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Aliyah Musings: Stuff and Things

One of the hardest things about Aliyah is what possessions to take with us to Israel. Practically it’s about what will actually fit into the container, more importantly,  an Israeli apartment. And then there is what cannot be left behind under any circumstances, not even if it is not practical to take! What to donate from our extensive horde – and sadly there is no limit to what can be donated to refugees or those in need, even when the local charities turn up their noses at our offerings. And what will join the endless heap of discarded items in landfill from our excessive throw away society?

It is quite overwhelming. There is just so much stuff! But, so much of our possessions is linked to memories. Happy family times. Meaningful moments.

I run through my mental checklist:
Every card received for the birth of every child – check.
Every card received for every birthday and anniversary – check.
Finger paintings and first written words frightfully misspelt by our children – check.
Each child’s first shoes bronzed, I kid you not – check. And the list goes on. Endlessly.

I am plagued by anxiety. Am I a bad mother if I throw some of this away? My children are after all now adults with homes of their own. Am I guilty of clinging to the past if I don’t?

And this is just the meaningful stuff. I have not mentioned the mountains of shoes, heaps of clothing – who can even wear all these items in one season, let alone a lifetime?

And pots and glasses and dishes. Oh, and my great grandmother’s tea-set that we never use in case we break it! And then held our breath as the packers bubble wrapped up each saucer and cup, wondering if it would make the journey to Israel intact! Yes, we are schlepping the sentimental stuff. But, in fairness we have made a solemn vow to actually enjoy using it! And if it breaks? Mazal tov!

I need to be more kind to myself. After all our possessions are part of our identity right?

And just as we had those favorite toys or blankies in childhood to help us transition, I am guessing some of my possessions will help me make this transition to Israel.   

Familiar items in my Israeli home will help me understand what parts of me, moulded in chutzla aretz, are necessary to build my new identity in Israel. We never completely shrug off the past. We just have to identify what is most meaningful and carry it with us into our future.

About the Author
Carolyn was born in South Africa and is currently living in Sydney Australia. She has taught in schools and university across two continents and four cities. Carolyn is a passionate Zionist in the process of making Aliyah.
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