Welcome to Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS)! This page is designed to help you get ready for your time at RIS – even before you leave home. The information here is relevant for undergraduate, preparatory program, and short-term students. If you are a graduate student, please see the Pre-Departure for Graduate Students page.
Pre-Departure Hebrew University Paperwork
If you’ve been admitted, fill out this document and submit it to us before you arrive:
- Health Insurance Application (within 30 days prior to your arrival in Israel)
Pre-Departure Travel Documents
If you do not have a valid passport, apply for one immediately! If you already have a passport, make sure that it will be valid for your entire stay abroad. If not, apply for a new one that will cover the duration of your trip.
If you are an Israeli citizen, were born in Israel, or have parents who are Israeli citizens, you must contact your local Israeli consulate before departure. They will clarify and formalize citizenship status, give information about deferment from military service, issue appropriate travel documents, and advise you as to the appropriate visa. If you may be subject to military service, you must obtain an official letter of deferment for at least six months by presenting an official letter of acceptance from HebrewU. In Jerusalem, contact the Army Induction Office, Tel.: (02) 569 4472, with questions or problems.
Children of Israelis Living Abroad
If you are defined by the Israeli consulate as Ben Mehagrim, which is loosely translated as “the child of Israelis living abroad,” you are entitled to request permission from the consulate to study in Israel for three years, without being obligated to do army service. After the three-year period, you will be required either to leave the country or to enlist in the army. For more information, please contact your local Israeli consulate.
Please keep in mind that if you make Aliyah (decide to immigrate to Israel) after these three years of study, some of your Aliyah rights will be affected. In addition, the army will determine your length of service (after you finish the three years of study) based on your age of arrival.
Please see our page on visa requirements.
Be sure your name is spelled correctly!
Pre-Departure Registration Documents
Please bring the following documents on the plane with you:
- Admission letter from Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS)
- Receipt(s) for payment of your tuition and dormitory fees
- A copy of your financial aid award letter and/or letter of scholarship, if applicable
- Your ulpan placement letter, if applicable
- Any documents received from the Israeli consulate or embassy
Student ID Cards
Consider getting an International Student ID card, available in both your country and Israel (where it will cost approximately NIS 45). This card entitles you to discounts on travel, museums, and stores during travel outside of Israel.
Israel has strict security measures that may affect visitors. Prolonged questioning and detailed searches may take place at the time of departure for or entry into Israel. Therefore, be sure to arrive at the airport at least three hours before your flight to Israel and with the proper paperwork.
Some things should remain easily accessible in your carry-on upon boarding the flight:
- Your passport, which you will need when you check in at the airport and again upon arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport
- All documents that relate to your admission and registration at HebrewU
If you wish:
- Clean clothes in your carry-on case so that you can freshen up during the flight
- Movies, books, music, cards, or other small board games
- Valuables and fragile items (laptops, radios, cameras, etc.) to protect them from damage during the flight
Please check with your airline for size and weight limits before you pack.
Excess or Oversized Baggage
Airlines impose an extra charge for excess and oversized baggage during check-in. If you find you must go over the required size or weight allowance, we recommend that you pay the excess baggage charge rather than ship your belongings. Guitars are considered extra baggage and will not be allowed as a carry-on.
We suggest that you pack in duffel bags instead of suitcases. This gives you more room for bulky belongings while remaining within the size limitations. Think carefully about what to pack for your trip. Airline allowances are tight, and you will be responsible for carrying your luggage to your destination when you arrive. We encourage you to work in teams to carry the bags. It’s a great way to make new friends!
For daily life, dress in Israel is casual and informal. However, we recommend that for visiting religious sites, women bring modest clothes (a skirt below the knee and a blouse that covers the collar bones and elbows) and that men bring one pair of dress pants and a dress shirt (tie and jacket optional). In general, though, think simple and comfortable. The temperature in Jerusalem can range from -1 Celsius/30 Fahrenheit in January to 32 Celsius/90 Fahrenheit in July-August. The rainy season, from November to March, is sometimes cold enough for snow.
Average Jerusalem Temperatures
- Casual shoes, sneakers, slippers, waterproof boots
- Casual wear (sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, pants, sweatshirts, jeans)
- Heavy winter coat or jacket
- Bathing suits
- Short-sleeved shirts
- Light pants, jeans, skirts, shorts
- Sandals, flip flops
- Sunglasses and hat (essential)
- Windbreaker or light jacket
- Camping/hiking clothes
Camping & Hiking Gear
Israel is an excellent place for hiking and other sports. You may wish to bring:
- Good-sized backpack or daypack
- Hiking shoes
- Sleeping bag (also useful as a blanket)
Bedding, Towels, & Other Necessities
You will need to bring or purchase blankets, sheets, pillowcases, towels, and a pillow, as linens and towels are not supplied. We recommend that, to conserve space when packing, you consider using a sleeping bag as your blanket and purchase a pillow and sheets upon your arrival. During the registration period, the Office of Student Life (OSL) arranges orientation activities for all new incoming students, including a shopping tour to a nearby mall, where you can purchase basic necessities (kitchen utensils, groceries, etc.).
Ordering Linens & Equipment in Advance
There are also three companies, not connected to HebrewU’s RIS, that offer the possibility of ordering linens and other housing equipment in advance. They will deliver your purchases directly to you on registration day.
RIS is not responsible for the prices, quality, or delivery of any equipment offered by either of these companies and strongly recommends that you check out the terms of each company before making a purchase.
Israeli current is 220 volts, 50 cycles. Be sure to check the adaptability of any electrical item you bring, as some items (such as hairdryers) cannot be converted. We recommend checking with an electronics dealer beforehand, so as not to ruin an expensive appliance. You will be able to purchase adapters and converters at a hardware store in your home country or in Israel.
Medicines & Other Prescriptions
If you take prescription medication, be sure to bring both a supply for your entire stay in Israel and the prescription with you. You may want to bring familiar brands of over-the-counter medications you take. Vitamins also tend to be very expensive in Israel. We recommend that you bring your eyeglass or contact lens prescription in case replacement is necessary.
A full range of drugstore products are available in Israel. If you prefer your country’s brands of toiletries and/or feminine hygiene products, you may wish to bring a full supply with you, but it is not absolutely necessary. Here are some other items you might wish to bring:
- Laundry bag
- Travel sewing kit
- Stain-remover stick
Bringing a Laptop
While there are computer facilities on campus, we recommend that students with access to laptop computers bring them to Jerusalem. Students have found this to be quite useful for writing papers and accessing the Internet at their convenience. The customs officials may require you to register your laptop as a “luxury item,” and you may have to pay duty on it if you leave it in Israel. For more information about customs regulations regarding laptops, please contact your local Israeli consulate.
The Boyar Building has many ports enabled for connection to the Internet. There is also wireless internet available in the school cafeteria. Students with laptops can connect to the Internet in both of these on-campus locations. The Student Village housing complex is wired for direct internet connection. (PCs are rumored to be easier than Macs to configure in the dormitories.) The Bronfman and Maiersdorf complexes do not have Wi-Fi, but each has a computer room. In rooms without an Ethernet connection, you may order and pay for dial-up service through a landline, although many students choose to use their cell phones exclusively and do not order telephone service.
Books in English are generally more expensive in Israel than in the US. You may find it worthwhile to bring:
- Hebrew/English dictionary
- Let’s Go Israel (or another travel guide)
- Hebrew/English Bible
- Prayer books (most synagogues do not provide them)
Insuring Your Belongings
We recommend that you insure your personal belongings for theft or loss for your entire stay at HebrewU, since the university assumes no responsibility in such instances. If you already have an insurance policy, check with your insurance company about whether it extends to travel, and whether you need receipts or appraisals for the items you want covered. As a general rule, we recommend that you leave expensive and valuable items at home, and think carefully before bringing anything you could not bear to lose.