Everything you need to know about life and research in Israel, from scholarships to planning and logistics.
(last update: September 2020)
LIFE IN ISRAEL, LIFE ON CAMPUS
Every campus has an international student office and postdoc coordinator that offer resources and support to help you adjust to campus life and living in Israel. They will be in touch with you before you arrive with information on obtaining a visa, finding living accommodations, student health insurance and cell phone plans, and more. Academic and student counseling are available on each campus, as are offices for social and cultural activities.
You are required to obtain an A2 Visa in order to enter and study in Israel.* The visa is valid for up to one year and is good for multiple entrances and exits. You must renew the visa to stay a second year. All forms, applications, and guidelines for procedures will be sent to your directly from the International Office of your participating university.
(*Due to the COVID-19 situation, we don’t have updated information regarding acceptance of visa applications at Israeli consulate offices in various US cities. Contact your local consulate for current information.)
Every postdoctoral scholar is required, upon entering Israel, to be covered by health insurance for the entire period of enrollment at an Israeli university. This is a legal requirement set by the Ministry of the Interior as a condition for obtaining a visa*. It is your sole responsibility. Most universities offer students the opportunity to purchase health insurance through their plans. Cost ranges between two and three dollars per day.
*Please check with your local Israeli consulate regarding this requirement
Zuckerman Postdoctoral Scholars receive a scholarship of $52,000 per academic year for up to two years. Of this amount, $50,000 is provided by the Zuckerman STEM Leadership Program ($5,600 for research and travel to professional conferences plus $44,400 for living expenses, or $3,700 per month). An additional $2,000 in research funds is directed to scholars through their supervisors at their Israeli universities.
Here are a few online resources in English to help you find off-campus housing:
For those able to navigate sites in Hebrew:
COMMUNICATION/CELL PHONES/SIM CARDS
Before you choose a cellphone plan, its best to check with the international office at your university regarding discounted student plans. Companies such as Annatel are geared to English speakers and offer plans that include a US number. Hot Mobile and Golan Telecom have websites in English, while the others may offer English speaking customer service or salespeople.
Transit Card “Rav Kav”
Public transportation in Israel is cashless and requires a pre-loaded electronic card called a Rav-Kav. There are designated locations in every city where you can purchase a Rav-Kav card, including train stations, at central bus stations, as well as in the arrival hall at Ben Gurion Airport. The one-time cost of the card is 5 NIS. You can load a monthly pass or various amounts that will allow you to travel between as well as within cities. Download the Rav-Kav Online app to add money and keep track of your balance, load cash onto the card and apply for a student discount. Cards can also be loaded at dedicated kiosks and at many retail and convenience stores.
Trains are the best way to travel between Ben Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Akko (Acre) and Be’er Sheva, plus more places along the coast. The Rav Kav can be used on the train as well as the light rail in Jerusalem. Access the Israel Railways website in English for schedules and information.
Please note that public transport in Israel does not run on Shabbat, from sundown on Friday to one hour after sunset on Saturday.
Taxis – “Monit Sherut”
These shared taxi-vans typically seat ten passengers and follow main bus routes. They do run on weekends and Jewish holidays, as well as between some cities.
There are regular meter-run taxis in every city.
Bike Sharing and Scooter Rentals are a popular mode of transportation in Tel Aviv and other cities.
As a postdoc, you are entitled to open a student account at an Israeli bank, which will save you many fees. We recommend going to the bank with a friend or colleague that is familiar with the process to guide you. If you prefer to keep a bank account in your home country, please verify with your host university that they are able to transfer monthly scholarship payments to your foreign account.
American citizens must report their Israeli bank accounts when they file US income tax returns regardless of how long they have the account or their bank balance. We recommend speaking with an accountant or other financial advisor about tax questions related to your home countries.
US EMBASSY IN ISRAEL
There are embassy offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with information available online.
EMBASSY OF CANADA IN ISRAEL
The embassy is located in Tel Aviv, with information available online.
COMING TO ISRAEL WITH A SPOUSE
Zuckerman Postdocs who have moved to Israel in the past with their spouse are happy to provide you with information on the process and share their experience. If you are interested in connecting with scholars who moved to Israel with a spouse, please contact us and we will be happy to connect you.
COMING TO ISRAEL WITH A PET
Zuckerman Postdocs who have moved to Israel with a pet are happy to share information including per-friendly housing, local veterinarians, etc. If you are interested in connecting with scholars who moved to Israel with a pet, please contact us and we will be happy to connect you.
HEBREW LANGUAGE LESSONS
Every campus offers international students the opportunity to learn Hebrew through an Ulpan (intensive Hebrew program). It is not necessary to have a background in Hebrew language to sign up for Ulpan studies. A placement test will determine placement level, from beginner to advanced. Alternatively, there are a range of private Ulpan centers throughout the country.
WEEKENDS AND SHABBAT
The Israeli work week runs from Sunday through Thursday, with the weekend running from Friday to Saturday. University offices and courses are open Sunday through Thursday, and some academic activities are offered on Friday mornings. Israel observes the Jewish Sabbath, called Shabbat, a period of 25 hours that begins at sundown Friday and ends one hour after sunset on Saturday. Stores in Israel are generally open from Sunday through Friday afternoon. Some malls and stores also open for Saturday evening shopping. Public transportation in Israel does not run on Shabbat, from sundown on Friday to one hour after sunset on Saturday.