But for most Olim, there is still much to adapt to--including Hebrew labels, different measurements, new brands, a diverse variety of hechshers, and produce that is available seasonally.  

For Michael Hoffman, who made Aliyah with his wife in 2013, the language barrier proved to be the biggest challenge. In addition to calling his three daughters who live in Israel when he has a question, he also finds that other customers are happy to assist. “When people see me looking confused in the supermarket, they’ll ask if they can help. Cashiers also let me know what’s on sale,” Hoffman says.  “Here people go out their way to be helpful, and these exchanges have definitely improved my Hebrew.” 


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Miriam Naiman, a post-Aliyah advisor at Nefesh B’Nefesh, runs an Israeli supermarket tour for new Olim, which involves walking through each aisle to understand labels, gain an overview of Israeli products, and learn about the different teudot kashrut.  She also provides new Olim with a supermarket vocabulary sheet that includes transliterated terms for items. 


“It’s natural to pop into a store, get what you need and leave,” said Naiman. “We want to help Olim be able to do this in Israel.”


Miriam Botwinick, an Olah from Maryland, had an added incentive to master food shopping in Israel. As a dietician, she first needed to pass a test from the Ministry of Health before she could practice in Israel. While exploring Israel’s many shopping venues, she found that she loved the freshness of Israel’s produce, that samples were distributed widely, and that all food measurements were listed in increments of 100 grams, making it easy to compare products. 


“Just go with the flow, experiment, and don’t stay within your niche,” she advised.


Ready to set out on your own food shopping excursion?  Here’s everything you need to know about Israel’s diverse venues:


1.Supermarket


If you’re looking for an American food shopping experience, you’ll come closest with Israel’s supermarkets. Pick up your cart from the front of the store and make your way down each aisle, stocking up on goods. Though no supermarket offers an overwhelming variety of each item, Israeli supermarkets will have what you need--and keep you focused. 


Supermarkets vary in size--from the large Shufersal, Mega, Yesh, Victory and Rami Levy, to the smaller neighborhood varieties of Shufersal Express, AM/PM, and Super Yuda. Most offer delivery services for an additional fee. 


For Olim looking for their favorite items like Pepperidge Farm cookies, pumpkin pie filling, and Imagine chicken broth, there are a number of supermarkets that cater to Olim.  These include Super Moshava in Jerusalem and Meatland in Raanana.


When you check out, you’ll notice a few things that are uniquely Israeli: you may have to bag your own items and you’ll have the option of tashlumim, paying for your items over the course of a few months. 


2.Shuk


Get ready for a farmer’s market with a Middle Eastern twist. The shuk is an outdoor market filled with individual stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables; baked goods; fish, meat and cheeses; nuts, seeds, and spices; and wine and liquor. The shuks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv also have shops that sell clothing, housewares, textiles, and Judaica.


Shopping in the shuk is a sensory experience: prices are shouted into the crowds, food samples are distributed freely, the aroma of diverse food wafts through the air, and pedestrians push one another in their attempts to maneuver from one stand to the next. Filled to the brim with mass numbers of shoppers trying to beat the clock, the shuk on Friday is not for the faint of heart. But on every other day, the shuk offers lower prices than supermarkets and a colorful display of the large variety of food that Israel has to offer. 


If you plan to shop for the week, think about investing in a granny cart as well as large reusable bags.  Most stands take cash, though shops within the shuk often accept credit cards. Bargaining is acceptable, but may be more hassle than its worth.


3.Makolet


These minimarts are speckled throughout the country, and offer the necessities. Often selling their goods at higher prices than supermarkets, the makolet is best when you need to make a quick run for milk or paper towels.


Some kibbutzim, moshavim, and small villages may only have a makolet on the premises. These will offer a wider variety of goods, such as fruit and vegetables, but may not be sufficient for food shopping for the week.  


In small neighborhoods, it may be possible to open up an account at the makolet and pay your bill once a month.


4.Online


For those who don’t have the time -- or don’t want -- to push through a supermarket and pack their own shopping bags, there’s good news. Online shopping has come to Israel.  Shufersal, Mega and Rami Levy all enable customers to skip the lines. MyMakolet offers Jerusalem-based clientele a majority of Mehadrin products. Delivery fees are often about 30 NIS.


mySupermarket.co.il, the newest and most exciting addition to the online shopping experience, helps customers search for their favorite products, and recommends cheaper alternatives. When you’re ready to check out, mySupermarket will show you which store offers the total lowest price so that you can make your purchase there.


With a diversity of food shopping venues, Israel offers options for different types of shoppers.  Check out each option and see which one works best for you.




 

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To learn more about the Aliyah process or to start your application, contact 1-866-4-ALIYAH, email info@nbn.org.il or visit our website www.nbn.org.il.

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