Before Leaving Home

Contact your denominational office and let them know you are going to Israel/Palestine. Ask them if there are any organizations or schools which they sponsor which you could visit.

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem
Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

Have your local church commission you for the trip. That way they will be prepared for you to share your experience when you return. The Stations of the Cross which appear in Catholic churches were begun by early pilgrims as a way to bring home their pilgrimage to those who could not go on such a trip. What can you bring home to share?

Borrow books from the library, including regular travel guides. Be careful, since the goal of such a travel guide is to promote travel in modern Israel and they often ignore Jesus sites, indigenous Christians, Eastern church denominations, and new Christian cities and towns. They are not aimed at American Christian visitors to the Holy Land. They are helpful, though for words in Hebrew and Arabic; advice about weather, menus, etc. (The Dewey Decimal number is 915.694 in most libraries.) This website is an alternative travel guide.

Look things up on the Internet very carefully. Most sites are sponsored by travel agents or the country of Israel and are biased to promote their own commercial or political interests.

If you want to make an international call to Jerusalem dial  011-972-2-then the local number.

Some reliable places American Christians should look at for help are:     
Christian Information Center at http://cicts.org   Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
        (All kinds of lists including churches, organizations, etc.)

Catholic Custos at http://www.custodia.org
        (For Catholics wanting a pilgrimage experience)

Diyar Academy in Bethlehem at http://This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
        (Sponsored by Diyar Consortium, a Christian organization in Bethlehem)

 Websites by reliable Palestinian groups (not Christian-sponsored):
        http://travelpalestine.ps/ (official Palestinian organization)

        http://visitpalestine.ps/ (sponsored by First National Bank of Palestine)

        http://ATG,ps  for the Alternative Tourism Group (focuses on meeting Palestinians)

        www.BethlehemArise.com  for Good Shepherd Travel

Check with the Department of State (travel.state.gov or www.state.gov) for current information and be sure your passport is up to date with six months until expiration, at the time of your arrival. It should not have any stamps or visas from other Middle Eastern countries. If it does, ask the Department of State for an additional passport, since Israel prohibits entry to those with proof of visiting certain other countries. Leave a copy of your passport and itinerary with family or friends in case of emergency and tell your bank and credit card company of your trip so they don’t get suspicious of charges made in unusual places. 

Although many medications are available, bring enough prescription drugs for your whole trip. Consider medical insurance and travel insurance as you would for any other place. 

Don’t forget that scarf if you are a woman. You will feel out of place without it sometimes and it doesn’t take up much space. (When I wore a hat on a Palestinian bus, people looked at me with suspicious faces. The next day, I wore a scarf and felt welcomed.)

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