Photo Credit: Givat Ada Archive via Pikiwiki
First graders having lunch at the Givat Ada elementary school, 1946

Americans who’ve grown up with the hazy notion that the new school year starts the day after Labor Day, which is the first Monday in September, are often taken aback by the preciseness of the European approach: it’s Sept. 1, if it didn’t fall on the weekend – off to school you go, yes even if it’s Friday.

And so, on Friday, September 1, 2017, more than 2.2 million Israeli students have reported to their local educational facility, including 163,000 first graders and 123,500 twelfth graders, and everybody will be looking up for guidance, instruction and advice from 180,000 teaching staff.

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According to Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), the new school year will be marked by major reforms: the English as a second language program is witching to spoken English; the afternoon Nitzanim program which offer students social activities, develops creative thinking, helps with homework, and serves a hot and nutritious meal; second teacher assistant in classrooms; reduced class sizes in grades 1-3; expansion of the differential budgeting, based on student’s economic strata; reforming the adaptations for students with learning disabilities; pushing the maximum Mathematics program – 5 units – in periphery cities; expanding social involvement to include junior high schools; and, something we’ll hear about a lot next year – it’s the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel!

Minister Bennett issued a new-school-year statement saying: “I congratulate the students and parents who open the new school year and wish you a year of activity, meaning and enjoyment of the learning processes in school.

I also congratulate the principals and teachers of Israel on the occasion of the new school year. You are the backbone of this important system. Thanks to your important and meaningful educational work, the system is moving forward today. It picks up the yield of your moral and educational achievements.

“I know that this year, too, as in the previous year, you will continue to support the students who have difficulties – do not give up on them and do not give in to them.

“You will continue to integrate students into community involvement, equip their schoolbags with the values of tolerance, of giving and of love of the land.

“I know that all these involve endless work, after-school and into the night. And for that, I give thanks and appreciation in my name and in the name of Israeli society,” the Education Minister concluded.

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