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When NOT to come on your Israel pilot trip…


I never thought I’d be saying this.  Keep in mind:  I’m not saying don’t come at all!  A pilot trip is one of the best investments you can make in your own aliyah!  Please come visit before you move here. 

But what I’m saying is… think before you plan.  Be nice to those of us hosting and welcoming you to our communities.  Pretty please?

Why mention this now?

We’re in the middle of the last week of school, and also, I suppose, the start of the aliyah season, because we have several pilot-trip families converging on KShmu over the next couple of weeks.  Which is terrific – I’m always so, so,  happy to show off our community if I can.

But sometimes, I can’t.  Or at least – feel stretched to the limit, or past the limit, and have to do it anyway, because this is a small town, and if I don’t, who will?  (There are a few nice people here who host pilot trip folks regularly, so that’s not exactly true.)

You’d think the last week of school wouldn’t be particularly busy, but it IS.  Kids’ end-of-year parties, extra shopping trips for various things, school trips that have been postponed till the very last second.  It’s just a crazy week.

On top of which, we’re in the middle of packing and planning to spend part of our summer vacation in Toronto.

So, yeah, it’s a crazy time. 

Remember – this is Israel.  It’s a small country, and pretty standardized in terms of school vacation schedules.  That means everybody here does the same things on basically the same schedule.  When it’s a crazy time for our family, it’s most likely a crazy time for everybody else in the neighbourhood (perhaps in the entire country!).

What are some problems if you do end coming at a super-busy time of year?

  • If you come at a crazy time, you’re not going to see us at our best, that’s for sure.  We’ll be busy, cranky, distracted.
  • If you come when things are busy or out-of-the-routine, you won’t be able to meet with as many families or see what things are like when they’re “normal.”
  • If you’re looking for particular “types” of people (retired people, folks with kids in school, computer workers, whatever), there will be fewer to choose from.
  • It might be hard to find folks to host you, which is important to think about when you’re coming to an area without hotels and few Airbnb options, like KShmu.
  • Also, in particular, if you come during the last week of school, the odds that you’ll get to meet with a school principal are slim to none, and this is a request I’ve had more than a few times.
  • Depending on what exactly is going on, and how you’re getting around you may find public transit and/or significantly more crowded and obnoxious than usual.

You’re probably investing a lot in your pilot trip and making some big decisions based on what you can get done during this time.  So you kind of owe it to yourself to find out when we’ll be able to host you and pay as much attention as possible to YOUR concerns before aliyah.

Now, you may be asking… if right now is literally the worst time to come to Israel on a pilot trip, when is the BEST time to come?

I’m going to say February. 

We did our pilot trip in February and everybody we met with seemed very relaxed.  By February you’re kind of into the school year, not many surprises.  Depending on the timing of Purim, February can be a nice gap between holidays.  And of course, Israel is beautiful, absolutely green and gorgeous in February. 

As a bonus: February isn’t brutally HOT.  Folks coming on pilot trips right about now are treated to hot, muggy, disgusting weather.  The kind of weather than makes you want to turn tail and head back to Texas or wherever.  I think you’ll also get better prices on plane fares and hotels in February, but I can’t be 100% sure.

Again, I’m not – absolutely NOT! – saying don’t come.  I’m just saying… try to plan the timing thoughtfully and be considerate of those of us trying to make time (and space) for you at this end.

Oh, and while we’re talking about pilot trips, make sure you check out this important list of 10 things you MUST include for the perfect pilot trip to Israel.

If you have any timing suggestions for people thinking about pilot trips, please leave them in the comments!

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. Good points. Just remember that winter may be cold and nasty, even snow, in Jerusalem, but I agree that the last half of June is a time when it's hard for Israelis to find free time. November may also be a good time and not as cold.

    1. We came in February and it was just about perfect. We had some rain, and yes, Jlem was definitely jacket weather, but the country is very beautiful in February and March. (As long as the visit doesn't clash with Purim or Pesach!)


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