Heading off to seminary in Israel for the year? You’ve never packed for this long of a time and it can be overwhelming. What do the girls actually wear? This guide will help!
This is a list written by seminary students of a Bais Yaakov-type of seminary in Israel. As moms we’re familiar with the “We have nothing to wear” refrain and we thought the girls were very generous when listing what is a “must have.” After explaining that laundry is only done every third week, however, the list starts to make a bit more sense. -The BCP Team
Though this list can be used as a guide, it’s always best to speak to a former student of the seminary your daughter will be attending to verify what the girls in that specific seminary actually do wear. This list is as extensive as it gets and is very generous in listing the quantity of clothing. You do not need to buy everything; you can use many things that you already have in your closet (sneakers, shoes, basics, t-shirts…) and this lists very generously the amounts of clothing. If you plan on doing laundry once a week (vs. every second or third week), you can cut the list significantly. Most girls have trouble getting to laundry machines often or are simply lazy to do it weekly.
Also note: Storage space is usually limited!
By starting now, you can shop slowly, starting to look out for the products you want and get things on sale.
In the majority of Israel seminaries, the uniform is a dark skirt paired with a blue shirt (most Bais Yaakov type seminaries). Always confirm with former students.
Many seminaries request navy skirts, but the girls all seem to wear black anyway.
If you went / are currently in a high school that wears navy or black pleated skirts (long and short) those skirts can be used. Most girls wear long pleated skirts. You can pack a shorter one for trips (use an older one; it’s not necessary to buy one special for this reason) Some suggest getting one skirt a size bigger.
- 4-5 uniform skirts
The majority of the time the girls wear sweaters or t-shirts over their button-down shirts. They wear t-shirts more often than sweaters because it’s quite hot many of the months and they don’t like to wear a plain shirt. This is also the reason why most girls wear collars, dickies, or unishells under the t-shirts or sweaters. If your daughter does not want to wear something over her button-down, she would need more shirts and less sweaters/t-shirts. (Editor’s Note: as moms, this sounds like a lot, but the girls wrote this much so we’re going to leave it in)
- 2 full shirts with collars – These recommended shirts from Lands End go on sale often; look out for coupon codes.
- 3-4 uni shells or sleeveless shirts
- 4 dickies or cut down any shirt (for hot days)
- White blouse or dickie for rosh chodesh
- 10 sweaters / sweatshirts (no hood) + 8 t-shirts
THESE ARE SOME OF THE ONES THAT WE LOVE:
- This basic knit sweater is a favorite. Wash it inside out so it doesn’t pimple quickly.
- This ribbed pullover is really one size fits all.
- One or two bigger pullover sweaters are good for winter
- This crewneck t-shirt is perfect for over the uniform dickie.
- This t-shirt from Rhythm is thicker and better quality than the Gap with a nice fit. The ribbed and solid are both good.
- Polo shirt or any shirt with collar for trip days. (size up for the one linked)
- Shirt for tearing kriah (for first day)
- 2-3 nicer outfits for Yom Tov or Simchas. The rest of the Shabbos clothing should be skirts and tops that can be easily washed (not dry clean). They like comfortable outfits/sweaters with simple black Shabbos skirts. Seminary girls go away every Shabbos so they should be easy to pack. There can be some winter and some summer outfits, but best if some is transitional clothing that works for all year round and in-between weather.
- 4-5 winter outfits
- 4-5 summer outfits
- 4/5 winter sweaters for Motzei Shabbos, not tight-fitting
- 4/5 summer tops + more if you stay for Pesach
- Keep Chol Hamoed in mind. You really don’t need much clothing aside from uniforms and Shabbos clothing.
(Editor’s note: Again, there’s a lot on the list. Laundry isn’t done often and things keep getting lost.)
- 6-7 PJs (keep in mind the temperature shifts… it gets very hot and very cold)
- Leggings and exercise t-shirts
- Tank tops (if you like to wear a layer under clothing)
- 2-3 slinky skirts (Monte Carlo skirts are a favorite)
- 25 pairs of underwear
- 6-8 bras
- 8 black tights (if you don’t wear socks, get more tights and less socks)
- 20-25 pairs black socks (they wear these under long skirts)
- 5 pairs short socks (for night)
- 10-12 nude stockings
- 2 slips
- Rain jacket/windbreaker
- Jacket with hood
- Winter coat with hood (All outerwear should be waterproof as it rains a lot)
- Bathing suit /coverup
- Baseball Cap (some tour guides don’t let you join without a cap)
- Bag/Purse – most girls use a small crossbody bag
- Fuzzy bathrobe/towel bathrobe are really good to have to throw on after shower
Shoes get ruined fast because you do a lot of walking
- Loafers or sneaker shoes for every day
- Shabbos shoes
- Lace up sneakers for trips
- Flip flops/waterproof slides or Natives for shower
- Rain bootes (do not need full boots)
- Cozy slippers to walk around dorm
ODDS AND ENDS:
- Overnight bag -a small wheelie/carry-on works
- School supplies (bring with some paper/notebook and pen so you don’t have to run out the first day). Otherwise, buy in Israel. It’s best NOT to bring along American looseleafs because you’ll have to use American paper and it’s not available.
- Seforim (usually you buy it from the school/former students)
- Water Canteen for trips (buy in Israel)
- Hanging shoe hanger (find out what the rooms look like and if it’s better to hang the shoes)
- Lenses/Lens solution
- Makeup/Makeup remover
- Any specific face creams/sunscreen you use
- Linen, Blanket, Pillow and Towels
- Most people buy pillow and blanket from former students or directly from Blanket Express. You can also buy linen and towels but most bring their own.
- RH and Yom Kippur Machzor
- Gifts: If you plan on going a lot to family (an aunt, brother…) , sometimes it’s easier taking care of these in advance if they won’t take up a lot of space.
- Journal if you want to keep one during the year
- Laundry Bags (2 so you can wash the bag and use the other)
- Photos/Collages/Family Photos
- A throw blanket if you don’t like people sitting on your bed
- Brush/Hair Accessories
- Blow dryer/Iron – Note the voltage is different
- Camera (Canon has some great refurbished ones)
- An alarm clock is not necessary/most use their phone
IMPORTANT: Bring along thin hangers and tiered skirt hangers due to limited closet space.
While you might like the familiarity of the hair products you’re used to, don’t stock up at home. You can buy many of the same brands in Israel, and these are formulated for use with the harder Israeli water. Also, if you’re used to using 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner or skipping conditioner altogether, that probably won’t work in Israel. The harder water will leave your hair feeling much more coarse and dry, so make sure to condition every time you wash.
All toiletries are sold in Israel, but it may not be the particular brand you like (like pads). Bring along things you are particular about, and buy the rest in Israel. Things that are small and easy to pack (i.e. nail scissor), buy in the U.S. (we removed the line about q-tips)
Cell phone plan – most schools specify where to buy a phone. See school rules.