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February 7- 9, 2000 Tel Aviv, Israel

Easy to Get to from Most Anywhere

Israel is closer and more accessible than you think. Almost any destination in Europe is no more than a four-five hour direct flight away; add a couple of hours and you're in Tel Aviv from Bangkok, or Bombay; even from New York travel time is usually no more than 10 hours. Many of the world's finest airlines fly to Israel on a regular basis; nearly all have interline agreements, insuring trouble-free connections at prices that are surprisingly inexpensive.

Time Difference

Most of the year Israel is two hours ahead of GMT and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S., although during the switch between regular time and daylight savings time, there may be some variations.

Money Matters

The unit of currency is the "New Israeli Shekel" (NIS) commonly known as the "Shekel"; It consist of 100 Agoroth.

Getting Around

Roads are excellent and well signposted. Coaches are spacious, modern, air-conditioned and comfortable, manned by experienced drivers and guides. Car rentals and driver/guide limousines are readily available and of superior quality.

Shops

In Israel's major cities shops are usually open from 9:00 am until 7:00pm, Sunday through Thursday, with an afternoon break a custom that is becoming less and less the norm. More and more shopping malls are springing up throughout the country, with shopping hours that are even more flexible. Nevertheless, on Fridays shops usually close between 2:00-3:30pm, and most places of business in Jewish areas do not open on Saturdays.

Phone Service

Some public telephones are coin operated. Most, however, take Israeli telephone cards, available in a number of denominations, and international telephone cards. Israeli cards are easily available from any post office and at various shops. International calls can be made from phone card telephones, or from special telephone company offices in Israel's major cities. Major telephone companies have toll-free Israeli phone numbers. Telephone books are available in English as well as in Hebrew. Most shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards. The most common are Visa, Eurocard/Mastercard, Diners Club and American Express.

Climatic Comfort

Anyone packing for a trip to Israel, should take the country's climate into consideration. Israeli winters begin around the middle of November and end in April at the very latest. They are also far milder than those of much of Europe and the U.S. Even in the North of the country, winter rainfall occurs fewer than 70 days a year - less, the farther south one travels. Nevertheless, when traveling to Israel in winter it would be advisable to take along rainwear and warm clothing. During the summer, temperatures will usually range between 22 - 30 C. Clothing tips: a practical head covering for touring under the sun and for visiting holy places. Modest clothing for the holy places, too; shorts and sleeveless dresses are not acceptable. For men, unless you're coming on business, it's unlikely you'll ever need to wear a tie.

Cosmopolitan Israel

Israel's major cities are as modern as any throughout the world - seats of commerce, industry, medicine, and higher education and offering the visitor all the comforts and conveniences of home, together with the fascination of a new and different world. Accommodations in Israel major cities run the gamut from ultra-modern luxury hotels to more modest facilities. Many of the country's hotels are of recent vintage, and each brings its own ambiance to complement its particular location, be it a kibbutz, seaside resort, mountain - top retreat, or bustling city hotel.