Are You Making Aliyah? Here are 13 Products You Should Definitely Pack On Your Lift! (& 5 More to Consider!)

Aliyah Landing at Ben Gurion

Do you remember this post about products to stockpile before making Aliyah? I can’t believe it’s been seven years since I wrote that!

Now that my family is eighteen months into our “re”-aliyah, I’ve been asked by a KOAB reader who is making aliyah this summer to revisit and update that post.

Whoa, what a time warp! Some of these items are still totally relevant – and some are definitely off my list now.

Israel has changed a lot in the two decades since I first made aliyah in 1997. In fact, I was talking with a friend just the other day about how much “easier” it is now, thanks to inventions like Waze, Google Translate, and online banking.

The growing availability of American products (I call them “comfort consumables”) also makes aliyah a bit easier / more comfortable / more familiar.

Of course, the price point of these products is usually much higher than what you can grab them for at Costco or Amazon Subscribe & Save. (And when you can work some coupon or sale magic, forget about it!)

So getting back to that reader’s question: Would I still recommend stockpiling those 12 items I told you about seven years ago?

Some, yes. Some it would depend on space (and stage of life). And some, definitely not.

lift to Israel

Let’s take a look at the original list – and then I will update you with my additional recommendations from this go-around.

1. Dental care products {toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss} – YES
Sure, you can buy toothbrushes and toothpaste at any grocery store in Israel, but they cost three times what they do in the US. Plus, sending them from the US will take up hardly any room room in your lift. So, stockpile to your heart’s content!

By the way, I use the Phillips Head Sonicare 2 Series toothbrush, which works perfectly in Israel. It’s 110/220 volt, so you just need a plug adapter. And the brush heads take up no room in your lift, so definitely pack a healthy supply.

Shampoo, conditioner & body wash – NO
Do I miss paying $1 or less per bottle? Sure. But I’ve found some decent deals on brands here. And given how bulky these products are, I just don’t think it’s worth the space in your lift.

2. Feminine hygiene products – MAYBE
Tampons and pads are a fraction of the cost in the US, but they also take up a decent amount of space in your lift (especially pads). If you’re particularly brand-loyal, I’d recommend stocking up on six months’ to a year’s worth of product and then ease into buying them in Israel.

Diapers and wipes – NO
Diaper prices in Israel have really come down in the last 10 or 15 years, especially if you find that the store brands work for your baby. When you buy on sale, you can pay as little – or even less – than they cost in the States. Plus, diapers take up a TON of space in your life.

That said, I’d pack at least a week’s worth in your luggage, since you don’t want to have to run to the store the day you land.

3. BBQ sauce – MAYBE
Look, if you use a lot of BBQ sauce, it’s about $4 – $5 a bottle here for the American brands, like Heinz. That’s a lot more than in America, especially when you can pair a coupon with a sale and get it for 50¢ or less per bottle.

BUT, it also takes up a decent amount of room in your lift, so you really have to LOVE the sauce to justify it. Given how infrequently my family uses BBQ sauce (I really only use it for my Easy BBQ Pulled Beef), I just suck up the higher cost and buy it here.

4. Kids’ Clothing & Shoes – YES
In my experience, kids’ clothing costs three times as much in Israel (if not more). And frankly, the quality is often not as good. If you’re making aliyah this summer, I’d suggest that you start scouring the sales now and buy ahead to the next size as well.

This is doubly true for good shoes – whether sneakers or Shabbat shoes or sandals. You can absolutely buy high quality shoes here (there are American and European brands, as well as Israeli options), but you will easily pay $80 or more per pair, even for kids.
And PS, if your older kiddos integrate quickly, you’ll definitely be shopping for Blundstones! Israelis LOVE them!

5. Deodorant – YES
Again, the price difference is enormous between the U.S. and Israel and a few sticks take up very little space in your lift. Plus, I prefer using the more natural deodorant-only brands, like Tom’s, which is harder to find here.

6. Ibuprofen / Advil – YES
I actually like the Israeli OTC meds, but if you are particular to Advil, I’d recommend stocking up on it. For many years, you couldn’t buy it at all in Israel. Now you can find it at most pharmacies, but WHOA, is it expensive. The mega-bottles of Ibuprofen are super cheap at Costco. While you’re at it, you may want to grab some cheapo boxes of Band-Aids, Neosporin, Benadryl, and the like.

Crystal Light – NO
I originally included this on the list because my friend Abbi missed her Crystal Light and convinced me it’s stock-up worthy. It is cheap and light-weight, so I suppose if you drink it, you could surely load up before you move. But we just don’t drink it, so it’s not worth being on the list for me.

7. Contact solution – YES
If you wear contacts, the price of solution is outrageous in Israel. Stock up on bottles in the US, but be sure to investigate shelf life. FWIW, I’ve recently learned that the contacts themselves aren’t much more in Israel than in America.

8. Ziploc bags – YES
You can now buy Ziploc-brand bags at Osher Ad (a “Costco-style” grocery chain), but they are much more costly than in America (approximately four times). I will tell you that I’m much more mindful about how I use them, and don’t toss them quite as readily as I did in the States.

9. Cream of Tartar – YES
There are actually a number of spices I would recommend stocking up on, including cream of tartar, onion powder, chili powder, and powdered mustard. These are all very hard to find and quite costly in Israel. Plus, if you love any of the spice blends at Trader Joe’s, get those, too. Whenever I go to the US, I always come back with a few bottles of Everything But the Bagel.

10. Sunscreen – YES
Of course you can buy sunscreen to your heart’s content here, but it is very expensive. When I buy mine on sale (and with a coupon, usually) in America, I pay between $2 and $4 per bottle. Here in Israel, it’s at least $8 – $10 on sale! And during the summer, especially, you don’t want to go anywhere without putting on sunscreen so you’ll need a good amoount.

**NEW** 11. Heavy Duty Transformer – YES
I’m not sure this is actually a stockpile item – as you really just need to buy one (or two). But since we brought back almost all of our small appliances with us, we needed a very good transformer to use our 110 appliances in 220 Israel.

The first time I made aliyah, I purchased all of my small appliances in Israel, and since they are so costly, I had very few. Over our 9 years in America, I became a bit of a small appliance junkie! All those Amazon sales got to me! When we decided to come back, I figured I’d bring them and use them until they die. We’re talking bread maker, Keurig (oh, you should stockpile K-Cups if you are bringing your Keurig!), Cuisinart food processor, KitchenAid, immersion blender and more.

My husband fastidiously checked the electric consumption of each appliance and determined that THIS transformer was the best for our needs. Pfut, pfut, pfut, so far so good.

We also brought loads of adapters (you can get them once you get to Israel, too), for things like our electric toothbrushes, laptops, hair dryers, hair straighteners, and more.

**NEW** 12. Bedding – YES
If you are bringing your American beds on your lift, I strongly recommend bringing a good supply of American bedding: mattress covers, sheets, and blankets or comforters. The beds in Israel are different sizes – thinner, but a bit longer – so buying new bedding once you get here won’t work. While you’re at it, you may want to get a few more tablecloths (if you’re bringing your dining room table) and towels. I have found linens to be quite a bit more costly here.

**NEW** 13. MakeUp – YES
I don’t wear much makeup, so the few items I have tend to last a long time. That said, if and when I run out of mascara or eye liner, I definitely buy it in the US. The cost is much higher here. If you can’t go out without your “face on”, I strongly recommend that you buy a few of each must-have product before you come. Same advice goes for perfume, if you wear it.

And now for a few honorable mentions in the “maybe” category…

The following products aren’t “musts” by any stretch, but I’m including them here as something to think about… especially if you a few pockets of spare space as your lift is packed up.

**NEW** 14. Garbage Bags
I know it seems like a silly thing, but America sure does make some awesome garbage bags. They seem to hold more and break less often than the Israeli brands. There’s no weight limit on your lift, so if you’ve got the space, you could toss in a few boxes of kitchen bags. After 18 months, we are still working our way through our supply of Glad FlexForce bags from a killer Subscribe & Save deal. (By the way, Osher Ad has started carrying Kirkland garbage bags, so when you run out, you can buy them – at a premium – in Israel!)

**NEW** 15. 9×13 Foil Pans
Foil pans are ubiquitous in Israel, and they are cheap, but they are also soooo thin! I have to double or triple them up, so they don’t buckle under the weight of whatever I put in them. I’ll admit that I really miss the 9×13 pans from Costco. In fact, I brought back two stacks of them over the summer, to do my cooking and freezing for my son’s Bar Mitzvah. You can buy the Costco-brand pans at Osher Ad, but they’re three times the cost.

**NEW** 16. Paper Towels
We had just gotten a huge 50-roll Subscribe & Save order of my favorite paper towel the week before we decided we were making (re-)aliyah. Given the short turn-around (from decision to landing in Israel was 7 weeks!), most of that paper towel went into my lift.

I’m not sure I’d recommend that you stockpile paper towel, since it does take up so much room. That said: I love having it, and since we use it so sparingly – I use microfiber cloths for most cleaning jobs – it has lasted quite a while. Of course, Israel has paper towel, but the brands I’ve tried are insanely thin (and inexpensive!). I use it for pet-related clean-ups, but not much else.

If you are Bounty loyal, you can pick it up at Osher ad. And I did once see single rolls of Viva for sale at my local Rami Levy (a discount supermarket chain).

**NEW** 17. Disposables
Israel, of course, carries a plethora of disposables, like plates, cups and silverware. In fact, I think Israelis may like using disposables even more than frum Jews in America! But, there is a difference in quality and style between the stock in Israel vs. the US.

The silverware, for example, tends to be a bit flimsier unless you buy the really expensive stuff. (I brought back the Reflections silverware boxes from Costco for my son’s recent bar mitzvah.)

And I do miss the red Solo cups. The cups here are smaller and quite a bit less substantial. That said, it’s not important enough to me to stockpile it – especially since it takes up all that space in your lift.

**NEW** 18. Brownie Mix

Maybe you’ll disagree with me, but in my four decades, I have yet to make a brownie as tasty as Duncan Hines. And at Walmart, it costs all of 98¢ per box. Stack a coupon and you might even get it for 50¢. Yes, you can find brownie mix in Israel – especially at the grocery stores and mini-markets that cater to Americans. But it will cost you a fortune. (Our mini-market carries it for 17 NIS a box – about $4.50!)

Does all this stuff really matter?

Look, at the end of the day, it’s really a luxury to be able to to pack these items in your lift. When you first arrive, and everything feels different and unfamiliar, it will probably be comforting to be surrounded by the products you know, trust, and didn’t spend a fortune to buy.

But if you don’t have the money to buy ahead, or if there isn’t space on your lift (or if you’re not sending a lift at all), don’t worry: You can get everything you need in Israel (except for maybe the onion powder!).

In fact, you can often can find the exact same brands – if you’re willing to pay a premium. And of course, you can transition to the Israeli brand.

And if it bothers you to “overpay”, just remind yourself: You’re savings tens of thousands of dollars a year in tuition!

Calling all olim!

What advice do you have for this future oleh? Which American products do you really miss?

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. OMG thank you so much!

  2. Lauren Hazony says:

    This is great!

  3. Judy engelsman says:

    as to the meds section, I always bring back the bulk sizes of lactaid and extra strength migraine advil for a friend.. the former is super expensive here *if* you can find it and the second still needs a prescription. check CVS too for sales…

  4. Great list!
    I bought a nice sized (2.8 oz/80 gram) onion powder by Maya at my local grocery store. I think that it is a pretty recent development or special for Pesach because when I had looked for it previously (we made aliyah the same time you did) I wasn’t able to find it anywhere but Osher Ad in the small packets. I have a friend who brings back garlic powder because most of what you can find here is granulated garlic as opposed to what we are used to, but I’m pretty sure that when I bought the onion powder they had real garlic powder too.
    My additions/suggestions to your list
    The large rolls of aluminum foil that you can get at restaurant supply/warehouse stores (like GFS). The foil here is of much lower quality and disintegrates on food sometimes. The big rolls last forever-over a year for me so far.
    Party packs of nicer paper plates from Party City. All of the disposables in Israel are plastic and flimsy. Clear plastic party cups from Sam’s Club.
    Any special food items that will make your kids feel more at home/ease the transition. I brought a lot of gluten free snack sizes with us, because I didn’t know what was available here.
    My cases of Viva and Bounty paper towels are still sitting unopened….

  5. 4daughters says:

    I agree with some of the items such as ziplocs and pain relievers which after 10 years back in Israel I still buy in the USA. Other items such as the disposable pans, I rarely use and I’m used to the quality. As for some of the others points, I could really teach you how to shop here :).

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