Jessica Levine Kupferberg

Bring Ziplocs

A packing list for those heading to live in Israel: Bring your faith, your hopes and your dreams

Bring Ziplocs.

And a plethora of patience, a resevoir of resilience, a serious sense of humor. And of course, proper documentation.

Bring your old yearbooks, your favorite face cream, some good English books.

Bring sturdy backpacks (but not the kind with wheels on them) and sharpies and pens, but not other school supplies because they are very specific about the kind of pencil case your kid will need and the holes in your old binders and the new papers here are totally different and don’t line up.

You’ll see that sometimes, things from before just don’t line up.

Bring cans of white tuna, a few beloved Trader Joe’s treats, sneakers for when your current ones wear out.

And bring your sense of adventure.

Yes, soon you will be busy with the absorption offices, the bank, the utility companies, your driver’s license. You will be frustrated when your lift is late or your couch was left off your lift or they won’t release the car you imported because only Mahmood can do it, and Mahmood won’t be back until next Tuesday.

You will cry. You will miss your people back there.

But you’ll singe your lips on piping hot shwarma. You will sniff the rows of spices at a shuk, take free morsels of sweet halva and have to stop yourself from going back for more.  You will sting at the Dead Sea, hear the rush of ancient water falls, dance with a bar mitzvah boy winding his way through the maze of the Old City.  You will drink upside down coffee in a little cafe in the north, get a sunburn in Eilat. Wipe the sweat from your brow at a gleaming port in Tel Aviv and then brush snowflakes from your hair in Jerusalem as you wait for a bus.  You will burst when you see the hills errupt in the red kalaniot that herald spring. You will pick holy grapes and cherries and pack food for the poor.  You will slip on worn cobble stone streets and feel small next to new imposing buildings bearing glossy ads that beckon you to shop, to buy, to switch plans.

You will laugh when you use the wrong word and you will mamash cry again when your kids use the right ones in their new language.

You will climb mountains and traverse valleys.  And you will see the birds nesting in the old stones of the Kotel, and when you touch the Wall for the first time after your flight here you will whisper to G-d:

I did it. I’m here. I am home.

So bring your grandmother’s crystal bowl, your family pictures, a gas barbeque if you dare.

Bring some moxie — no, chutzpah — so you get ahead on line, or even get into the right line in the first place.

And bring your faith and your hopes and your dreams.

And don’t worry.

Remember that what you are searching for — you’ll find it here, somehow. The cost may be greater, but yes, it is worth it.

What you really, truly need, you will get here, at home.

Except for, maybe, the Ziplocs.

About the Author
Jessica Levine Kupferberg is a writer and former litigation attorney. She made aliyah from La Jolla, California with her family during Operation Protective Edge in July 2014 after driving across America. She blogs for the Times of Israel and her work has appeared in the Jerusalem Post,, The Jewish Journal, The Forward, Jweekly, and as part of Project 929 English, and as part of anthologies about aliyah and Covid-19.
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