Language. English, Arabic, and of course Hebrew are spoken in all tourist areas.
Climate. In general Israel has a Mediterranean climate, but the temperature varies by elevation. We recommend checking the weather forecast for the cities you will be in. In general, there is no rain in the summer. The days are very hot and the evenings/ nights range between warm and cool depending on elevation (Jerusalem is cool, Tel-Aviv is warm and humid).
Electricity. 220/240 volts at 50 Hz. The sockets nowadays are "H" type plugs that can accommodate type "C" plugs common to much of Europe. When in doubt, bring plug adapters.
Currency. Israel uses the New Israeli Shekel (NIS). There are coins for 1, 2, 5, and 10 NIS and notes for 20, 50, 100 and 200 NIS. Coins are issued 10 and 50 Agorot (cents). (100 Agorot to a NIS.) Currently 1 NIS is worth about $0.28.
We recommend that you use a credit card that doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee and withdraw cash from ATM using a debit card. (Our debit card reimburses for ATM fees.) We always get cash from the ATM machine at the airport when we first arrive. But there are ATMs near all hotels (and most other places).
Currency can be exchanged at banks and currency exchangers for a fee.
Travelers' checks can be used at any post office and Western Union office. Few businesses accept them in payment.
Clothing. The university and many of the places you will visit expect modest dress. Women may wear slacks or skirts that are knee length or longer. Shirts and blouses can be long or short sleeved. Sleeveless tops and shorts are not appropriate at the university. If you visit Jewish holy sites, you will be expected to cover your head out of respect. Typically head coverings will be offered you at Jewish sites. Moslem holy sites expect you to wear long or short sleeves, not cut offs.
Gratuities. Tipping in Israeli restaurants and cafes is between 10-12% depending on how pleased (or not) you are with the service. If you take a tour, tip the driver 10 NIS and the guide 15 NIS.
The Sabbath in Jerusalem. Friday night to Saturday night in the Jewish areas of Jerusalem is peaceful. It is a special time when families take walks and non-religious families visit other parts of the country. While public transportation is closed, your hotel can help you find a taxi. Most stores and all kosher restaurants are closed, but others are open. You may wish to use this time to visit the Old City's Arab quarter, rest, visit friends, or, if you plan ahead, tour other parts of the country. See https://www.touristisrael.com/shabbat-in-jerusalem/11023/ for more information.
Some of the Many Must-See Attractions in Jerusalem. The Old City, The Israel Museum, Machane Yehudah Market, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. We also enjoy the Biblical Zoo, the Chagall windows in the synogogue at Hadassah Medical Campus in Ein Kerem neighborhood, the City of David archaeological site with remains of Jerusalem during the First Temple and Second Temple Period. Some will want to visit Bethany, a Second Temple period settlement located on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem. According to Christian tradition Elazar (Lazarus) and his sisters Martha and Mary lived here. Families with kids will enjoy the Time elevator. It uses motion based seating, panoramic screens, special effects carefully synchronized to the action of the film. This gives you the sensation of viewing the movie as a participant rather than a spectator.
Israeli Street Food. Street food is safe, nutritious, and tasty.
Prices. The prices in Jerusalem are closer to that of New York than Ho Chi Minh City. Expect to pay at least $15 for a modest meal.