Apologies to William Shakespeare on the slight adaption of his famed quote. To bring, or not to bring (belongings on aliyah) is the next big question after deciding where to live and when to move.
This question repeats itself over and over on Yahoo and Facebook groups with everyone putting in their two-cents worth. As a home organizer and moving strategist, I have a few things to contribute to the topic. My advice isn’t a “one size fits all” formula but for some general guidelines as someone who assists clients all the time with these questions. The less you bring on aliyah the easier it will be to transition to Israeli living spaces which are often smaller than what you may be used to.
bookcases: bring. You can also have a handyman put up wall shelving.
beds: sell, with the possible exception of bunk beds. The American size mattresses take up a lot of floor space will overwhelm and clutter a room. We brought our beds and this was the biggest mistake we made. The first place we moved to was a semi-detached house with large rooms. We had no problem fitting in our American furniture. However, after that, we were living in standard size Israeli apartments which were much smaller and little by little sold off the beds replacing them with smaller and narrower Israeli ones.
dressers: sell. We sold five dressers. There was one tall, narrow one that may have worked out, but floor space is at a premium. The key is to utilize vertical space versus horizontal space and dressers take up a lot of floor space.
sentimental pieces: Make your own decision. We kept an antique buffet with hutch and antique dry sink. We also brought an heirloom dining room table.
couches: sell. You can find used couches. There are constantly people selling or giving away. Also not too expensive to buy new.
I advise to sell them. Aside from the difference in electric current, they may not fit into the Israeli space.
Small electrical appliances: sell. The motors will burn out eventually even when using a transformer. There is some debate about whether to bring your favorites but I personally didn’t bring any.
Computers. Bring. Most convert to 220v. It is a matter of getting a new plug or using a transformer.
Bring your books, but weed out anything you haven’t read in a while or isn’t a favorite. Pare down the collection in phases over a period of months. After each phase, remove more books until you are left with your favorites. Some communities host book swaps or have libraries where you can buy books for as little as 5 NIS.
Games and toys
Keep favorites only. If you say “That’s a great game to play on Shabbos”, my question is “Are you currently playing it on Shabbos?” If you aren’t, pass it on. Same advice for puzzles.
Stuffed animals: keep a favorite or two and part with the rest. They are dust magnets.
Keep only what you like and currently wear. Prior to moving is the time to weed out the wardrobe.
Children’s clothing/hand me downs. This category usually causes disagreement. I say keep only current sizes and possibly one size up. The logistics of storage are crucial here. There is no basement. No garage. No attic. No large walk-in closet. You have an aron (free standing closet) and hopefully a machsan (storage room). The machsan varies in size but may be no larger than 2×3 or 2×4 meters. Some may be larger, but space is limited. Children have their own preferences and siblings aren’t always the same season or build as each other. It would be a pity to pay shipping costs for items that you’ll never need. If you plan to bring hand-me-downs, perhaps save only Shabbos clothing or pajamas, not an entire wardrobe.
A final word
Prior to making aliyah is the best time to declutter. If something doesn’t “spark joy” or you’ve kept something because you “may need it someday”, now it the time to pass it on. I had previously written a blog post called “The Ultimate in Decluttering” with successive part 2 and part 3 where I share our aliyah process of paring down. I talk about what we got rid of originally and how we continued to let go of our belonging over the next six years.
For those readers who want advice or someone to guide them thought the decision-making process (which may be helpful for shalom bayis when disagreements arise over specific items) CONTACT ME.
Thanks for reading.
Karen, The Klutter Koach