner and overnight in Kibbutz Gadot Galilian Resort.


7.     Saturday, March 18 Saturday, October 21

Breakfast at the Kibbutz. Tour all day. Visit Beit Shean – one of the largest and most significant archaeological sites in Israel. The central location and the abundance of springs make Beit Shean / Scythopolis famous throughout history, starting from biblical times. We will drive the scenic road of Mt. Gilboa, talk about King Saul's and Jonathan's last battle, and view the Jezreel Valley – one of the cradles of the modern Zionist movement. We will enjoy a home hosted lunch cooked by Etty – a cook and chef - confectioner, a fund raiser across the U.S. for community projects in Israel, and a former cook for the Jewish Federation, who will make us lunch and share her story. Drive to Jerusalem. "Shehehianu" ceremony in Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel. After dinner private evening lecture and archaeology orientation at 8:00 PM by Prof. Yuval of Tel Aviv University.

8.    Sunday, March 19 Week Two Sunday, October 22

Transport at 6:45 am to the City of David archaeology site. Perform volunteer assignments and instructional tours - see above program schedule. Breakfast and lunch at dig site. Transport back to hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel.


9. Monday, March 20 Monday, October 23

Transport at 6:45 am to the City of David archaeology site. Perform volunteer assignments and instructional tours - see above program schedule. Breakfast and lunch at dig site. Transport back to hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel.


10.  Tuesday, March 21 Tuesday, October 24

Transpo rt at 6:45 am to City of David archaeology site. Perform volunteer assignments and instructional tours - see above program schedule. Breakfast and lunch at dig site. Transport back to hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel.


11.  Wednesday, March 22 Wednesday, October 25

Transport at 6:45 am to City of David archaeology site. Perform volunteer assignments and instructional tours - see above program schedule. Breakfast and lunch at dig site. Transport back to hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel.


12. Thursday, March 23 Thursday, October 26

Transport at 6:45 am to City of David archaeology site. Perform volunteer assignments and instructional tours - see above program schedule. Breakfast and lunch at dig site. Transport back to hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel. Volunteer archaeology services are concluded.


13. Friday, March 24 Friday, October 27

Breakfast at hotel. Tour all day. Old City hidden gems – Karaits' underground synagogue, 4 Sephardic synagogues, meet a scribe, ascend to the rooftops of the Old City, and much more. Place a note at the Western Wall. Optional – Kabbalat Shabbat at the Wall. Shabbat dinner and overnight in Jerusalem's Little House in Bakah Hotel.


14. Saturday, March 25 Saturday, October 28

Breakfast at hotel. Tour all day. Today we explore the fertile Plain of Jericho. Jericho is the lowest city in the world, and one of the most ancient and hot ones as well. This was the first city taken by the Tribes of Israel after crossing the River Jordan and where Elisha healed the spring water. We will take the cable car to Mt. of Temptation, walk Tell El Sultan where Jericho was first funded, and visit Hisham's Palace - home to a beautiful 8th century mosaic floor - one of the largest mosaics in the world, which was recently restored and open to the public only one year ago.

2,000 Years ago, the fertile plain of Jericho was famous for its dates' plantations, and for a mysterious plant called Balsam, which would provide the best and most precious perfume and incense for the Temple. Guy Erlich believes he had identified the plant and we will visit his farm in Kibbutz Almog near Jericho to learn about Balsam and its unique qualities, and enjoy the same smells which might have been experienced by our ancestors in the Temple. We will enjoy a restaurant Farewell Dinner, then transport to the airport, and board your flight home. Or remain in Israel.

PROGRAM REFERENCE MATERIALS:

To read a published article on our dig site in the City of David go here   https://tinyurl.com/davidcityof

See a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3LCbCz9lWs

 

You simply need to pack and show up, ready to volunteer.

RESERVATIONS ON A FIRST-COME BASIS. A WAIT-LIST IS MAINTAINED.



CONTACT ILANA BLUMENTHAL AT [email protected] 267.294.8425


QUESTIONS: CALL Steve Plotkin at 267.252.0597

PROGRAM TESTIMONIALS:


"What an amazing experience…volunteering with a great group of ambitious seniors and meeting the service men and women of the Israeli Air Force. VFI offers this wonderful opportunity of comraderie, education and eye opening experience of meeting responsible and dedicated young soldiers. Israel is OUR country and this is a terrific way of giving back…just a little!" Diane Kremin


"This is my second experience with VFI and this trip far exceeded my expectations. I felt so alive at Ramon airbase, and being able to assist the IDF was rewarding. Our group worked so well together and we accomplished our tasks.  After the Givati dig, I will never look at dirt the same way again! We had a wonderful, knowledgeable and patient team of archeologists guiding us. Just about every scoop of earth uncovered an ancient pottery shard or mosaic floor tile. I never wanted to stop - even at break time. Julia was the most excellent guide and every place we went was unique and special! What an adventure it all was and what terrific people I met. I hope to return to the program for trip #3 in the near future". Sue Theise


"Working on a dig and going to Megiddo were 2 of my bucket list items and reading about this trip, I was excited. But I was also concerned that the actual trip would be a letdown. Actually, my expectations were not met, they were vastly EXCEEDED!

As an Orthodox Jew, I previously Volunteered 8 times, but this time I was concerned about my religious practice.

The ad for the Archaeology trip noted several differences from the usual VFI 2 weeks on a base.  The group would be staying at hotels, traveling on Shabbat, and eating meals provided by Tel Aviv University. I had kosher concerns as well as how I could handle travel on Shabbat.

Actually, everything worked out fine. The hotels were kosher, as were TVU's meals. While unable to able to travel on Shabbat, I left for Jerusalem Friday morning and me rejoined the group Saturday night at the hotel.

All in all, IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE." Howard Lindenauer 


"VFI PLUS ARCHAEOLOGY is a wonderful program and an experience not to be missed! While the work we did on the IDF base was useful and necessary, the archaeology portion was especially rewarding with a group member finding a bronze bracelet that may well end up in a museum. The archaeologists took us to recently excavated areas and through tunnels unavailable to "regular" tourists. Standing on bedrock near the Jerusalem city walls, where our ancestors stood, and handling two thousand-year-old pottery, was absolutely awe-inspiring." Barbara Erdsneker