After more than two months of summer holidays, today is the day: 2.3 million Israeli children are back at school.
In what has become an annual tradition, just hours before the first day of school, parents were left uncertain if they’d be able to send their children to class, as the various teachers’ unions threatened a mass strike. In the end, a temporary compromise was reached between the teachers and the Ministry of Education, and schools across the country opened as scheduled.
That doesn’t mean the problems have disappeared. Israel’s school system suffers from a serious lack of funding that results in, among other things, not enough school buses and unacceptably-large class sizes (too few teachers responsible for too many students).
But for today, all most parents can do is breathe a sigh of relief. Most summer camps in Israel take place earlier in the vacation, meaning that for much of the month of August, parents must somehow juggle entertaining their children with the need to go back to work themselves. Often, grandparents step in to help out, but many Israelis don’t have that luxury, especially those who made immigrated from abroad.
Back to school
Officials at the Ministry of Education work to ensure a smooth start to the new school year.
Particularly exciting is the first day of school for new first graders. “Shalom Kita Aleph” (Shalom First Grade) is a famous song that gets played non-stop on local radio during the first day of school.
With the start of a new school year also comes the return of morning traffic. But soon will come the Autumn holidays, and before that, yet another early election! So, while we are returning to routine, life in Israel, as usual, is never boring.
For this writer, the start of the 2019 school year was a special one. For the first time in 22 years, I had no children to send off to class. Here’s to a great school year for all Israeli students!