Frequently Asked Questions

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Volunteering in Israel

Is it safe to travel to the Middle East?  Isn't it dangerous to be in the West Bank?

Traveling to Israel and spending time volunteering in Judea and Samaria (this area is also known as the West Bank) is much safer than you think.

In Israel, yes, there are terror attacks that happen, and tragically, there have been people killed. But having spent the last eighteen years working in Israel and hosting volunteer programs, we can guarantee you that coming to Israel is much safer than one would assume from watching international news. Because Israel is so much in the international spotlight, every single incident that happens tends to hit major news headlines around the globe. To the average person who has never been to Israel, it can give the impression that Israel is a very dangerous place.

Think about the nearest large city to where you live (or perhaps you live in a big city). If you follow your local news channel, you know that there are robberies, burglaries, and even shootings and murders that happen on a weekly, if not daily, basis. No matter where you are in the world, there is some degree of risk.

Our volunteer base camp is located within secure perimeters that are protected by the Israeli military day and night. In addition to this, there is Israeli military presence guarding the roads and highways that we travel to get to and from different locations as we volunteer and tour.

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine to come on a trip with HaYovel?

No vaccine is required. As of March 1, 2022, Israel is welcoming foreigners from abroad regardless of vaccination status or COVID recovery status.

Are there any COVID-19 testing requirements for traveling to Israel?

No testing is required. As of May 20, 2022, all PCR testing and quarantine requirements have been lifted for foreigners entering Israel from abroad.

What ages are your volunteer trips suitable for?

We welcome volunteers of all ages. Our organization is very family-friendly, and our staff families have children of all ages. We encourage families to come and experience Israel together by bringing their children. There is something for everyone to do in the vineyard! We have many families with babies who accompany mom and dad to the fields in a stroller or carrier.

Elders and senior citizens are valuable assets to the team as well! You do need to be aware that our volunteer work is mainly done on rocky mountainsides, and in the summer, it does get very hot. We encourage those who are coming to prepare themselves physically by spending time outside, taking walks, and getting some exercise in the weeks leading up to their Israel trip. If you are concerned that “mountain climbing” might be too strenuous, consider coming on one of our Heartland Experience trips. The workload is much lighter, it’s not in the summer heat, and you will still get the opportunity to serve Israel.

If you have certain medical conditions or are over a certain age, we may ask you to send us a letter from your doctor giving you permission to travel internationally. If you are older and thinking about coming to Israel, watch this encouraging video from Sharril Sherwood, one of our elder volunteers.

Do I need a visa to enter Israel? If so, how do I get one?

All you need to do is fill out an application here on our website and we will take care of the rest. After you submit your application for one of our volunteer trips, we will process your application, send your information to Israel’s Ministry of the Interior and request a volunteer visa in your name.

When you land in Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport, Israeli customs and border control will have your information on file and will issue you a visa to enter the country. After you submit your application, we’ll be in touch and send you additional details about what to do once you land in Israel.

Please note that Israel only issues volunteer visas for citizens of certain countries. If you are coming from North America, Europe, Australia or Hong Kong, you are most likely eligible for a visa. If you are coming from South America, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, please contact our volunteer enrollment team (enrollment@hayovel.com) and to find out if Israel allows citizens from your country to come volunteer.

Is it "Judea and Samaria" or the "West Bank"?

Judea and Samaria are the biblical and historical names for the area of central Israel surrounding Jerusalem. Samaria is the geographic area north of Jerusalem while Judea is the geographic area south of Jerusalem.

These are very biblically significant areas and most of the stories in your Bible (estimated to be about 85% of the Bible) took place in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. For an area about the size of the state of Delaware, that makes it a pretty significant place to visit and volunteer!

This region was renamed “The West Bank” in 1948 by the Kingdom of Jordan, when it ruled the area for a short time after Israel’s War of Independence. The name “West Bank” is often used in the media and by those who wish to subtly delegitimize Israel’s 4,000-year presence in the area. We prefer to use the biblical term “Judea and Samaria” for this special region of Israel because it helps communicate and emphasize its biblical importance.

What is the volunteer work like?

We volunteer on small farms owned by Jewish people throughout the mountains of central Israel. Historically, this area was known for its world-class vineyards and the prophets of the Bible specifically mention grapes, vineyards, and wine when speaking about the restoration that God promised He would bring back to the Land of Israel. This restoration is happening today and one of the biggest needs that the farmers have is for help in the vineyards.

This is quite significant because the prophet Isaiah wrote over 2,700 years ago about the day when foreigners would come to Israel from other nations to tend and harvest the vineyards (see Isaiah 61:5). This is happening for the first time in our generation!

From late July to late October is the harvest season where the grapes ripen (different grapes ripen at different times throughout these several months). If you come during this time of the year, volunteer work will mostly consist of harvesting grapes on farms throughout Israel.

The winter pruning season begins in mid-January and goes until mid-March. This is when all the vines lose their leaves and go dormant. Each vine needs to be pruned by hand and have all the branches cut back. This is a crucial process to maintain the health of the vine and ensure a bountiful harvest later in the year. If you come during this season (our men’s trip) volunteer work will consist mostly of pruning vines.

Other volunteer work that we do at various times of the year includes planting trees, planting new vineyards, and harvesting various types of produce.

Working on the farms of Israel is fun and not overly-strenuous. You’ll enjoy it! We try to get up early each morning and make it out to the fields by sunrise so that we can work during the coolest and most pleasant part of the day. We usually wrap up work in the early afternoon and have the rest of the day to explore biblical and historical sites in the area (or go back to camp for a nap, fellowship with other volunteers, or relaxation time before dinner).

How much does it cost to come to Israel with HaYovel?

The typical cost to come on one of our volunteer trips is $1,200 per person for a 2-week trip and $1,600 per person for a 3-week trip. Our Heartland Experience trip costs more ($2,750 per person for a 2-week trip) because it includes touring, site and museum admission fees, and several nights in a hotel. On average, our trip costs are about half of what it costs to come on a typical Israel tour of the same length.

This trip cost includes all your food, housing and transportation as well as your visa to enter the country. This cost <strong>does not include airfare</strong> from your hometown to the airport in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The cost for airfare to Israel depends on where you live and what time of year you are flying. The average cost to fly from the United States or Canada is between $800 and $1,200 per person, round-trip.

Coming as a family? We have great family discounts! Children ages 6 to 12 get 50% off, children 0 to 5 get 80% off, and every 4th adult family member (13 and older) is free!

Do you have family discounts?

Yes! We love families to come to Israel and share the experience. We want to do everything possible to help you come to Israel together! The cost for children ages 6-12  is 50% off, and the cost for children 0-5 is 80% off. Also, one out of every four adults (age 13 and up) is free of charge.

You must be immediate family members to qualify. Friends or extended family coming together do not qualify for this discount.

Do I need a passport to come to Israel with HaYovel?

Yes. You will need a valid passport issued by your country of citizenship. Passport cards are not sufficient; you will need a full passport book. If you don’t have a passport yet, or if you only have a passport card, you should begin the application process as soon as possible as it may take some weeks or months depending on your country.

If you have a passport that is expiring sometime within the next year, you may need to renew your passport. Israel requires you to have a minimum of 6 months between your date of entry into Israel and the expiration date of your passport.

What if my passport is expiring soon?

Due to requirements established by Israel’s government, you must have a minimum of 6 months remaining between your date of arrival in Israel and the expiration date on your passport. For example, if you are arriving in Israel on August 1, 2022 then your passport expiration date cannot be any sooner than February 1, 2023. If your passport expiration date is coming up soon, you should begin the renewal process right away.

Is there a minimum age for young volunteers coming without their parents?

Yes, you must be age 18 or older to come unaccompanied. Age 17 years and under must be accompanied by at least one parent/legal guardian.

What documents and information do I need to submit an application to volunteer with HaYovel?

You can apply for a volunteer trip through our online volunteer application portal (click here). Filling out an application will take approximately 30-45 minutes. You will need the following things to complete your application:

  • Your passport number and expiration date (must be valid for at least 6 months after your arrival date in Israel)
  • A clearly scanned, full-color copy of your passport (the two pages that have your photo and your signature).
  • Name and email for a reference (if this is your first time on a HaYovel trip, we will need someone who knows you well to write a short character reference letter on your behalf. For example, a pastor or elder from your church or fellowship. You can provide the name and email when you apply and HaYovel will contact your reference via email).
  • The date of your most recent visit to Israel, if applicable.
  • A list of any prescription medications you are currently taking.
  • Details about any pertinent health conditions you have.
  • Emergency contact information (name and phone number for two different people).

FOR CHILDREN UNDER 18 (documents required by the state of Israel):

  • A clearly scanned, full-color copy of their birth certificate
  • A clearly scanned, full-color copy of the parents’ marriage certificate
  • If only one parent is coming, you will need to submit a signed letter of consent from the parent who is not coming (you can submit your application without this and we will email you with more details on what this letter needs to say).

You also need to pay a $200 processing fee to submit your application –– all applicants age 18 and older need to pay the $200 processing fee. Applicants under the age of 18 do not need to pay any processing fee. The processing fee is capped at a maximum of $500 per family.

This fee is used to cover the costs associated with processing your application and applying for your volunteer visa with Israel’s Ministry of the Interior. The processing fee is non-­refundable, but it will be deducted from your total trip cost. We must receive your processing fee before we are able to move forward in processing your application.

If we come as a family, what will my children do?

There is almost always something for everyone to do when we are planting trees or working in the vineyards, no matter how young or old. We have many families volunteer with us and babies or toddlers come with mom and dad to the fields in a stroller or carrier. Older children are encouraged to join in and help, and those who do often enjoy a sense of accomplishment at having participated and made a difference through volunteering. Ultimately, however, it’s up to the parents and the needs of each individual family.

What is grape harvesting like?

This video is a great overview of the grape harvesting process from start to finish.

What is pruning like?

This video from our 2018 pruning season will give you an idea of what the pruning process is like.

What are the accomodations like?

You’ll be staying in a room at our volunteer campus on the Mount of Blessing, located in central Israel. Our accommodations are similar to a hostel and are simple, but still comfortable and with all basic amenities. Restrooms and showers are located in a separate building. If you come with your spouse or your family, you’ll be rooming with them. If you come by yourself, you will room with one or two fellow volunteers.

Linens are provided. Towels, soap, shampoo, and other amenities are not provided – you will need to bring your own.

There are no additional costs for lodging. Everything is included in the price of the trip.

Our Organization

How was HaYovel founded and what do you do?

Tommy Waller first traveled to Israel in 2004 with the sole mission of discovering an avenue of service to the Jewish people. He found it in Israel’s Shomron region – in agriculture.

Immediately, Tommy and his family began yearly trips to Israel to assist the independent Jewish farmers with their grape harvest. Subsequent harvest seasons attracted more family and friends until HaYovel Inc. was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)3 humanitarian organization.

Today, we bring hundreds of volunteers each year from around the world into Judea and Samaria to help plant, prune, and harvest wine grapes, olives, and pomegranates. Our volunteers come with one agenda: to serve and support the Jewish people for who they are, in their God-given land. HaYovel is the first organization to be issued volunteer visas for work in Judea and Samaria by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior. Our staff and volunteers have dedicated their lives to the vision of the restoration of Israel.

What do we do?

  1. Serve and bless the Jewish people.
  2. Bring people from all over the world to participate in the prophetic restoration on the mountains of Israel.
  3. Raise up ambassadors who are equipped to actively and effectively educate others about Israel.

What does "HaYovel" mean?

Our organization’s name is “HaYovel,” which in Hebrew means “The Jubilee” – a biblical term that looks forward to a day of worldwide redemption and a fully-restored land of Israel. It is pronounced HAH-yo-VELL.

How long has HaYovel been working in Israel?

The Waller family (founders of HaYovel) has been working in Israel and helping the farmers of the Shomron region since 2004. HaYovel Inc. was founded as a U.S. 501(c)3 humanitarian organization in 2007.

Donations & Taxes

Is my donation to HaYovel tax-deductible?

Yes. HaYovel is a 501(c)3 U.S. non-profit organization and all donations made to HaYovel are tax-deductible. We’ll send you a receipt for your donation after you make it, as well as a year-end summary of all you’ve given to HaYovel sometime between January 1st and January 31st each year.

If you’d like to request a receipt of your tax-deductible contributions at any time, please let us know by sending an email to accounting@hayovel.com.

How do I receive a receipt of past donations I've made to HaYovel?

We’ll send you a receipt for your donation after you make it, as well as a year-end summary of all you’ve given to HaYovel sometime between January 1st and January 31st each year.

If you’d like to request a receipt of your tax-deductible contributions at any time, please let us know by sending an email to accounting@hayovel.com.

What is HaYovel's EIN number?

HaYovel is a United States 501(c)3 non-profit registered under EIN 20-4318425

What is my donation to HaYovel used for?

100% of your donation goes towards HaYovel’s work helping farmers in Israel, hosting Christian volunteers from around the world, and equipping ambassadors to share the truth about Israel in their communities around the globe.

If you’d like your donation to go towards something specific (supporting one of our staff members who is on the ground in Israel, purchasing new equipment for our farm work, planting trees, etc.), please use the “note” field when giving your donation to indicate where you’d like your money to go.

What is HaYovel's yearly revenue, expenses and current assets?

As a 501(c)3 non-profit all this information is available to the public. Click here to see HaYovel’s yearly revenue, expenses, current assets and more.

Does HaYovel accept non-cash donations?

Yes, we accept non-cash donations, including cars, trucks, and RVs (click here for more information on giving vehicles) as well as assets and planned giving.

Please contact us at info@hayovel.com for more details on giving non-cash donations.