The Aliyah Files #21 The Ultimate in Decluttering Part IV

Those making aliyah in the next future should be taking a long hard look at their belongings deciding what to bring.  As a HOME ORGANIZER AND DECLUTTERING EXPERT, I have a few things to say on the topic.

While some olim move into duplexes or houses, many olim are moving into apartments or smaller living spaces. This new space may be MUCH SMALLER than what you’re used to.  Unless a previous tenant or owner has left closets, you will have to buy them.  You may be lucky to have a machsan (storage room) or you may not.  There most likely will not be an attic, garage, basement, hall closet, coat closet, or space room.  The bottom line, STORAGE SPACE IS LIMITED.

The list below uses bullet marks for categories.  **note**THIS IS  NOT A ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL list but general guidelines.   My insight comes from the categories I encounter when working with clients who have found that even though they “got rid of things” prior to their move, now realize without the storage space they were accustomed to, find themselves in the situation of having “too much stuff”.

  • sentimental items-While sentimental items are irreplaceable, put a limit as to how many to take. Perhaps let each family member have one x-large box and select their favorites. In regards to photos, kids art or projects keep your favorites but you can’t keep everything.  You can photograph items and even upload them to create a keepsake photo book. BUT if a sentimental doesn’t “spark joy” because you have bad memories attached to it, then chuck it.
  • collections-pare them down. One doesn’t need 500 of X.  Also keep in mind it is very dusty here, especially when the windows are open.  The more things you have, the more you things have to dust. If familiy members have allergies, limit the stuffed animal menagerie which will most certainly be a magnet for dust.
  • clothing -I suggest keeping your current size only.  If you are someone whose weight fluctuates often, then by all means keep a few pieces in sizes up or down but not an entire wardrobe. For kids clothing keep what they currently wear.  If there is a sibling close in age that you are saving clothes for, then ruthlessly save only items that aren’t stained, are in good condition, and more classic pieces that can be mixed and matched. If you plan to save for future, not-yet-conceived children, save ONE BOX of each gender of only clean, unstained items. There are plenty of second-hand establishments, gemachim, and ordering on-line options. Additionally, there are what I call “generous relatives” who will come bearing gifts and more gifts…
  • books-favorites only.  Just because you once bought a book does not mean you need to own it for posterity.  Play this game:  Select a book. If you liked it enough, would you check it out of the library and re-read it? If yes, then keep it.
  • toys-favorites only.  Try to eliminate large, bulky items. Stuffed animals-drastically downsize and keep only favorites, as they are dust magnets, as already mentioned.
  • games-if they are currently being played and enjoyed, bring them. You may have a great “Shabbos game” for example, but if you aren’t using it, it will be clutter.
  • furniture-In the 9 years we have lived in Israel we brought (and have kept) our dining room table (family heirloom, an antique cabinet with a hutch, and an antique piece called a ‘dry sink’. What we brought and eventually replaced with smaller, more streamlined Israeli versions: beds.  Beds, couches, dressers, and other furniture from chutz l’aretz (outside of Israel) are bulky, and take up a lot of floor space plus often don’t provide additional storage.  I recommend buying new or second-hand smaller, more streamlined Israeli furniture that better fits the space.
  • electronics and appliances-with the exception of a computer or laptop (if you can convert the current) I would not bring anything else and buy here.  Some places give olim discounts when you buy a lot of merchandise.  Here is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to ditch that box of random cords that have been stored for the posterity and “just in case”!
  • warehouse club items.  I go against the common advice of “stocking up”.  If there is some medical item you must have then that falls into a different category, but it is totally unnecessary to buy disposable items in bulk. I have clients who still have plastic utensils many years after having moved. See The Aliyah Files #17
Karen, The Klutter Koach
May 21, 2019

The Aliyah Files #20: The month of Shevat important events: Tu B’Shevat and First Semester Report Cards

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, is known as the New Year of the trees. This day marks the season in when the earliest-blooming trees Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. This year Tu B’Shevat was celebrated on Monday, January 21, 2019. For an eco-friendly soul like myself, I was thrilled with all the planting and fruit-related activities that went on at my kids’ schools from juicing oranges to planting flowers. Another significant occurrence on this holiday besides celebrating trees is that Tu B’Shevat is mid-year report card time for students.

The first semester of school has come to an end. From now until June the rest of the year seems to fly by. Here’s what the timeline January to June looks likes:  January 1-Tu B’Shevat-Purim-Pesach-Lag B’Omer-Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day)-Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day)-Shavuot-End of School Year. Remove from your mental calendar other seasonal milestones such as President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. because they aren’t part of the culture here.

Getting back to Tu B’Shevat and report cards, I will add my Klutter Koach’s professional organizer spin to all this. Along with those (hopefully excellent marks/grades) there was a lot of PAPER. Whether in the form of worksheets, notebooks, or art projects, there is paper EVERYWHERE. Do you know how to manage the pileup? Now is a great time to sort through the stacks and keep only the best of the best and recycle the rest.  Obviously, a teacher has said to keep something then of course do so, but my guess is that 80% of the papers laying around can be tossed.

Whether or not Mr. Groundhog will see his shadow on February 2 and determine when spring arrives, start your spring cleaning NOW.  Start with the papers and then move on to another category. Why now? As they say, Baby It’s Cold Outside and we’re inside so take advantage of being indoors and the quiet period prior to Purim.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

January 23, 2019


Be Prepared: It’s Cold, Flu, and Allergy Season

Cold and flu season has arrived.  For some (like yours truly) allergy season is year-round and the allergens just change from mold to pollen to ragweed to dust. Whether cold, flu, or allergy similar complaints prevail with the stuffy nose-sneezing-achy-coughing scenario.

While I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, I do have a few pearls of wisdom to impart, both on the organizational side of this topic as well as the health side of it.

TISSUES. Do you have tissues in the house?  Do you have EXTRA tissues in the house?  This is one of those things you MUST have.  If you need some put it on your shopping list.  I am a big list person.  (A shout out to my mom, of blessed memory, for this habit).  I know some people just tear off toilet paper and use that in place of tissues, but this creates potential paper shortages in the bathroom which can be quite problematic. I will not elaborate further.

I am NOT suggesting going to work or school sick!  Obviously, one should stay home. However, people do have allergies and sneezing is a natural part of life, so be prepared for when the sneeze comes. Bring a box of tissues to work.  Send kids to school with their own tissue stash.  DO NOT depend on the teacher to provide them.  After 20 years in a classroom the big ACHOOO, the covered nose, and the urgently flapping hand indicating tissue SOS is all too familiar.


  • Check expiration dates.  If it is outdated, chuck it.  I know some people say “companies put dates on products to make you buy more” but do keep in mind that products don’t last forever and the chemical components change over time. Since things expire, I don’t suggest buying in bulk for anything in the medicine cabinet except for maybe band-aids, which don’t expire and one can never have enough of those.
  • Take stock. Do you have medicine to relieve cold and flu symptoms? Allergy medication?  Throat lozenges? Pain relief? Gastrointestinal relief? Children’s products? Add anything you need to your list.

Besides your tissues and medicinal relief I recommend having on hand:

  • Neti pot.  It looks like an Aladdin lamp.  You fill it with warm salty water.  Lean over the sink with your head tipped and pour water into one nostril.  Then blow to expel all the gunk into the sink.  I learned about this years ago when I took a yoga class.  Google a video to for a more visual explanation.
  • Eucalyptus Oil.  A few drops in the shower, bath, or in a diffuser works wonders and helps you breathe again.  You can put drop on your wrist or chest, too (use a carrier oil).  Vicks Vapor rub is also good to use and if you don’t have Vicks, Tiger Balm works well, too.
  • Honey.  Tea with honey and lemon is something Mom and Grandma always said to drink.  If you don’t like the tea, at least have the lemon and honey available.
  • Homemade chicken soup.  It’s the Jewish penicillin. If you are vegan or vegetarian, well, skip this one.  You paleo folks can still partake.  Plan ahead–cook now and freeze in serving-size containers for the proverbial rainy day.  When you’re under the weather who wants to cook?
  • Immune boosters: Vitamin C, zinc, Vitamin D, echinacea, etc.

My kids love a book called ‘The Grandma Cure’ by Pamela Mayer.  It’s about a little girl home from school with a cold.  Her grandmothers argue over which is best for their granddaughter-orange juice or tea with lemon and honey or rice pudding or chicken soup. Bottom line: they’re all good.  If any of these cold comfort foods make you feel better have them on hand.

Wishing all my readers a healthy winter!  For those in Israel I invite you to read my post helping you navigate the products you will find here in the pharmacy.  See the Aliyah Files #27 for OTC meds for fever, aches, and pains.


edited December 17, 2018
edited January 23, 2022

The Aliyah Files Files #19: Eating Healthy on a Budget

I was in the produce section at the grocery shaking my head in dismay at the prices  I lamented it was cheaper to buy potato chips than fruits and vegetables.  My friend, a fellow shopper, replied with a question “Would you rather spend the extra money on healthy food or on medical expenses?  Looking at it with that perspective I had to agree with her.  So is it possible to eat healthy on a budget? Yes, it is.  Here’s how.

Healthy food pexels

  • Eat with the seasons. Know what’s in season for where you live.  It will be less expensive than something that is ‘out of season’ or is imported from elsewhere.  Use the internet or cookbooks to find new and exciting recipes to prepare these foods. For example, when cucumbers were aplenty, I discovered a soup using cucumbers and avocados as its main ingredients and it’s now one of my favorite recipes. (Don’t judge my soup until you’ve tried it!)
  • Back to basics. Our ancestors ate just fine on staples like rice, potatoes, bean, and whole grains.  There is so much you can do with these ingredients.  How many meals can you serve from a bag of rice and a bag of lentils?  I haven’t counted the servings but I can guarantee cost will be less and the quantity will be more than the contents a box of Cheerios (which often feeds the floor more than the mouth and whose top ingredients include sugar).
  • Avoid processed foods.  Though convenient, they eat up (no pun intended) a lot of one’s budget because they are expensive.
  • Aim for plant-based meals.  A dietitian or environmentalist I am not, but from a budget standpoint, the fewer animal products you have in your shopping cart, the lower your bill at the checkout counter.
  • Shop with a list, don’t shop when you are hungry, and ideally pay with cash.

It has been suggested that meal planning saves money.  While I don’t disagree, I don’t find meal planning convenient. For me, intuitive eating is more important than sticking to a plan.  For example, if I planned for chicken and potatoes, but I’d rather have a green salad with pomegranate seeds, I honor what my body wants.  Maybe I’m craving some nutrients or just feel I need a lighter meal. The best way to plan for intuitive eating is to have staples in your pantry, fridge, and freezer.

What do my family’s meal choices look like in Real Life? Here’s a peek:


pureed rice with cinnamon and honey (or chopped nuts or dried fruit)

dry oatmeal and peanut butter (with a sprinkle of chocolate chips if I’m feeling generous)


French toast


smoothie-nondairy with bananas, fruit

green Smoothie-nondairy with greens and bananas

Lunch (for school mid-morning meal)

cheese sandwich

pita with chummus

peanut butter sandwich


Popcorn, stove-popped


“Pudding” made with bananas and avocados


rice crispie/ peanut butter / raisin / chocolate chip balls

apple slices

carrot sticks

vegetable platter



Shabbos leftovers (meat, chicken, fish, soup, cooked vegetable, grains)

Grain/ vegetable/ egg scramble




Regardless of the category I listed it under, I am more than happy to serve any item at any meal whether it is ‘traditional’ for that meal or not.

Another way to eat healthy on a budget is to say ‘no’.  I may want a watermelon but if it is so pricey compared to other food choices, I have to give up any sense of entitlement and forgo this purchase until the price is more budget-friendly.

Thanks for reading, happy shopping, and b’teavon (bon appetite).

-Karen, The Klutter Koach.  Home organizing solutions in R/BS

October 28, 2018

Have you missed any of The Aliyah Files?

#18 Welcome to Israel!

#17 Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality

#16 Over-the-Counter-Medication

#15 What to Buy as Soon as You Get Off the Plane

#14 Essential Hebrew Part II

#13 Essential Hebrew Part I

#12 Color and Home Decorating

#11 S’more, Meet Krembo

#10 Pumpkin-Spiced Latte

#9 The First Week of School

#8    The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies

#7  To Bring, or Not to Bring- That is the Question

#6 Making Pesach in Israel

#5  Doors, Light Switches,Toilets and Other Oddities of Your New Home

#4 Small Appliances

#3 Israeli Closets

#2 Cleaning Products

#1 Housekeeping 101 in Israel



The Aliyah Files #18: Welcome to Israel!

Welcome to all the new olim who arrived on this morning’s Nefesh B’Nefesh flight! 100 °F weather is probably making you wonder what you’re getting yourself into, but don’t dismay. The temperature does cool off… eventually.

My biggest aliyah tip of the day is to stay hydrated. Water, juice, water with petel, shlookim, artikim, juicy fruits, more water. If you don’t know all the terms I mentioned find some downtime and read the back issues of The Olim Files.

A few more tips: air conditioning, sun hats, visors, sunblock, more water, taxi splurge (this was the best 15 shekel I spent today-so worth it). Did I mention drinking water?

It has been my experience that neighbors are neighborly. When we first arrived our new neighbors brought over a bottle of Coke, plastic cups, and some nosh for the kids. My Hebrew was non-existent but we still managed to communicate.

Recently I was working with a client and unpacking boxes for four hours. The doorbell kept ringing with neighbors popping over to greet the new family in the block. Some brought welcome goodies others came empty-handed, but all with a smile and genuine interest in saying hello. Very reminiscent of times of yesteryear. Who really knows their neighbors these days? Around here, we do!

So regardless of the temps outdoors, you’ve made a great choice to spend your years until 120 in Israel. Welcome home, baruchim habaim ברוכים הבאים and drink your water.


July 25, 2018

Have you missed an issue of the Aliyah Files?



#17 Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality

#16 Over-the-Counter-Medication

#15 What to Buy as Soon as You Get Off the Plane

#14 Essential Hebrew Part II

#13 Essential Hebrew Part I

#12 Color and Home Decorating

#11 Snack Attack

#10 Autumn Symbols

#9 The First Week of School

#8    The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies

#7  To Bring, or Not to Bring- That is the Question

#6 Making Pesach in Israel

#5  Doors, Light Switches,Toilets and Other Oddities of Your New Home

#4 Small Appliances

#3 Israeli Closets

#2 Cleaning Products

#1 Housekeeping 101 in Israel

The Aliyah Files #17: Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality

Warning!  Warehouse club mentality is hazardous to your aliyah.  Let me explain what this means. It means don’t buy in bulk or x-large quantities ever again.

THERE IS VERY LITTLE STORAGE SPACE IN ISRAEL. I REPEAT: THERE IS VERY LITTLE STORAGE SPACE.  You may be used to basements, garages, attics, off-site storage, CLOSETS, large kitchens, pantries, etc.  Reality: not here.  In Israel, there is preciously little storage space.  I don’t care what a great deal you got on your box of 5000 Ziploc baggies. Where are you going to keep such a monstrosity? Whoever advised that stocking up on large quantities of something before making aliyah is steering you in the wrong direction.

If you listened to my advice and didn’t do a Costco run before you packed your lift, great!  However, once you’re here, you must alter your shopping habits. Aside from the fact there are no warehouse clubs, you must change your mentaliut. Read this all too common scenario:

“Look, Honey..20 bottles of Listerine because they were on sale!” (substitute any item in place of Listerine)

NO! NO! NO!  Buy one bottle and maybe one for spare. Zehu--that’s it.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many Olim.  A common theme I notice is the amount of overstock (especially with disposable items) the clients have.  The client (usually the one organizing the home) is often at a loss of where to store all these items.  Don’t let this happen to you!  If you already have a stockpile use it up.

Another way to reclaim your space: consider donating some of your overstock to a worthy cause.  When I re-home items for clients (any items, not specifically overstock) I have contacts who run Lone Soldier’s homes, girls’ homes, women’s shelters, and organizations that work with families in need. Believe me, there are populations who can highly benefit from re-homed or new items.

I cannot tell anyone what to do, only advise.  Take it or leave it.  No pun intended. Leave it.

Thanks for reading.


July 18, 2018

#21 The Ultimate in De-cluttering Part IV

#20 Tu B’Shevat and Midterm Report Cards

#19 Healthy Eating on a Budget

#18 Welcome to Israel!

#17 Ditch the Warehouse Club Mentality

#16 Over-the-Counter-Medication

#15 What to Buy as Soon as You Get Off the Plane

#14 Essential Hebrew Part II

#13 Essential Hebrew Part I

#12 Color and Home Decorating

#11 Snack Attack

#10 Autumn Symbols

#9 The First Week of School

#8    The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies

#7  To Bring, or Not to Bring- That is the Question

#6 Making Pesach in Israel

#5  Doors, Light Switches,Toilets and Other Oddities of Your New Home

#4 Small Appliances

#3 Israeli Closets

#2 Cleaning Products

#1 Housekeeping 101 in Israel



The Aliyah Files #16: Over-the-Counter-Medication

No matter where on the planet we find ourselves, there will be occasional headaches, stomachaches, and other minor discomforts.  If your favorite standbys for these ailments have been Tylenol, Pepto, or other OTC medications you are going to need to know the lingo of Israeli OTCs.  I can only speak for the American brands, so my apologies if you are coming from elsewhere and have other favorite products in your medicine cabinet.

  1.  Acamol=Tylenol
  2. Nurophen=Motrin or Advil
  3. Pink Bismuth=Pepto Bismol
  4. Stop-It=Immodium
  5. Fenestil=Benedryl
  6. Tee-Gel=Ambesol (teething gel)
  7. Gazim=Gas X, Simethicone
  8. Optalgin=no equivalent to my knowledge. Note: This was a wonderful pain relief medication I used after a c-section (used as directed under medical supervision).

Product information leaflets come in your array of languages: English, Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian.  Take your pick.  The same choices are available with automated phone menus.

**Be sure to read dosing directions or consult a competent health care practitioner regarding the appropriate drug and dosage before using any medication.

We should all be well and not need to be frequent fliers at the local pharmacy.  But in the event Montezuma’s Revenge strikes or you’re feeling feverish you should have your medicine cabinet stocked and ready.

Thanks for reading,


July 1, 2018

Have you missed an issue of the Aliyah Files?

#15 What to Buy as Soon as You Get Off the Plane

#14 Essential Hebrew Part II

#13 Essential Hebrew Part I

#12 Color and Home Decorating

#11 Snack Attack

#10 Autumn Symbols

#9 The First Week of School

#8    The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies

#7  To Bring, or Not to Bring- That is the Question

#6 Making Pesach in Israel

#5  Doors, Light Switches,Toilets and Other Oddities of Your New Home

#4 Small Appliances

#3 Israeli Closets

#2 Cleaning Products

#1 Housekeeping 101 in Israel




The Aliyah Files #15: 5 Items to buy the first week after of arriving in Israel

In previous blog posts I have advised what NOT to bring on aliyah. This issue of the Aliyah Files focuses on items I recommend purchasing once you arrive in Israel.

  1. Kum kum (coom coom)-an electric kettle to heat your water for a quick hot beverage.                                                                                                                 kum kum
  2. Squeegee-use this to wipe down your counters.  Procedure:  To clean your counters pour water onto the counter.  Then squeegee dirty water into the sink.  Maybe I should do a video demonstration…                                                    squeegie
  3. Sponja stick/rags/bucket-necessities for washing your floor.  Say goodbye mop.  Goodbye Swiffer.   Pour water and soap on the floor.  Swish around with the sponja stick which has a squeegee on the end.  Squeegee dirty water into the drain the floor or out the door.  Dry with a rag.  (Hmm…video demonstration part II… ?)                                                                                                                                                           sponga-stick
  4. Clothes drying rack-take advantage of solar power and also save electricity.  Hang your clothes outdoors to dry.                                                                                                   drying-rack
  5. Lice comb-Eeeww.  Yes, a lice comb.  Kids are NOT sent home for having lice.  Check frequently.  I highly recommend the Assy 2000.  Yes, a very dumb name but a great product to have in your possession.                                                                                                                                                                                                         DCF 1.0
  6.  Major appliances-Apartments/homes do not come with washers, dryers, refrigerators, ovens, or stoves.  Until these items have been left by a previous owner or tenant, you need to purchase your own.  appliances

Thanks for reading and happy shopping.

Welcome to all the new and soon-to-be new arrivals!  Please share this post if you found it helpful.  Follow my blog so you don’t miss any new posts.


June 17, 2018


The Aliyah Files #14: Essential Hebrew Part II

If you can understand the following sentence you are doing a great job on your Hebrew acquisition: The kablan was at the apartment doing shputzim so I grabbed some mishmishim for fruit snack, told the kids to get their bimbas, and headed the park for awhile.  If this sentence is a bit cryptic I advise going back to The Aliyah Files #13: Essential Hebrew Part I and reviewing the new words.  Don’t despair, you’ll get the hang of it.  Trust me. Ready for Part II?  Here we go:

  1. Rega (REH-ga)-wait. Example: Rega! I’m on the phone. Don’t interrupt me!”  “Rega” is generally said with the accompanying hand gesture.                                                                                                                                                                                  rega
  2. Savlanut (sav-la-NOOT)-patience. Example: You need lots of salvalnut when dealing with government agencies.  Ironically, the ones who tell you to have savlanut are the ones keeping you waiting in the first place.
  3. Die (DIE) – Enough/stop it! Think Passover “Dayenu”.  You will hear kids shouting this at each other.  It’s shocking at first until you realize kids aren’t wishing death on each other.
  4. Kishta (KISH-ta) -“Go away!” shouted to stray cats.  Example:  Kishta! Get out from under my car!  I have never heard the phrase used to tell people to go away.                                                                                                                                          Image result for image go away cat
  5. Mirpeset (meer-PEH-set)-a balcony.  Example:  Does the apartment come with a mirpeset?
  6. Kupa (coo PAH) Not “cuppa, like cuppa Joe).  A health fund.  There are four to choose from: Clalit, Leumit, Meuchedet, Maccabi.                                               Example: Which kupa do you belong to?                                  Related image
  7. Terem (TARE em) An urgent care center for medical emergencies. Not a hospital. Example: Little Moshe tripped and needed to go to Terem to get his chin glued.                                                                                                                Image result for terem hebrew
  8. Hanaya (ha-na-YA)-parking lot.  Example: The kids were riding their bimbas in the hanaya.  Note: You will get used to this.  Seeing infant seats in the front seats of cars also takes getting used to.
  9. Yad 2 (Yad SHTEIM)-1. second-hand Example: I bought a pair of Michael Kors gold sneakers Yad 2 for 10 shekel (true story).  2. A website where you can look for apartments, used cars, used furniture, etc.  A great resource to familiarize yourself with.                                                                                                                     Image result for yad 2
  10. Acamol/ Neurophen (ak-a- MOLE) / (NOOR-o-fen)-Acamol=Tylenol.  Nurofen=Motrin/Ibuprofen.  Example:  I have such a headache.  I need some Nurofen because the Acamol isn’t strong enough.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Image result for acamolImage result for nurofen

Thanks for reading and welcome to all the new and soon-to-be new arrivals!  Please share this post if you found it helpful.

Karen, The Klutter Koach









The Aliyah Files #13: Essential Hebrew Part I

Whether or not you go to ulpan (ool-pan) (intensive classes where you learn Hebrew), here are some essential words you will want to learn ASAP. The teacher in me knows that introducing too many vocabulary words at one time will be overwhelming so here are ten words for starters. Refer to this list below as you acclimate to your new language.

  1.  sponja (spun-ja)-The method of washing the floor with floor soap and a squeegie.  Mop? Swiffer?  Not here.  example: The floor is so sticky and dirty I must do sponja.    Related image
  2. shiputzim-Home renovation. example: The neighbors are doing shiputzim in their kitchen.
  3. kablan (ka-blan)-handyman.  example: Can you recommend a reasonably-priced kablan to do shiputzim?                                                                                    Image result for ‫שיפוצים‬‎
  4. Dud shemesh (dood shem-esh).  Water is heated by the sun with solar panels.  If it is cloudy or cold you can heat the water with electricity.  example: It’s cloudy today.  Please turn on the dud shemesh for me because I want to shower in 20 minutes and want hot water.                                                                             Image result for ‫דוד שמש‬‎
  5. Bimba.  A child’s riding toy.                                           Image result for ‫בימבה‬‎                                                                              The Cozy Coupe could also be categorized as a Bimba.
  6. mishmishim and go-goim.  Mishmishim are apricots and go-goim are the stones of the fruit.  Once the fruit is in season, kids play a game with the go-goim.                                           Image result for ‫גוגואים‬‎
  7. Rav Kav.  A bus pass. A credit-card sized piece of plastic you re-fill with money to ride the buses. (You can also pay cash). You need to get your photo taken which will be located in the white square.                               Image result for ‫רב קב‬‎
  8. Soragim (so-rah-gim)-window bars. example: Does the apartment come with soragim?                                                                             Image result for ‫סורגים‬‎
  9. trissim (tree-sim)-Window blinds. example:  It’s too sunny in the salon.  Close the trissim.                                                                              Image result for ‫תריסים‬‎
  10. reshet-net.  example: Those pesky pigeons made a hole in the reshet and I needed to call an exterminator.                                                                   Image result for ‫רשת‬‎


Thanks for reading and welcome to all the new and soon-to-be new arrivals!

Karen, The Klutter Koach

The Aliyah Files #12 Ideas for adding color to a colorless standard Israeli apartment

I live in an apartment and like most apartments in Israel, it is made of concrete.  The concrete floor is covered with neutral-colored square tiles.  The walls of the apartment are painted white.  This color scheme (or more accurately lack of color scheme) is very boring and without much character (IMHO).

If painting the walls isn’t an option, there are other ways to add color.  One way is to buy toss pillows for the seating area.  Another is to hang colorful window treatments.  A third way is to hang art, photos, or memorabilia on the walls.  Hanging things on walls may involve using a drill or purchasing special hooks. If you are used to nails on drywall, hanging things on cement will be a different experience.

In cold weather months having an area rug is a nice treat for your feet as well as a way to add color.  Tiled floor are quite cold so it’s nice to have something warm to put your tootsies one.  Do note, you will want to vacuum often or beat the rug because the dust and dirt accumulation happens quickly.

Other decorating ideas are fresh or artificial flowers, colorful blankets, or plants.

My newest decorating idea is taking advantage of this time of year being citrus season and displaying oranges or lemons in a bowl.  Not only do they add gorgeous color but an pleasant citrus aroma as well.

These ideas are relatively inexpensive except for the rug (depending on size or quality) and shouldn’t cause a clutter problem.

Pick your color palette and happy decorating.

Karen Furman, The Klutter Koach

November 26, 2017



The Aliyah Files #11: America’s got S’Mores. Israel’s got Krembos. Comparison of these 2 Marshmallow Treats

After publishing The Aliyah Files #10 Pumpkin-Spiced Latte, one of the kids came home with a Krembo. I had forgotten since last year that ’tis now the season for Krembos.  A Krembo is a chocolate-coated marshmallow fluff atop a biscuit cookie.  It’s too sweet for my liking, but nevertheless, it’s part of the Israeli culture and makes its appearance after Sukkot.


I thought it would be informative to continue on the topic of snacks and nosh foods found in Israel. Here is a list of commonly found snacks and beverages items gracing supermarket shelves.

Bamba. Bamba is a puffed peanut butter snack. After pureed baby food, I think it is one of those introductory solid foods everyone gives their kids. It is enjoyed by both children and adults.



Bisli. Bisli is a crunchy snack made of wheat that comes in different shapes and flavors. The standard one my family likes is a spiral shape that reminds me of rotini pasta.



Shlook. A shlook is an icepop that comes in a plastic wrapper. Generally, they are opened by using your teeth to tear a rip in the plastic. I am still very American prefer to use scissors. Each shlook is approximately 3 inches long.  Also called EE-gloo (think ‘igloo’).IMG_20171118_212718

Artic. (Pronounced AR-teek) An artic is a popsicle. It is larger and more flavorful than a shlook. NMTh7Ngl

Pesek Zeman,  Keef Kef, and Klik. Say goodbye to Hershey and MnM Mars products and get used to these chocolates. Pesek Zeman is an aerated bit of heaven (IMHO), Keef Kef is like a Kit Kat, and Klik are bite-sized chocolate coated balls or ‘pillows’ with something in the center.



Pretzels. Called Bagele. There are generally two brands available and found in more stores where nosh is sold.



Petel. Raspberry syrup. Add some to plain water or seltzer. My kids like the brand with the lion on it.7290000063300

Shoko. Chocolate milk. It comes in cartons, bottles, and plastic bags. It’s another one of those bags you need to rip open with your teeth. 382570501000100408274no-1

Spring juices. A wide variety of flavors that can be purchased in either cartons or bottles.



Milky. Chocolate pudding with whipped cream. According to my daughter, they come in chocolate pudding with white whipped cream or white pudding with chocolate on top. 1200px-Milky_(pudding).JPG

For those who know me, know I am more likely to serve peanut butter oatmeal balls, homemade date-nut bars, or stove-top popped popcorn. However, I do enjoy the occasional indulgence of the less than healthy nosh. Perhaps a future Olim Files post will be on the topic of healthy food like kohlrabi, kale, and quinoa.

Thanks for reading and happy snacking.


Karen , The Klutter Koach

November 19, 2017 (updated October 14, 2018)

The Aliyah Files #10: Pumpkin-Spiced Latte

What images do you associate with the word “autumn”? I think of leaves in stunning hues of red, orange, and yellow, scarecrows, pumpkins, and big plump turkeys. Or perhaps you envision tall leather boots, warm cozy sweaters, and hot pumpkin-spiced latte.  I’ll break it to you gently, but things are a bit different here in Israel.

In Israel, the symbols of autumn or “stav” are very different. If you have young children in gan (preschool), they will not be bringing home crafts of colored leaves or other fall-themed crafts you are used to. You will see snails, nachlieli birds, and rainy day themed projects.

Snail חילזון
Nachlieli bird נחליאלי


One thing I love about living in Israel is all the seasonal themes and holidays revolve around the Jewish year. In October the only holiday that was on my children’s radar was Sukkos. The talk of the town was all about lulavim, esrogim, and sukkas – no spooky-themed decorations graced any store or advertisement.

Another indication of fall beside the symbols mentioned above is the KREMBO.  A Krembo is a chocolate-coated marshmallow fluff atop a biscuit cookie.  It’s too sweet for my liking, but nevertheless, it’s part of the Israeli culture and makes its appearance after Sukkot.

The next holiday will be Chanukah. Get used to saying the Hebrew words and not the Yiddish ones you may be more familiar with: sevivon=dreidl, levivot=latke, chanukiah= menorah. If you don’t use Hebrew, people might look at you with a very confused look because Yiddish words are not commonplace lingo.

Things to note this time of year:

  • Snails come out after a rain, sometimes crawling out of their shells
  • Jerusalem stone is slippery when wet. Use railings.
  • Public places such as waiting rooms often have a bucket to contain wet umbrellas.
  • Your water will be cold unless you turn on the dood shemesh דוד שמש. During sunny and warm weather months the sun heats up the water. In the winter or cloudy days, you need to manually turn it on if you want hot water.  Many people will put a timer on the dood shemesh so the water is hot and ready for you when you want to shower.
  • It can be colder inside than outside. Think layers of clothing to keep warm.

If you liked this article helpful please share it with someone who may find this helpful.

Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

November 12, 2017 (updated October 9, 2018) (updated November 1, 2019)

The Aliyah Files #9: The First Week of School and What to Expect

Some schools start Rosh Chodesh Elul while others will start anytime up until September 1.

A few minor differences to get used to when you go to school in Israel compared to the USA:

  1. Teachers are called by their first names.  I was always called Mrs. Furman in the Old Country.  In Israel, I am known as HaMorah (teacher) Karen or simply HaMorah.  Rabbeim will generally be called HaRav + Last Name or HaRav.
  2.  There is a mid-morning food break usually around 10:00.  The standard fare is a sandwich on a roll, a baguette, pita, or sandwich bread. Many students will also bring fruit, a vegetable, or yogurt.
  3. If the school offers hot lunch it is basari/fleishig.  The main course is generally chicken or meatballs, a grain such as rice or ptitim/couscous, and a vegetable.  There is a fruit and/or vegetable option on the side such as apples, red peppers, oranges, or cucumbers.
  4. The school bell is music, not a bell or buzzer.  You will know what I mean when you hear it.
  5. There is generally one day a week where elementary schools get out earlier than the other days. Check with your school.
  6. Sunday is a school day, not a day off. This is a major difference.  Say goodbye to the concept of  ‘weekend’.  On Friday schools have an early dismissal or are closed.
  7. Icky alert: lice is not a reason to send a child home from school or to keep him/her from attending.  There is no law against sending a child to school with lice.  Invest in a good lice comb and comb your kids nightly.  Use shampoo with rosemary to help thwart off critters.  The best comb is Assy 2000.  IMHO it is the dumbest name ever but the best comb to invest in.
  8. Nobody uses brown lunch bags or bento boxes.  Juice boxes are not available everywhere except for the bug juice grape Tropit which is like a Capri Sun.  Milk comes in little bag and Israelis from a young age are proficient at tearing them open by making a little hole with their teeth. Hard-boiled eggs are not something sent for lunch. Be sure to send your student with a water bottle whether reusable or disposable.
  9. Students sit at tables for two.  Books are kept in a cubby,  magirot (plastic drawers), or on a bookcase.
  10. School buses aren’t yellow.
  11. School vacations revolve around the Jewish holidays.  This is a big benefit to living in Israel.

If you are still shopping for school supplies you may wish to refer to The Aliyah Files #8: The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies.




The Aliyah Files #8: The Illustrated Guide to School Supplies

It’s time to shop for school supplies.  This will be a brand new experience unlike any other back to school shopping outing you’ve had in the past.  1. the list will be in Hebrew.  2. you’ve now left the familiarity of Crayola products and paper folders.  Whether you’re a new Oleh or have been here many years, here’s a visual shopping list created to assist in your shopping.

Pencil Case  קלמר Pencil cases are zippered pouches of generally 2-3 pockets. פנ.jpg pencil case.jpgAccording to my son, the bigger the pencil case, the better it is because there is more space for the supplies. KalGav is a very popular Israeli brand for backpacks and pencil cases.

Glue דבק, דוק שתיק The yellow glue stick with the white cap is very popular. Most school require glue sticks more than liquid glue.





Pencil sharpener מחדד  Many schools prefer kids to have pencil sharpeners with covers to catch the pencil shavings.

pencil sharpener

Ruler סרגל This kind in the orange sheathe is common, inexpensive, and made of metal. However be aware the corners are very sharp.


Pastel/Panda (craypas/ oil crayons)  ציבעי פנדה, ציבעי פסתל.  Remind the kids to keep these in the box and not get it on their clothes.


Crayons צבעים Crayola is generally not the brand you will be buying here, but you can still find them however plan to pay more than other brands.


Notebook (machberet-singular, machberot-plural) מחברות  They come in standard brown, with colored covered, or with decorative colors.  There are differing amounts of page and line spacing sizes.  Used for all subjects.  There are types of machberet used for math and English.


Binder קלסר Binders are slightly different than the US version.  If you were to hole punch something, it would be for two holes instead of three.


An organizer with pockets that holds notebooks (machberot ) אוגדנית



A folder with 2 prongs  תקיה






Flimsy plastic covers for a machberet  עטיפות למחברת  Flimsy plastic covers for a book עטיפות לספרים Basically, the options for covering a book are wrapping paper, wrapping paper with clear plastic on top, or clear plastic.  No Book Sox.  Whomever wants to import them will make a mint. Think of wrapping your books using brown paper bags in the ‘olden days’.




Books for Limukei Kodesh/Torah subjects  סיפרי קודש


Books for general subjects such as math, English, science, etc. סיפרי חול


Assignment book יומן לתלמיד This one does not say ‘assignment book’  but there is generally a graphic picture and the calendar pages are on the inside.


Little pad of paper for notes פינקס קטן  Teacher may use this to write a note to parents or for parents to write a late note.  The assignment book may be used for this note writing communication.  It is at the discretion of the teacher.


Scissors מספרים


Calculator מחשבון


Markers תושים


Scotch tape/clear tape/”Cellotape” סלותיף   Tape dispensers are sold separately

ס (1).jpg

Highlighters מרקר  צבעים

מ (1).jpg

Pen עט They come in multi-packs or individually.


Pencil עפרון


Eraser מחק You will more commonly find white and not pink.


White out טיפקס


Dry erase marker תוש לוח


Sticker labels  מדבקות לספריםת Use these to label books and workbooks.


Page protectors נילוניות Get used to these plastic page protectors.  They come in packs.  Some are study and some are flimsy.  It depends on which ones you buy.


The grand total PER CHILD for books and supplies = approximately 700 shekels.

Please share this link on your social networks.  You might just make someone’s back to school shopping a little easier.  May everyone’s family members have a wonderful and successful school year.

Many thanks to DS10 who wrote all the Hebrew and uploaded the photos to this post.  Thanks for reading.

Karen, The Klutter Koach

August 19, 2017





The Aliyah Files #7: To Bring or Not to Bring, That is the Question

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.

The Ultimate in Decluttering

The Ultimate in Decluttering Part II

The Ultimate in Decluttering Part III -6 Years Later

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


The Aliyah Files #6: Preparing for Pesach in Israel-Time Management, Shopping, and Organizational Strategies

There are many differences between making Pesach in Israel compared to the rest of the world. One major difference is that there is only ONE SEDER instead of two. What was previously known as “the first night” is now the ONLY night which brings new meaning to “Why is THIS night different from all other nights?”


Time management for Pesach prep will also be a bit different. In Israel we don’t have a  Saturday/Sunday weekend. Some have Friday off work so the weekend becomes Friday/Saturday.  For those keeping Shabbos and used to having only Sunday to for errands, adjustments must be made. Take a good look at your schedule to find blocks of time during the other days of the week.  Many stores will be open longer hours to accommodate shoppers but there are no 24/7 stores. If you previously had an urge to shop Walmart at 3:00 AM, I hate to break the news to you, but there are no 24/7 stores and no Walmart.


Speaking of shopping, one beautiful thing about living in Israel is that EVERYONE is preparing for Pesach. The stores display cleaning products at the ends of the isles. Pesach is the only holiday getting the publicity.  The whole country is cleaning and shopping. The downside is the whole country is cleaning and shopping. Checkout lines are long. From entering the store to paying the cashier could be a three hour ordeal.  I suggest planning multiple shopping trips instead of a big power trip. A word of advice, since you may be in the store for many hours eat before leaving and carry a water bottle in case of thirst.

There are some important things to be aware of in regards to the food items you will be purchasing.

  • Product labeling. Those who don’t eat kitniyot you need to know that the size of the lettering informing you of kitniyot is so small, you may wonder if you need a vision check. If have a magnifying glass in your possession find it now. Items with kitniyot are on the same shelf with the non-kitniyot items. Sometimes the packaging looks identical and you must READ EVERY SINGLE LABEL in order to avoid mistakes. For kitniyot eaters, you’ve hit the jackpot. You can enjoy KLP popcorn and Doritos as well as restaurants serving KLP falafel.

Your favorite American brands may be available in some stores, but don’t count on it. There are plenty of Israeli brands equivalent to the mixes and pre-packaged products you may want. *disclaimer * you must read those labels carefully because of the kitniyot.

  • Heksherim. There are many heksherim which certify a product kosher for year-round use, but don’t certify as kosher for Pesach. However the products with those heksherim that don’t certify KLP will generally have an additional heksher that is KLP, so you may find multiple symbols on the label this time of year.
  • Product placement. Kosher for Pesach and non-kosher for Pesach will be next to each other on the shelf until Purim.  After Pesach, be sure to check that the store has a certification saying the chometz was sold for Pesach.  Look for a certificate displayed near the entryway to the store.
  • Shopping bags. Bring your own reusable bags with you to the store. Plastic bags are 10 agurot per bag. One big change for a new Oleh will  be bagging your own groceries. This is not a Pesach thing, but an all-year-round thing.
  • Getting your groceries home. In the USA most people have a car and here many do not. In Israel buses are a way of life. If you don’t have a car and you have tons of groceries order a taxi, a common practice here. Another option is to pay extra for mishloach (delivery) offered by some stores where your groceries are delivered to your home.  If you choose the mishloach option, some stores do not include the perishables as part of the delivery service, so check to see what the store’s policy is.


Once you have figured out when to shop and clean, the next big decision is where are you going to store your items. For the majority of dwellings, there will be a lack of storage space: no garage, no attic, no basement and often times no spare room. Many apartments have a machsan (storage room) so this could be an option.  Take a good look around your home and figure out which cabinets or areas of a closet can be designated to store chometz items.  There may be some re-arranging of the space, but it is only temporary until the holiday is over.  If you move things around, send yourself an email with a detailed list of where things are to prevent the post-holiday “Where’s the….?”

After you have decided on which cabinets will be used for KLP items, plan some menus with the items in your pantry and freezer. Take an inventory and use it up. Make a list and use a magnet to post it on the fridge.


If you have children at home, they will be home from school more days prior to the holiday than what you are used to. Instead of being home a few days before the Pesach, they are home for a week or more. In some communities there are pre-Pesach camps. If this is of interest, don’t wait until the last second to sign up because space is limited.


Take time to map out a strategy. Consider how you will manage your time, do your shopping, and organize your home. Stick to your plan, and make adjustments as needed.

Thank for reading.

Karen Furman, The Klutter Koach

updated March 4, 2018