Who is a Gem?
Gems are single, married, divorced and widowed women, ages 30 - 120, who come from all walks of Jewish life. The common denominator is a deep love for and interest in their Jewish roots and an excitement about expanding their knowledge and understanding of Judaism.
Some Gems have had very little exposure to their Jewish roots, while others have been living an Orthodox lifestyle for many years. Some Gems are married with children while other Gems are single. Some Gems are learning about the religious lifestyle that other members of their families have taken on, while others are mavericks within their families, the first to really delve into Jewish learning more deeply. Some come on their own. Some come with a friend, a mom, a daughter or a sister.
How does the application process work?
Space is limited, so submit your online application as soon as possible. Once your application is received, you'll be contacted by e-mail or phone to schedule an interview. The phone interview is a good time to discuss any questions you might have. Then you'll receive email notification of acceptance along with registration instructions.
How should I plan my travel?
You'll make your own travel arrangements. The program fee does not include airfare or transportation between Tel Aviv Airport and the hotel in Jerusalem. Please plan to arrive at the Tel Aviv Airport on Monday, the first day of your session, before 3:00pm. (The earlier you arrive, the more time you'll have to settle in and freshen up.) We recommend you take the Jerusalem Van Shuttle Service, "Nesher", from the airport to the hotel for about $15. We'll all meet in the hotel lobby at 6pm and walk together to a relaxing welcome dinner in a nearby restaurant. A full schedule will begin on Wednesday.
The program ends with a lavish Farewell Dinner on Wednesday evening. Schedule your departure flight for very late Wednesday night. An after mid-night departure, which is technically Thursday, is even better.
What is the cost of the program?
Gem 11 is $1995 per person, double occupancy, (not including airfare). Includes 9 hotel nights and most meals. Once you are accepted to the program, your $295 deposit, included in the $1995, will hold your place.
Are scholarships available?
Yes, some partial program scholarships are available. Scholarship approval is based on need and availability. Discuss your scholarship need in your interview.
What if I don't want to share a room with another Gem?
The program fee is per person based on a double room shared with another Gem participant. We encourage women coming on their own to share a room. It's a good way to develop a new friendship and it's also nice to have someone to talk with about what we've been learning and doing. However, if you still think you might want a room of your own, we'll let you know the additional cost and do our best to reserve a separate room for you, depending, of course, on availability.
Will there be expenses that aren't covered?
You'll likely have some free time expenses that will not be covered including some (though not many) meals, some snacks, shopping, taxis or buses taken during your free time. Airfare is not covered. Transportation between the Tel Aviv Airport and the hotel is not covered, however we recommend using the Jerusalem Van Shuttle Service, "Nesher", which only costs about $15 each way.
What if I need to cancel?
Cancellation is possible any time. Full refund will be given if canceling up to 45 days before start of the program. You will forfeit the deposit of $295 if you cancel within 45 days of start of the program. Any scholarships awarded for a particular session only apply to that session.
What if I want to stay with friends or family or in a hotel of my own choosing?
We highly recommend staying together with the group in order to facilitate departing on tours or other activities together as well as bonding with the group and making new friends. However, the choice is yours. You will be responsible for meeting the group at the appointed time and place for trip or activity departures and staying on top of any changes in itinerary. It would be unfair to the rest of the group to keep them waiting for a Gem to arrive from another location. The Admissions Coordinator can tell you what the reduction in program cost will be if you take care of your own accommodations. Discuss this with her during your interview.
How much free time will I have?
We try to schedule some free time to rest. For those wanting a lot of time for shopping, visiting friends or relatives or exploring on your own, we encourage extending your stay.
How far are the hotels from the classes?
Classes are held at a variety of locations. Many are in the Old City. Since cars aren't the norm for Old City transportation, it is customary to walk to class there. It's about a 15 -20 minute walk. Classes may also be in the hotel, or at off-site locations to which transportation will be provided.
How much walking is involved in the program?
You can easily spend 9 nights in Jerusalem and never see a health club. Old City residents don't need them -- they have the local topography as their own personal Stairmaster (and free too!). Between walking tours and just getting yourself around, you'll be doing a lot of walking during Gem. Keep in mind as you choose walking shoes that the stones under your feet have been worn smooth over thousands of years. A rubber sole is highly recommended.
Is the program wheelchair accessible?
Unfortunately, due to the numerous stairs throughout the Old City and many non-accessible tour locations, Gem is not recommended for people in wheelchairs.
Do I need to speak Hebrew?
Not at all. All Gem classes are given in English. You'll also find that most Israelis speak at least a little English -- certainly enough to help you get around.