All posts by myaliyahstory

Critical care registered nurse from Dallas, Texas making Aliyah. Follow me on my journey, and fall in love with the land of Israel. Hopefully my story can inspire and encourage others to make return home as well. Feel free to send me any questions, or even your own story so I can share it here!

How to: Pack for Aliyah

The most important word when it comes to packing for Israel is DECLUTTER. This is true for any move anywhere. When we live in one place for many years, it’s natural to accumulate many things. But when it comes to moving to Israel, you don’t only have moving to a far away place working against you. The apartments and houses in Israel are a lot smaller than we are used to in America. In addition, many of the luxury items we enjoy here are also available in Israel, making it unnecessary to pack them from the US. With that said, decluttering is best performed in 3 stages:

Stage 1: Pre-Aliyah (about one year before Aliyah date)

Go through your house and take notice of things you would not bring with you to Israel. All of the junk you’re keeping in the garage or attic- if you haven’t used it in a year get rid of it. Adopt Marie Kondo’s method of decluttering: if it doesn’t spark joy when you see it, toss it out. Start with your clothes: get rid of anything that doesn’t fit you right now. Then be honest with yourself, are you really going to wear that? It can be hard to part with our possessions, but in order to organize a messy house you’re going to have to be ruthless in getting rid of clutter. After that, take a good hard look at your bookshelf. This may be the most painful part of the decluttering process. Take more expensive books like chumashim and siddurim with you to Israel (they may be harder to find with English translations). Then decide on just a few other books such as novels to take as well. Books take up a lot of space, and paper is heavy. Speaking of paper, the next step is to go though all of your paperwork. Save things you’ll need for Israel, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards, proof of residency, etc. If you have piles of mail, bills, old business documents that are obsolete, then shred them. The final part of this process is to go through everything else in the house. Toys the kids don’t play with anymore, tools in the garage you never use, and pool supplies when you don’t even have a pool anymore all need to go. Remember with anything you are discarding, there are organizations you can donate to for the less fortunate.

Stage 2: Packing for Aliyah (six months – day before Aliyah date)

Note: A lot of the information in this section I learned from a NBN seminar hosted by Rebekah Saltzman, a personal organizer. Her business is called Balagan Be Gone, and she is very knowledgeable about packing for Aliyah. She has a free workbook on her website, and offers a free consultation so be sure to check it out!

In this stage you’ll want to examine very carefully each item if you really need it, or even be able to use it in Israel. Divide your packing into 4 sections: carry-on luggage, checked luggage, the lift (if you’re taking one), and before the lift. One of the first things you’ll need to know is whether or not you know the dimensions of your new home? This includes the dimensions of the doorways, so you’ll be able to fit things through them. Know how many steps leads up to/ are in your home. If you don’t know the size of your new home, limit oversized furniture, leave large appliances, and do bring big sturdy storage bins to protect your belongings from moisture (i.e. mold). Israeli power runs on 220 volts with European outlets, so you may need to get a transformer in addition to an adapter/converter. Transfer family photos, videos, and important documents to a USB drive as much as possible to save space.

Designate an empty room as the staging area for your packing. Take inventory, and video record the condition of your belongings as proof should you need to file an insurance claim. Assign colors or numbers to the boxes according to family member and/or category (Dishes, bathroom supplies, etc.) If you know where you are moving to, the lift should be packed as much as 3 weeks prior. Otherwise, wait as long as possible, because it can take a while to get your items back. In Israel, you are entitled to 3 tax free shipments. This can either be used for 3 lifts, or say 1 lift and 2 cargo boxes from FedEx. Depending on which company you use, the lift may be priced according to weight or volume so pack carefully!

You’ll want anything really important/valuable with you at all times, so pack these in your carry-on. Such items include: Important documents, medications, SMALL electronic devices, jewelry, food (TSA compliant), change of clothes, chargers (with adapters), SIM cards, and cash. For your checked luggage, have some changes of season-appropriate clothing for Israel in case it takes a month or two for your lift to arrive. Also include toilet paper, box cutters, a first aid kit, basic kitchen utensils, and shabbat supplies (kiddush cup, shabbat/havdalah candles, siddur, talit).

Stage 3: Post Aliyah

Once you land at Ben Gurion Airport, you arrive to your new apartment, and you take a look around, you may find yourself needing to get rid of even more things! Coming from Texas, we have a saying: everything is bigger in Texas. This statement could not be any more true. Our houses are bigger, our cars, our beds, our couches, pretty much everything is indeed bigger in Texas. This is so not the case in Israel- just the opposite. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s going to be okay. You can buy new smaller furniture in Israel if you need to- Ikea, anyone?

Your Story: The Stolovitskys

What made you decide to make Aliyah?

We considered ourselves Jewish communal workers all our lives. We wanted to strengthen Jewish learning and identity through our work and it was especially gratifying. We were proud to have been a part of building up so many future Jewish leaders. Some of our students are rabbis or leaders in the Jewish community, some were strong Zionists and now live in Israel. Others have fashioned meaningful Jewish lives and others have focused on needed goodness of a shared humanity. At some point, however, we decided to do something strictly for ourselves and live In the State of Israel where the next phase of Jewish history is being written. We love it here and while it is harder to make ends meet, my wife teaches English privately and I teach English full time in a great little elementary school in Haifa. I also edit articles for university professors and teach Russian lawyers via Skype. For them, I use the great American constitutional cases to teach English.

Are you still working in the same field you were in America? Did you have to change careers?

I haven’t changed careers so much as gone back to my first love of teaching. It’s actually great to be protected by a union. We are considered a successful Aliyah story.

How did you decide which community to move to?

We have found a great small community. We have not yet bought a house because our inexpensive Dallas homes don’t really go that far here.

Do you have any plans in place for retirement?

When you have a job being paid for what you love to do, you don’t really think that much about retirement.

What tips do you have for someone who is considering Aliyah?

Just know that houses are more expensive here and salaries are not that great. Hi-tech does well. But idealists will always find ways to do what they want and find tremendous satisfaction just being part of the incredible story here.

Your Story: The Tannenbaums

When did you make Aliyah?

August 1, 2018

What made you decide to make Aliyah?


Really, before I got married

We had lived here for several years after we got married and planned on making Aliyah and coming back. Initially, we thought we would do so when we retired but for many reasons, we realized we didn’t want to wait that long. The idea that we have Israel to go to and we aren’t there was a dream that we didn’t want to push off any longer!
Different transitions and stages of life for our kids actually was a big part, being a Tanach teacher where Israel is THE focus of so much and working/learning in a ציוני school all contributed towards it.

How did you decide which community to move to?

We chose a place which would be a soft landing for our children.

Are you still working in the same field you were in America? Did you have to change careers? How did you enter the Israeli job market?

Pretty much- yes–Jewish education. Definitely had to figure out to make it work here. For my husband, the “shape and form” of Jewish educator is a very different one from what was. He was determined to come here with a job since this field can be quite full here and I am grateful to him for that. It means that he travels a lot which we don’t love but know that it part of the trade-off of adjusting career. This year gave me the opportunity to help settle us all in so I worked only part time. I applied to Seminaries from the U.S. and was fortunate to find a perfect start. Since being here and settling in, I have been fortunate to find more full-time work for the coming year. I had just started contacting NBN Employment to learn different options of how to branch out more when Hashem sent me a special opportunity! I am now involved in starting a new high school.

How is your Aliyah experience going so far?

BH, very grateful! It’s wonderful. Yes, there are some challenges but we are very blessed. I think the fact that we lived here for four years and have a decent Hebrew etc and REALLY want to be here are all contributing factors to our blessing but mostly, Hashem! Challenges can be in all forms – being new will always have its adjustments anywhere etc.

If you have children, how have they adjusted with the move? How did you decide which schools they should attend?

BH overall great. They definitely are on the ‘front lines’ with a lot of experiences and for the most part are doing really well. Working through challenges and planning ahead so some of them are limited or eliminated in a proactive way is critical. “Being there” for them and putting them in schools that match who each of them are etc are all important pieces.
Choosing schools has to do with both how a family is “hashkafically”-aligned and the type of learner the child is. Researching beforehand and if possible visiting are all important in making those decisions.

Do you have any plans in place for retirement?

Great question! Somewhat!

What tips do you have for someone who is considering Aliyah?


I think really wanting to be here is key! I think putting yourself into situations (that you want to be in) to meet people is important. Those situations are different for everyone. Some people like social gatherings etc. I personally like meeting people organically as well. Showing up to shul or continuing with hobbies (running learning for me) helped me meet people that have common interests for example
Focus on the positive –in general in life—is a good one. We have a ‘line’ in our house that if people are complaining about something in Israel, we call out ‘meraglim’ – that doesn’t mean not being supportive of real issues to work with but the things that can make someone kvetchy…

Your Story: Yonah Taurog

When did you make Aliyah?

I made Aliyah in October, 2018.

What made you decide to make Aliyah?

After I finished a year of yeshiva in Israel, I knew that the Jewish State is the place to be and I would eventually make Aliyah. What made me make Aliyah now is Basia, my now-wife was already living here and I wanted to be closer to her.

How did you decide which community to move to?

I didn’t know that many American communities, and I wanted to be close to Americans when I first moved. I knew a few people in Givat Shmuel, and Basia is there studying at Bar Ilan. 

How did you enter the Israeli job market?

I graduated from Yeshiva University with a degree in computer science. I’m taking this boot camp program to teach data science in order to get into the computer science field.

How is your Aliyah experience going so far?

So far so good, but I haven’t had to face a lot of the challenges other olim have had to face yet.

Do you have any tips for someone who is considering making Aliyah?

Everyone says this, but have low expectations. Everyday there is something else to complain about, “In America it would be like this. In America we would have that. People would act like this….” Don’t expect Israel to be like America. The biggest challenge in Israel is the healthcare system. It’s really hard to get appointments to see a doctor. The easiest way to get care is to check yourself into an urgent care clinic.

Your Story: Simcha Lopez

When did you make Aliyah?

I made Aliyah November 15, 2017.

How did you decide which community to move to?

When I first came here, I was in Yeshiva. After I looked for places close to the center because that’s the location I was most familiar with. After living there for a year and a half, I moved to Katamon. It’s a very nice part of Jerusalem, quiet and a close bus ride into town.

How did you enter the Israeli job market?

I am not working in the same thing I was in America mainly because usually the only jobs a person who hasn’t done the army yet are in restaurants and cleaning. People don’t want to hire people that will only be working for a few months. Finding a job in Israel mostly comes from friends and contacts. There are also apps and Facebook.

Do you have any plans for retirement?

I barely have plans for tomorrow, much less retirement haha.

What tips do you have for someone who is planning to make Aliyah?

You have to have your values straight. Israel is a country where everyone struggles financially, culturally, and with the language. To move to Israel you have to be strong and ready to grow as a person. When it comes to potential, Israel can bring out the best in people.

The Advantage of Facebook Groups

While a lot of people these days don’t use Facebook anymore, there is a virtual gold mine of resources for Aliyah through Facebook groups. Just a few I’ve found include:


Israel Communities Info for Anglo Olim

House Hunting in Israel

Dati Property Forum – Where To Live In Israel?

Affordable Housing in Israel – Social Discussion For Change


Jobs for multilinguals in Israel – משרות לדוברי שפות זרות בישראל

Nefesh B’Nefesh – Jobs in Israel

Jobs in Jerusalem לעבוד בירושלים

Jobs In Israel For Native English-Speakers


Zionist Jobs/Internships in Israel

Tel Aviv secret Jobs


חיילים בודדים צריכים | Lone Soldiers Needs

KeepOlim Lone Soldiers Unit (חיילים בודדים) 🇮🇱

Lone Soldier Housing

Chayal Boded – Lone Soldier – חייל בודד

Jerusalem Lone Soldiers המרכז לחיילים בודדים ירושלים

Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center Parents’ Group

Medial Professionals:

Anglo Medical Professionals in Israel

Nurses Making Aliyah

Saving Money in Israel:

Living Financially Smarter in Israel

Support an Oleh

Frugal Israel

New Olim Promotions

General Information on Israel:

Ask an Israeli Lawyer

Keep Olim in Israel Movement 🇮🇱 התנועה להשארתם של עולים בישראל

Nefesh B’Nefesh Community

Secret Israel

Secret Tel Aviv

Secret Jerusalem

Secret Jerusalem 2.0- Insiders Community Resource

Secret Jerusalem for women

Secret Haifa

Secret Tzfat

Secret Gush Etzion

How To: Pack For a Trip to Israel

Packing for Israel depends on your length of stay and what kind of activities you plan on doing when you get there. It is important to travel as light as possible, with as little luggage as possible. Below are some things that should be included in your packing list every time you come to Israel:

  • Passport- Cannot expire within 6 months of leaving the US, also it is a good idea to take a picture of your passport photo and save it in your email in case it ever gets lost/stolen.
  • Plane tickets
  • Travel Insurance- Including medical insurance. Verify that your current medical insurance includes coverage in Israel. If it doesn’t, or if you want to be extra safe I recommend buying Israeli travel insurance, such as through
  • SIM Card/ Phone Rental- To use a SIM card, your phone has to be internationally unlocked. If it isn’t, you have the option of renting an Israeli phone. You can use for either, and have it mailed to you before your trip.
  • Debit/Credit Card- Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most places in Israel.
  • Cash converted into the New Israel Shekel- There are some places in Israel you have to pay using cash. If you can find a local currency exchange, it may be cheaper than at the airport or even within Israel.
  • Coin purse- You will be collecting lots of Shekalim and Agorot. I like to donate it all to tzedaka before I return to the airport.
  • Prescription Medications- From EpiPens to asthma inhalers to insulin, make sure you have enough of what you need with you at ALL times.
  • Over the counter medications: Benadryl, Dramamine, Ibuprofen, etc. can make the difference between a good trip and a bad one. It’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.
  • Portable phone charger- You will be using a lot of battery using your phone for directions, taking pictures/videos, and communication. Some of the buses in Israel have charging stations which may or may not work. Best to exercise caution and make sure you have plenty of power.
  • Phone adapter- The wall outlets are European sockets, and you will need to buy an adapter for charging your phone and other small electric devices. For things that need more power (Hair dryers, straighteners) you WILL need a converter in addition to an adapter.
  • Tissues- Some bathrooms in Israel aren’t well stocked with toilet paper. There’s no telling which ones are which, so always have some pocket tissues on your person.
  • Backpack- If you can manage it, try coming with only a backpack and a small bag as your luggage. You don’t want to be schlepping a ton of luggage bags on a public bus, and it’s really inconvenient to travel with in general. A good hiking backpack for hiking/camping trips is worth its weight in gold.
  • Purse- Good for casual touring around the city. Make sure it has a long cross-shoulder strap for added security.
  • Water bottle- The water in Israel is safe to drink, but the mineral content is different. You may not like the taste, but it’s better than buying bottled water which can be expensive.
  • Changes of clothes*
  • Jacket
  • Sunscreen- The sun is very strong here, protect yourself!
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat- It get’s very hot here in the summer. A hat is a good way to insulate your head and keep your body heat under control.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Beach towel- I recommend using a Turkish beach towel to conserve space in your luggage.
  • Tennis/ hiking shoes
  • Dress shoes

*Many places in Israel are considered holy sites. Here modest dress is required.

For the ladies: Long sleeve shirt/dress past the elbows, no cleavage shown, not see through, and not tight. Skirt that reaches past the knees, again not too tight or see through.

For the men: Kippah, shirt with sleeves (can be T-shirt). Shorts are okay, but they should not be too short or tight.

Trip of a Lifetime

The first time I visited Israel, I was six years old. I don’t remember much of it, and the little I do remember is mostly from watching home videos. Growing up I went to a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school that heavily emphasized Zionism. We would have days where we learned about the history of Israel, Israeli culture, Israeli food, and Israeli current events. We would pray for the welfare of the State of Israel, the safety of IDF soldiers, and the return of then captured Gilad Shalit from Hamas. All of our Hebrew teachers were Israeli, and sometimes I would stay after class to learn more about this amazing country that eventually became almost mythical to me. A place that you hear about, and wish you could go visit, but somehow would always be out of reach.

Fast forward a few years, and I applied to go on a Birthright trip . For those of you who don’t know, Birthright Israel is an organization that sends young Jewish adults ages 18-32 on a 10-day trip to Israel FOR FREE. Seriously. Round-trip plane tickets, food, travel, attractions, and sleeping accommodations are all included. You are provided with a private tour bus, an amazing and knowledgeable tour guide, meet Israeli soldiers (who join you on the trip), and have a security guard/medic with you the entire time. They have a lot of different organizers, each with a lot of different types of trips. I chose Israel Free Spirit as my organizer and applied to go on the “modox” (modern orthodox) trip. Thankfully I was accepted, and started to prepare for what would be the most memorable trip of my life.

When I left Dallas for Israel, I thought I was already in love with Israel and the idea of making Aliyah. I thought I was prepared for this trip and while I was physically packed with everything I could possibly need, I was completely unprepared for the emotional onslaught that hit me when the plane landed at Ben Gurion Airport. I was finally here, a place that had become legendary in my mind as a child. A place that at one time I never imagined I would be able to return. And now, I was finally HOME. It’s amazing how before I went to Israel, I never noticed feeling as if something was missing in my life. Upon landing, I felt as if I was finally where I was supposed to be, and it was such a relief. I experienced all of this within the first five minutes of landing in Israel, and it is all thanks to Birthright Israel. For those who are eligible and haven’t gone yet, I cannot recommend it enough.

My trip was simply magical. The people on the trip were incredible, and we bonded so much so that by the end of the trip we felt like a family. Everyone in charge of planning and coordinating the trip did an amazing job. Our itinerary was jam-packed full of action, sight-seeing, fascinating historical lectures, lively discussions and debates, interaction with Israelis, opportunities for spiritual growth, and of course, delicious food. I created a video of my trip, which can be seen here.

For obvious reasons, this trip was a pivotal moment in my Aliyah story. It was my first time back in Israel, and I fell even more in love with the land and the people than I thought was possible. I learned a lot about myself, and had a better idea of what it’s like to live there. I am much more confident in my ability to make Aliyah. Now going to Israel is no longer an insurmountable feat. Six months after this trip, I returned to Israel to visit my brother (who had since made Aliyah himself) and to see the friends I made on Birthright. I am returning in two months to go to one of my best friend’s wedding. And I have every intention on coming back as often as possible before my Aliyah date.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about applying to and going on a Birthright trip, and let me know if you want me to make more in-depth posts about my trip!

Why Make Aliyah?

With Pesach just around the corner, I remember having an epiphany four years ago that has forever changed the course of my life. At the end of the seder, we always say “Next year in Jerusalem!” But on that night, I began to wonder why we often say this phrase without any real intent. Almost as if the chances of it happening are the same as opening the door and Eliyahu is standing there waiting to be invited inside. Is living in Israel really such a crazy idea? Before I would have answered this question with a resounding YES. It’s on the other side of the world. It’s in the Middle East. I could barely speak any Hebrew. It’s expensive to move. It’s expensive to live there. It’s a different culture. I didn’t have any family, or even any friends living there. Then of course there’s the propensity of the media to portray Israel as being in a constant state of war with terror attacks happening left and right. In short, it was a great unknown, one with a lot of risk and next to no support system in place. For these reasons I never even considered Aliyah until after my first year of college.

So what had made this night, in this year different from all other nights? A couple of months prior, my family had watched the JerusalemU documentary “Beneath the Helmet” ( After viewing it, my brother decided he wanted to join the IDF as a lone soldier or chayal boded. At first we thought he was just going through a phase, and he would decide to do something else after graduating high school. When we realized he was serious, we immediately started to panic about everything ranging from from his safety to where would he do his laundry. This prompted a lot of research online and reaching out to others who had also served in the IDF to hear about their experiences. With all of this going on, the natural progression then inevitably led to the realization that it’s not impossible nor is it crazy to move to Israel (well okay, you may have to be a little crazy).

Then my best friend from high school returned to Dallas after having spent a year in Israel studying in seminary. After catching up, she told me she had decided she wanted to make Aliyah. I couldn’t believe it, we were both coming to the same conclusion about where we wanted to live out our lives. She returned to Israel as soon as she was approved. I decided to wait until after I finished university, and as a result I was able to learn from her experience. So now I had someone living in Israel that I knew, a brother about to join the army, and familiarity with the Aliyah process. I decided it was also time for me to prepare to make Aliyah, to make the dream MY reality. The next step would be to visit Israel and see it for myself….