2.3 Million Students Return to School, 600,000 in Chareidi Institutions

An empty classroom at a school in Mevaseret Zion, last week, ahead of the new school year. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After a labor scare in recent days in which teachers threatened to stay home, some 2,354,000 students in the state school system returned to their studies Sunday. Of the total, 168,000 will be beginning first grade, with 35,000 of them in Talmudei Torah. Over 200,000 teachers, assistants and administrative workers will be joining them, 32,000 of them in the chareidi sector.

Some 470,000 of those students will be attending chareidi-affiliated institutions. When counted altogether, over 600,000 students will be attending those institutions, from kindergartens through kollelim. In a rare coincidence, the start date of the school year – September 1 – coincides with Rosh Chodesh Elul, the beginning of the Elul zman in yeshivos and kollelim.

Speaking Motzoei Shabbos, Education Minister Rafi Peretz said that “during this period of great challenges, our work is not done when students leave school for home. The job of the education system is to accompany students and guide them both inside and outside school. We are trying to build a moral society, one that loves its fellow man and proclaims the principle of caring for one another.”

While most schools opened without incident Sunday, 73 schools and kindergartens remained closed due to various local issues and disputes. In addition, some 1,300 teachers working under private contract teaching children from troubled backgrounds are staying off the job, on strike until a new contract is negotiated on their behalf, the Education Ministry said.