April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Six years ago our family of six people stuffed as much as humanly possible into a container the size of a small humpback whale. We literally stuffed that puppy silly and I still remember breathing a sigh of relief that the door actually slammed shut.

Because I needed all my stuff.

My kids needed all their stuff.

Hubbie needed all his stuff.

The pending question was how would we make it through the first summer months in Israel without all our stuff.

But we did.

Make it, that is.

In fact, aliyah revelation #1:

We didn’t need most of it.

Gasp.

Or miss much of it.

Double gasp.

Months later the truck with our container the size of a baby humpback whale, that had everything we possibly needed, pulled up to the house. Before long our previously Zen and uncluttered house became a category 5 hurricane of boxes and more boxes and just everywhere boxes. And not much Zen.

Now, I’m not implying that we didn’t need some of this stuff. Truly, I’m not that Yogi (but man, I wish sometimes I was).

Photo albums, sefarim, books, kitchen wares, towels and bedding, hockey equipment; check, check, check, check, check.

But I can’t even tell you how much stuff we just didn’t need.

And it was actually more overwhelming than welcoming.

I read posts online of friends and strangers making aliyah, and I recognize the panic of worrying about what stuff to bring and the anxiety of leaving behind stuff that you’ll regret. I get the struggle. People offer suggestions that range from McCormick seasoning to oatmeal and every paper good in between.

Newsflash: You can get oatmeal and paper goods in Israel.

Second news flash: Seasoning in Israel is a-flowing, from freshly ground and aromatic spices to the very popular Pereg brand.

Now, I’m not debating that many items are cheaper in the States, or that the quality of some of our 1-ply toilet paper here isn’t all you’ve ever dreamed it to be. In fact, American-Israelis still get that star-crossed-lover look in their eyes when they talk dreamingly of their past shopping rendezvous in Target. But what I am suggesting is that what you think you need, what you think you can’t cook or live without: you can and you do. And you don’t even bat an eyelash. Soon your boys start asking for the Israeli bathing suits that they wear their underwear with, or the local backpacks for school that are at every single mall here. Recently, my 10-year-old asked me to buy the Israeli wafer-thin snack bags and specially not to buy the “fancy” ones, referring to Ziploc, because that’s not what his friends in his class use.

It’s all part of the process and all part of the aliyah experience.

So if you’re coming to Israel on a trip or planning your aliyah, take a deep breath and remember:

Don’t over-stuff.

And when all else fails,

there’s always Amazon.

By Esti Rosen SnukalBy Esti Rosen Snukal


Esti Rosen Snukal made aliyah six years ago this summer with her husband and four sons. She is a volunteer at The Lone Soldier Center and a contributor to The Jewish Link, documenting her family’s aliyah journey. Esti can be reached at [email protected].

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