Questions asked about Aliyah
What should we bring on our lift? By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Many people struggle with the question of “What do we bring on our lift”? On the face of it, it is a purely personal choice based upon your wants and needs but at a deeper level, there is more serious thinking involved in the question itself.
I PERSONALLY believe that the process of deciding what to bring on the lift for Aliyah is an extraordinary spiritual experience. It is a deeply reflective process that helps us pare down to the essentials what we need in Israel. This process, spiritual at its core, gives us the opportunity to eliminate those things we no longer need or want.
I recognize it feels like a daunting task and it is, but it is also exciting and freeing. I have experienced the craziness of it, as we faced our 3500 square foot house and the two businesses we operated out of our home, deciding what to leave behind, what would go, all of which had to be accomplished before the lift arrived. It was hectic beyond belief. I only wish someone had told me of the spiritual power embedded in the entire process. If I had known then, I would have approached it in a more spiritual, ceremonial, and liberating way.
The following are some lessons learned and thoughts I would like to share to help give you the tools to make your “packing” a spiritual experience. Also, there are some practical tips that can aide you in the process of figuring it all out.
HELPFUL TIP: If you are not good at letting go and getting real with your stuff and just feel like packing it all, I suggest hiring a home organizer who helps people with de-cluttering. I have used their expertise and benefited from it. On the other hand, you also have permission to just pack it all…this is truly your decision for your reasons.
TO BRING FURNITURE OR NOT: Personally, we chose to bring our furniture and varied possessions on a lift and we are very happy we did. It felt great to have our furniture and possessions with us as they held many memories and felt familiar during a time when nothing else did. It was a comfort to us during the settling in process. It can become very expensive if you have to buy all new furnishings versus bringing already paid for furniture.
Other friends however came with their 3 bags on the plane and not much else and settled in just fine….acquiring all they needed along the way. They were happy with their choice.
What do we bring?Your choice of what to bring on your lift is very personal. There is no right or wrong in the realm of what you choose to bring on your lift. Do not get overly EMOTIONALLY involved with this reality!!! Here are some personal suggestions as well as pertinent information.
1) Be SMART! Pack according to the size of the apartment or house you will be buying or renting. Do a detailed diagram with measurements or an approximation and plan your furniture placement. If you have not rented and are waiting until you get here, get information from AACI or a professional real estate agent. Israel IS REAL! This translates on every level to being realistic about everything.
2) Keep in mind there is little or no storage in Israeli apartments, so you will need to carefully consider the extra STUFF you bring. One of the greatest benefits of moving is the act of de-cluttering or eliminating that which we do not need or want. De-cluttering is getting rid of stuff i.e., outgrown or out of style clothing, obsolete papers, broken toys, disliked gifts, books collecting dust etc. It is a transformative process that can be linked to a spiritual act of clearing out that which does not express our true purpose. It is an extraordinary way to simplify our lives in order to connect to our spiritual roots which is the main reason for Aliyah.
3) The NBN site suggests selling or donating your extra items that are not being shipped. I suggest that if you have the room in your lift, bring your extras and sell or give them away in Israel. There is a great need in Israel to help young couples start their homes after marriage. Parashat Terumah explains that a donation is an elevation at the deepest level. We discarded 3/4 of our house before making Aliyah and yet we still had things to give away after we got settled. I felt the sweetest joy in sharing with our beloved brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. It definitely felt like I was bringing an offering to the Beit HaMikdash (The Holy Temple) and it uplifted me and the possessions I gave away. Sharing with Am Yisroel is THE BEST!
4) Bring what you love: favorite art objects, photo albums, books, special memorabilia…..even lamps you love. You can easily replace the plug on the end. Make your home in Israel even more special than anywhere else and make it beautiful to suit your personality. This will bring you joy! In a very real sense, you will be creating your home, your masterpiece in The Palace of The King. Eretz HaKodesh IS THE PLACE TO CREATE SIMPLICITY, ORDER AND HARMONY!
5) Stock up on women’s personal items such as bras and underwear and pajamas which are very, very expensive even on sale, if you want good ones. Inexpensive ones can be found even at the SHUK, (the outdoor market), so plan ahead and hit the sales before coming HOME. Be mindful that they do not have the variety of selection they do in America but what they do have is lovely.
6) Make-up and cosmetics are expensive to purchase in Israel and you typically have to buy them from a department store, Pharmacy or specialty shop where there are very persuasive Israeli sales women. If you haven’t learned the art of refusal skills and just saying NO, don’t even attempt to enter, as you are putting your credit card in jeopardy, let alone your marriage…just kidding! So again, stock up at the discount places and bring them on your lift.
7) Vitamins and supplements are also very expensive even when on sale, so stock up on supplements.
8) Coats and jackets are expensive too BUT at the end of the season, there are decent sales. Many stores have their own store card which entitles you to a gift or extra discount or coupons. This card is not a credit card but more like a membership card. It does cost a small fee but they give you the discount on your purchase. It saves money and allows additional discounts off the sale price. There are also many credit cards you can get from the bank or grocery store which link up with stores that also give you bonus coupons and discounts.
9) If you intend to bring your own beds and mattresses, be sure to bring extra sheets as Israeli beds and mattresses are made differently. Israel does not sell top sheets at all. They sell bottom sheets separately or with a Duvet and pillow cases. The linens in Israel shops are absolutely gorgeous and they do have great sales.
PARTY TIME: After all is said and done and the lift is packed and has departed, I suggest celebrating with friends and family. Celebrate with music and wine and great food or go out to eat but make it significant as you and your loved one are about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of your lives! Be mindful that you are coming to G-d’s beloved Holy Land. Your coming home brings Blessings to the entire Nation of Israel as it is infinitely more than just a change of location.
HELPFUL TIPS TO GIVE YOU AWARENESS OF LIFE IN ISRAEL
First of all, be fully aware that Israel is a modern country with many great features, options and benefits. It is a country with arms wide open to receive and help every Jew returning home.
BE AWARE: EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE AT ALL TIMES AND ISRAELIS DON’T TAKE OFFENSE. I CANNOT STRESS THIS POINT ENOUGH. We negotiate on everything including hotel rooms, gym membership, cab fare, etc. Israelis love negotiating and they have fun with it, and you can too. Don’t be intimated! Also, the shuk, the outdoor market sells almost everything except furniture, their prices are typically the cheapest and there bargaining rules.
BE AWARE: MANY communities have clothing Gemachs where you can get great bargains. They are a great resource. Some things are priced for 5, 10 or 20 NIS.
BE AWARE: There are great women’s and children’s clothing in Israel. Women have a choice of varied styles from the Bat Ayin cotton layers, to Israeli design to European style to American looking styles. Prices vary as much as the styles. Bargains are to be found and the sales are great. The most important point to be mindful of when it comes to your choice of clothing in Israel………IT’S NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE WEARING, it’s more about who you are and how you are living……defining yourself in a much different way.
BE AWARE: Men’s clothing stores have come a long way in the 10 years we have lived here. There are many more shops and better variety but the selection is not as great as in America. If you have favorite brands you may not have success with finding them here. They do sell Nautica, North Face, Polo and others but you pay a high price unless you wait for the sales. You can order clothing online and have it shipped to Israel. The clothing stores in Israel are small, so sometimes you have to go to quite a few to get what you want. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THE AREA OF CLOTHING IS SIZES. They carry small, medium and large and a few extra large and extra, extra, large but the sizes are not true to the label. An extra large is barely a large and an extra, extra large is really an extra large.
BE AWARE: THE mattresses in Israel are very good quality with many choices and varied price ranges. Additionally, there are stores that sell American brand mattresses. Israeli companies do not make box springs…..they have a different set up.
BE AWARE: There are health food stores in Israel with organic produce. In the small shops, the prices are high and in the bigger chain health food stores, the prices are lower. There are also farmers throughout Israel who have wonderful organic produce. Ask around and you will be guided to everything you need.
BE AWARE: Many Israelis, myself included order supplements, gluten free products and other health products from a web site…www.Iherb.com. You must keep the order under $80.00 and 4 pounds in order NOT TO PAY ANY VAT AT CUSTOMS. The shipping cost is only $4.00 and they are delivered in the mail in 10 days or less and they are a great and viable option.
BE AWARE: There are BIG grocery stores in Israel and they carry everything including clothing, rugs, pots and pans, linens, dishes, Judaica, flowers etc. But the BEST THING ABOUT GROCERY STORES IN ISRAEL ARE: The Fresh Baked Pastries and Challah, the cheeses of every taste and variety and the Produce, which is so tasty because it is full of Home Grown Holiness..it’s true!
BE AWARE: Israel has great home goods stores. They sell gorgeous dishes and china and beautiful table cloths. There is a misconception that the towels here are flimsy, but this is not true. There are a variety of choices, colors and weight with plenty of luxury towels to choose from. They have down comforters (at a premium) and plenty of other bedding options. Once again, the prices are higher but there are good sales.
To summarize: People seem to be somewhat scared about DECIDING what to bring on their lift but there is no reason to be. Don’t expend too much energy worrying about it. Follow the tips and make the choice that’s best for you and your family..then let go and enjoy the journey. Everything you need that you may not have brought, you WILL be Divinely guided to find…..BELIEVE IT. We built a house and I can tell you story after exquisite story of being Divinely guided to everything! Sometime, we would be out driving and we would stop for no apparent reason and then, we would spot a store and go in and there staring us in the face was the very thing we had been looking for. DIVINE PROVIDENCE….the wonders and kindness of G-d in action in HIS beloved promised land. Everything you need and more is here for you and it is beyond exciting! Make everything into an adventure and blend into the nation through these experiences.