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What should you bring on aliyah? What should you leave behind?


Should you bring Ziploc baggies?  What about furniture and appliances?  One question every single oleh is going to have to face before moving to Israel is – what should I bring with me?

So I thought I’d turn to the real experts – olim who are already here. I asked the following question on two major aliyah groups on Facebook:

What ONE item did you (or should you) have brought with you when you made aliyah? Bonus: what ONE item did you bring that turned out to be utterly useless? (ours was snowsuits!!!)

I’ve divided up the responses into categories to make it easier for you to read. But essentially, there's no one answer that works for everybody. Some people bring several lifts' worth of items, others come with just a backpack.

The advice here is also sometimes contradictory. I’ve met people who say, “Don’t bother bringing anything major, you can get everything here.” And then there are others who tell you to bring everything you possibly can. It really depends on who you are and regardless of what other people’s experiences have been, what you choose to bring is up to you.

That said, hopefully we can all learn something from what people chose to bring (or what they regret bringing...).  Spoiler alert – not one person mentioned ziploc baggies.  Or toilet paper, tuna, chocolate chips, or any one of a huge range of items that they would have been begging for 10, 20, or 30 years ago.  You can get zipper bags of various kinds (though they’re still not very good, in my opinion!), the tuna is excellent, and they even have Godiva chocolate for sale here now.


(Mmm… I saw these in a store the exact DAY my husband surprised me by showing up with one as a Rosh Hashanah present!)

Here are the major categories of people’s MUST-BRING items as well as their aliyah REGRETS.

The very biggest regret, hands-down, is a category I think of as…


  • · Heavy, very warm coats, especially hubby and me; we had wool coats [NOTE -- IN SOME PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, LIKE TZFAT AND JERUSALEM, IT DOES GET COLD ENOUGH TO NEED COATS!]
  • · Evening skirts, like, really long skirts ... never been worn
  • · For my dad it was ties.
  • · Heavy wool jumpers [sweaters] have not been needed. My work suits - so not needed.
  • · I brought my work clothes: two duffel bags of very nice skirt-and-jacket suits.
  • · There too many things which are absolutely useless here, for me, for example, high pumps shoes. Nobody here uses such shoes, even on holidays and in the theater.
  • · Shoes with heels. Don't wear them here
  • · I did not need to bring so many clothes.

And yes, as mentioned in the question above – we really DID bring snowsuits with us in our lift.  It was kind of an oversight, as was the fact that they didn’t fit any of our kids.  A few people helpfully pointed out that we could probably have sold them here, but in fact, we ended up shlepping them back to Canada and got rid of them last summer.  We should have charged a premium for “experienced” snowsuits that had travelled and seen the world. :-)

In terms of what you SHOULD bring with you, a few categories came up over and over 

in people’s list of either “best aliyah choices” or “wish I’d brought”.  Here are a few of the categories:


Clothing topped the list in the “wish I’d brought” department as well… in this case, here’s what some olim think you’ll need (or won’t need) when you move to Israel, or what they regret not bringing:

  • · should have brought more of jeans and crest toothpaste
  • · my ex left behind her sheital ---we called it 'chewy' cuz it had chewed up our savings.. .. she wore the sheital 1x in the usa... and in Israel covered w/ a michpachat (scarfs)
  • · A lifetime supply of my favorite bras and undies.
  • · I wish I had brought my down jacket
  • · Bring a long raincoat with a hood and high top waterproof boots. Forget about an umbrella.
  • · Bring quality warm winter clothing.
  • · Good winter coat is great advice. If you’re not driving here, invest in waterproof clothing of some sort bc those rains soak through every article of clothing possible.

I know – totally contradictory, right? Some people brought warm clothing and regretted it; others regretted not having enough warm clothing.

I’ve said before – it’s a big mistake to think it’s NEVER cold in Israel. But a good guideline is that when it’s cold here, it’s also usually wetter than you’re used to. Most places don’t get a ton of snow in the winter, but it only takes one freezing, miserable rain shower to make you wish you had better boots. Pack accordingly while you still can.


For a country with a huge resident bug population, Israelis can sometimes seem pretty poorly equipped to deal with ordinary household infestations. And local products often seem both overpriced and next to useless. Here are a few items that people suggested might have been handy to have to deal with the bugs here.

  • · Fly the hundreds.
  • · Anti - Mosquito roll on from Australia.
  • · Ant traps...the little round ones that you buy at dollar store

It’s not a lot. Around our house, we have two additions to this list that have been very handy:

  • · Ant poison (a liquid my husband bought in Toronto last year that has helped when some of the local remedies don’t)
  • · After Bite (the stinky ammonia stuff you dab on your bites to eliminate the itch) – I bought some on eBay and I love it, because for some reason I can’t find the liquid kind in Canada anymore. (The gel they sell in Canada works fine but I prefer the liquid.) Haven’t seen anything like it in pharmacies in Israel.


This was another big category, both for regrets and for “best pick” items that helped make people’s aliyah transition as easy as possible. Eating is unavoidably one of the first things you’ll have to do when you get to Israel. Your choices will depend a lot on where you’re going to be living. We came straight to the merkaz klitah, so I knew we’d have the basics in terms of burners to cook on and a fridge. That really helped a lot.

  • · Everything I brought was useful. Especially my electric frying pan which served as an oven and being without a proper kitchen for the first six months served all our cooking needs. Highly recommended! (Bought 220V one via New York before coming on aliya).
  • · Still using my 23 yr old microwave but different times ;) also all my dishes and cutlery.
  • · Left behind an electric meat slicer as I never thought we would be able afford to make roast beef!
  • · Quality pots and pans. $$$ here
  • · Wish we brought a BBQ.
  • · Cholula hot sauce.... (2 bottles, one for you and one for me )
  • · Denby ceramic handled cutlery- every time one dropped onto the floor it smashed to smithereens!!
  • · food processor...never used in the states...still in.the box here..
  • Things I should have brought :Food processor, cutlery, shoes
  • Brought and haven’t unpacked 1 1/2 years later- good china. My Corelle dishes are plenty fancy enough here!
  • BEST ITEM BROUGHT: An American sized (and speed) washing machine and oven. Not that there is anywhere to put them. [This last one surprised me, and I’ve since heard from a few people who brought US-sized washing machines specifically and have been really, REALLY happy they did.  It’s a good idea to talk to other people and make sure that a local repair person is available – and that they’ll fit into your Israeli-sized apartment!]

I would add two items here that I didn’t see anyone else mention:

  • · Corelle dishes: if you like these, they’re relatively expensive here. Yes, the stone floors in Israel can be murder even on these “unbreakable” glass plates and bowls. But they’re light and reasonably sturdy and I’ve never regretted slipping a few boxes of brand-new ones into our lift.
  • · Cast-iron skillet(s): I am in love with my cast-iron skillets, more so than ever before since I realized that I can actually make blintz leaves on the dairy one more easily than on any non-stick pan I’ve ever owned. Good ones are relatively expensive and hard to find here, so if you have pans that are seasoned and working well for you, I’d bring along 1-2 if at all possible. I know these are heavy, but if you’re bringing a lift, they generally charge by volume, not weight, so you can bring even more if you have them and love them.


I’d say this was the biggest category after clothing. And no wonder – when you need a drug, usually you need it URGENTLY, and often you’re in no shape to trek through the aisles of an unfamiliar drug store to find it. Here are some of what olim suggest you bring… or wish they themselves had brought. In general, I’d say bring a couple-months’ supply of over the counter medications you take regularly: sniffle pills, tummy pills, head pills. There are equivalents here, and there will be time enough to switch to local varieties later on when you’re feeling healthy.

  • · Bring Benadryl and other otc medications. The mark up on otcs here is usually over 90%.
  • · lots and lots of over the counter meds to start...(and antibiotics...the doctors here dont give easily...)
  • · Old spice long lasting deodorant, still order a couple whenever someone comes... also children's chewable pain relief.
  • · OTC vitamins-2 years worth.
  • · Decent denture adhesive
  • · Dettol
  • · Should have brought a lifetime supply of Valium [I think this one was tongue in cheek!]
  • · Favorite soap and deodorant! (Now you can get here, but more expensive.)
  • · Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream, since you can’t get them OTC here. I also say secret deodorant or any decent deodorant because the ones here are not good. Most other things you can find here.
  • · Must... over the count medicines...


Some of this advice seems contradictory, and of course, you should weigh the wisdom of bringing snow shovels with the idea that you may never see snow again, especially if you’re living in the areas up and down the coast where the temperature never even gets anywhere near freezing.

  • · Curtains and lace curtains. Not needed here.
  • · Brought but didn't need large long lasting heavy furniture from America.
  • · I brought so many hangers that I have enough here for another 5-person family. Also I wish I had given away most of my cook books before I came.
  • · DAB [digital audio] radio. No reception here !!
  • · I probably would have brought more tools from my garage. They are not cheaper in the USA but more standard size.
  • · If you will live anywhere that you might have snow, a snow shovel. The first year we were here we had a massive snowstorm, there was not a snow shovel to be had here in Jerusalem. People were digging out their cars with garden spades. We had just given away 4 shovels in New York
  • · i'm surprised that nobody has mentioned a Fax machine!! (that we should have brought!)
  • · If you will drive a car in Wintry conditions, bring an ice scraper. :) The one time you will need it, it will be worth its weight in gold.
  • · A good HEPA air cleaner and other supplies, if you have bad allergies!
  • · A quality electric bike! $$$ here
  • Brought my American beds and linens. So glad I did! [NOTE: Some people have had the opposite experience – bringing a US-sized bed and having a hard time a) fitting it in Israeli apartments, and b) finding bedding when the originals need replacing.]
  • NOT TO BRING:  Pocket knife. Used to walk around w one in the states at all times. Utterly useless here, unless I feel like answering a battery of questions whenever I leave the house.
  • NOT TO BRING: Decorative items like a sled. Haven’t used the skis yet.

My only addition in this department would be:

  • · BBQ lighters! I use these to light Shabbos candles. They sell lots and lots of kinds of these in Israel, and they’re pretty cheap. But they don’t work! Or at least, they don’t work when you point them down, as I do to light Shabbos candles. The ones we buy in Toronto are the only ones that seem to do the trick week after week, and you can refill them, so you shouldn’t need to buy them again (which is good, because I think it might be illegal to bring them on a plane… even in your checked baggage, due to their flammability).


This one’s pretty straightforward. Two people mentioned driver’s licenses, and ideally a driving record to prove how long you’ve been licensed and/or that your record is clean. That might not be possible depending on where you’re coming from, but it’s worth a try to get lower insurance rates if you can.  Most people would remember the driver’s license, but the abstract is important as well, especially with new rules about transferring your license.

  • · Money, driving license.
  • · Many people seem to forget their driving record. Get it and have your drivers license so you can prove 5 years of having it. Also the clean driving record will get you lower insurance rates. (You need to get your record from the DMV or whatever they call it where you are at. Mine showed no accidents for many years. Its called a drivers abstract.)


People had mixed feelings about books. Some regretted having brought so many – others were sad to have left them behind.

  • · “Canterbury Tales” that used to belong to my late grandmother. Had no idea I left it behind - I still cry when I think about it.
  • · no way we could have brought all our books .. that was a big bummer
  • · Books! Yes, they are replaceable here, but filling one extra box with books in South Africa would have cost me far less in transport than to buy here.
  • · My Brazilian Portuguese Sidur.. I got lost if I use any other...
  • · We should not have brought whole sets of Charles Dickens, Mark twain and other books which noone here reads.

We brought a LOT of books. I’d say our lift was 50% books, maybe more. And I have not regretted for a moment bringing them all with us. Many are Jewish, lots are not.

For the novels and other light reading kinds of books, I’ve gotten into a good rhythm of reading them, then bringing the ones I’m never going to read again to Nefesh b’Nefesh events where there’s usually a book swap table. That way, I’m getting rid of clutter as well as picking up my next favourite reads. We also buy online from a couple of places that ship books free worldwide so we have a steady supply between NbN events.


This is a general catch-all for items that didn’t fit into the other categories.

  • · I brought a child sized air mattress for when I go camping. I don’t have a child and I didn’t have enough room in the end to bring the
  • · came with just one suitcase and a cookbook
  • · All our pot covers which were somehow left behind
  • · should have brought all those plastic storage boxes.
  • · Baby gear. If we bought baby gear before having a baby we for sure would have brought furniture (crib, bassinet, car seat) and bigger toys, such as a baby swing or walker-type things. And packs of diapers too! Sooooo much cheaper in Canada
  • · I’m bringing my four dogs [click here for more on aliyah with pets]

I suppose the best advice you can glean from this very strange list is to think about how you’re going to be living in Israel and what you’re going to be doing on a day-to-day basis. Will you have storage space? What are you going to do in your spare time? Your life here in Israel will probably look a lot like your ordinary life looks now… so if there are things you couldn’t do without, think long and hard before tossing them to streamline your move.


And finally, there are the jokers, and not-so-much jokers as people who believe that there are things more valuable to bring along when you make aliyah than anything you can stuff into a box or a suitcase. And I agree.

  • · A sense of humor. And I'm serious about this. Most useful of all.
  • · I should have brought a lot more patience with me. Is there a pill for that?
  • · Brought with - my husband
  • · I brought manners with me. Should have brought more - seems like they’re pretty hard to come by here
  • · Bring with you a good attitude. Leave behind your usa or anglo or whatever attitude. This is the middle east. Amazing country.
  • · What I should have brought was a useful degree and more Hebrew.

This is great advice, all of it.  So that’s it – the olim have spoken.

But don’t worry – if you’re still undecided, here’s a ton more helpful advice from the experts on planning before aliyah:

If you’re already here in Israel, I’d love to hear what you brought that’s filled you with either happiness or regret! Leave a note in the Comments to share your experience with others.

(Photo credit: Moving Day image © Nicolas Huk via Flickr)

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. If you still have those Heavy wool jumpers [sweaters] donate to a gmach in Jerusalem, Kiryat Arba, Ofra etc.
    Remember that storage costs a lot of money. You need space etc. I'd bring less rather than more.
    Pack in dressers and other usable furniture.

    1. We don't, but that's a great idea. Packing in dressers is a great tip for anyone bringing a lift, since they charge by volume rather than weight! Thanks for stopping by!


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