Yisrael’s First Day of School in Israel

The Wednesday before school started we attended an orientation and tour for olim parents and children. Here are some of the photos from our tour:

These three are what you see in the main entrance area of the Boys’ school.

Here Yisrael is finding his way to his classroom – 3 flights of stairs down.

And this is the view from his room

That evening I attended an informative Nefesh B’Nefesh seminar about the Education system that included what to expect during the first year and resources to help our children succeed. It was a very good presentation, I just wish they had given it a month before school started so I would have known that I needed to be making calls and pushing for meetings so that everything would be in place the first day of school. I suppose if I had taken the time to scour their website I might have known some of this in advance.

Sunday was Yisrael’s first day of school and it went relatively well considering his Hebrew skills are quite elementary compared to most of the boys in his class, and the fact that neither his teacher nor Rabbi speaks English. Fortunately there are 5 English speaking boys in his class and a few of them seem to not mind his interrupting them to ask what the teacher is talking about.

The morning began with his teacher handing out treats at the school entrance to make the first day a sweet one (smart woman!)

Michael and I walked him to his classroom. There we met an English speaking mother who has been a teacher in this (and the girls’) school for 14 years. She sat Yisrael with her son and he agreed to be Yisrael’s translator.

At 7:50 Michael stepped out of the room – he’s much more attuned to noticing that we were the only parents left in the room. While out in the hall he ran into Morah Deganit, Yisrael’s first grade teacher from Cleveland! It turns out that her son is in the 1st grade class next door to Yisrael’s. She came in the room and greeted Yisrael with warm hugs and spoke softly to him about making sure he speaks up and asks questions when he doesn’t understand something.

She then made sure he was able to locate the drawer with his name (in Hebrew script) that he would need to place his books and supplies in – and the hook where he is to hang his backpack. She kindly gave me her number in case we need anything. She just moved in 2 weeks ago with 4 children and she’s offering me help! Deganit deserves the Teacher of the Year award in my book – she truly helped ease the stress of his first day of school!

At 8:00 there was still no teacher in the room, but I was impressed that the boys were seated quietly and decided it was okay to leave. This was quite a contrast from our mornings at Mizrachi where the children would climb on furniture and chase and hurt each other until the teacher arrived.

As we walked home, Michael made note of my separation anxiety and warned me that it wasn’t good for me to hang out in the classroom waiting for the teacher to arrive because it was embarrassing our son. My heart sunk as I came to the realization that my 7-year-old doesn’t need me anymore.

I sent Michael to pick Yisrael up at 12:30 so as not to further embarrass him. He was happy with his first day experience; his teacher didn’t spend much time with them, he daydreamed during the many assembly speeches he didn’t understand, and enjoyed several opportunities for recess. I found this disturbing, but he was happy.

Then Michael handed me two slips of paper in Hebrew; the first had information about the reduced school hours for the first two weeks and bus schedules, the second was his daily schedule indicating what periods/days he has what classes. Neither of us were able to read it, which was upsetting because we at least needed to know what days he has physical education because he has to wear a school t-shirt that day. We had plans to go to Hezekiah’s Tunnel to celebrate the first day of school so we put off dealing with this.

The following day I managed to get some help in translating it – here’s what it looks like after I typed it into Excel – it was a good exercise in Hebrew typing skills.


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