So, you’re making aliyah, and you’ve decided to send a lift. You pick a 20ft container or a 40ft container, and then you try to figure out how to fill it up. If you’re already paying for a whole container, fill it to the brim, no point leaving empty space.
I took an informal poll (read I posted in a number of Facebook groups for Olim) to find out what people from North America wished they had brought more of on their lift, and what items they wish they hadn’t bothered with.
Things got heated, as they do on Facebook. It’s a very personal thing. Once the threads deteriorated into bashing people who bring a lifetime’s supply of white tuna and toilet paper, I simply took the information that was relevant to me, and started writing this post.
I’m not going to discuss furniture. I think that’s a very individual thing. We brought some furniture because if we had sold it in the US, as we would never have made enough money to purchase anything of quality in Israel. We brought some antique chairs that we plan to sell (if you’re in Israel, and interested in genuine antique Syrian chairs, with mother-of-pearl and ivory inlay, please contact me. We have 4 and will sell in pairs).
I’m only going to briefly mention large appliances:
Unless you know for sure that a US sized washer/dryer/fridge/oven will fit in your Israeli home, and you are certain that you will be able to pay the running costs for these appliances, I wouldn’t bother. From the research that I did, I found that the majority of large appliances available as 220V to ship from the US, are not energy efficient, meaning they use a lot of electricity. Electricity is expensive in Israel, keep that in mind.
In addition, a US washer may require to be hooked up to a hot water faucet – most laundry rooms in Israel do not have that option, plus, most people do not have constant hot water here. So if you use your washer with hot water, you won’t have enough hot water to shower, or, if you choose to leave your dud (boiler) on all the time, you’ll run up a massive electric bill.
Also, these non-energy efficient washers are also not frugal with water usage, whereas the European models available here are – I can wash a single shirt in my 8kg European style washer, and it will fill with just the right amount of water for that shirt.
Similarly, most Israelis do not use a dryer regularly. Clothes will dry outside pretty fast. Our landlord has a dryer that we can use, but we only use it for about 20 minutes to fluff up towels, or on really wet days. It’s really expensive to run.
As for refrigerators, space is again an issue – you can get really nice sized fridges here, and you get the warranty to go along with it (this applies to laundry machines too obviously). If you bring a fridge from the US with a built in ice maker and water dispenser, there may not be a way to hook it up in your Israeli kitchen. A lot of the newer fridges on the market here have a semi-automatic ice maker. You fill the trays with water, and when they freeze twist a lever to pour the ice into the ice bucket in the freezer – so you can have constant ice.
I don’t want to discuss ovens at all, because I miss my Frigidaire Professional oven terribly, and really dislike the built in teeny tiny oven that is in our apartment. Sniff.
On to tachlas. The little things. How to fill up that container with the stuff that really matters.
The most common things people wish they had brought more of:
Ziploc bags (available in Israel in Ikea in various sizes, but not everyone has easy access to Ikea)
Trash bags (Very hard to find here that don’t fall apart. Kirkland brand are now available at Osher Ad, but very expensive, so why not ship a few boxes to get you started?)
Plastic containers in all sizes – from food storage size up to clothing storage size (larger bins are easier to find, but are expensive. Purchase in the US and use them to ship clothing and toys instead of boxes. Smaller containers, for food, are crazy expensive here, and not so easy to find in the sizes for kids’ lunches. Had I know, I’d have shipped a case of Gladware containers in various sizes!)
Paper Towels – seriously, Israeli paper towels are not at all absorbant. (Kirkland brand paper towels are available in Osher Ad, again expensive, plus you may not have one near you, so ship as many packages as you can on your lift)
Trash cans (!!) – Kitchen garbage cans are not cheap in the US, in Israel they are exorbitant. Small trash cans, for the bedrooms/bathrooms etc. that you can find for $5 at Target or Walmart, you won’t find for less than $15 in Israel.
Kitchen items – EVERYTHING! Pots, pans, silverware, dishes, sink mats, drainers, baking trays (not too big, or they won’t fit in the oven), Tupperware, EVERYTHING!!!
8×8 Aluminum pans! You can get aluminum pans in Israel, and they’re not expensive, but you cannot get this size. They simply don’t exist here. Ship a case! I wish I had.
Paper products: Plates, bowls, silverware, cups, napkins. It is seriously hard to find good quality paper goods here, and until you find the one store in your area that stocks them, it could take years. I did manage to find our local store in time for Succot (the only time other than Pesach I use paper goods) but I wish I had sent a Costco sized package of plates etc.
Cosmetics – makeup, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soap, toothpaste, mouthwash, toothbrushes, razors, shaving gel, wax strips, cleansers, hair products, contact lens solution (and contact lenses)
Medication – anything you take regularly for pain or allergies
Small Appliances: I shipped my Cuisinart and my KitchenAid (and my Pesach Cuisinart). I purchased a heavy duty step-up step down transformer, and they work fine. From what I could find out, better quality small appliances that are not used for long periods of time, will work on the correct transformer for many years. Smaller, cheaper appliances that work harder when they are running, will blow quickly, and are probably not worth bringing. Not recommended: Vacuum Cleaner, steam mop, toaster oven, plata, shabbat urn, hair dryer, immersion blender, hand mixer, coffee maker, iron. If you want to take the chance, go ahead, but in most cases, you should just sell that stuff in the US, and replace each thing one at a time in Israel for a lot more money…
(Irons are so expensive here, that I ordered one from Amazon UK and had my aunt bring it from England for me! Although I believe Amazon UK ships to Israel).
I think I’m going to discuss food items that people send on their lift in a separate post.
Other things mentioned: Clothing and shoes, especially sneakers for kids. (If you’re lucky enough to have kids whose feet fit easily into shoes, go ahead and purchase the next few sizes up in shoes and sneakers. Sadly for me, my kids have super narrow feet and it’s really hard to find shoes in general, I can’t buy ahead). The younger your kids are, the easier it is to buy clothes in bigger sizes. As your kids are older, it’s harder because they want to do their own shopping… Someone suggested school supplies, such as crayons, markers, pencils – but not binders, folders or lined paper, as they sizes are wrong for here.
If your family has sensitive skin, and you use fragrance free detergent – bring as much as you can! It’s impossible to find fragrance free anything here!
If you plan on getting a dryer anyway, ship dryer sheets. They are available here, but they’re expensive.
Obviously, you cannot ship a lifetime worth of anything, but as many of the commentators said on Facebook, if you can make the early stage of life in Israel easier, why not? If it means you don’t have to schlep around trying to figure out where to buy plastic containers for your kids’ school lunch, go for it! Little by little, we all find our way around, and the longer you live here, the shorter the shopping list gets when you visit the U.S. But there is no harm in a little bit of home comforts.
Pack that container til it’s ready to burst!