“Beit Sefer Yesodi” – Elementary School

Written by on August 19, 2016 in

In Israel, elementary school (beit sefer yesodi), is typically first grade (kitah aleph) through sixth grade (kitah vav).

Days, Hours, Vacation:

In most schools, the formal school day is from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm Sunday – Thursday. On Fridays, most schools get out at 11:45 am. Most schools also offer an afternoon program (tzaharon) until 4:00 pm.

Schools are closed for all major Jewish holidays, Erev Chag, and Isru Chag.

The standard calendar is available on the website of the ministry of education (misrad hachinuch):


What to send:

Kids need a backpack (tik). Because of weight, many kids use a backpack on wheels.

Kids need a pencil bag (kalmar). Most teachers request basic supplies such as pencils, markers, glue, and scissors. Kids will need small notebooks and folders according to the teacher’s request. Prices for all school supplies are compared here:

Kids need to bring a morning snack (aruchat esser) and water bottle. A typical aruchat esser includes a sandwich (prusa) plus a fruit and vegetable.

In most schools, students are required to wear a shirt with the school’s emblem (semel) printed on it. All major clothing stores sell t-shirts and sweatshirts meant for school (chultzot beit sefer) and they also carry all the school emblems.



Every grade receives a list of books to buy for the school year including text books and many work books. You can order the books online or go to a local school supplies store to purchase them. It is common to find that stores run out of the books that you need! Many schools also offer a discounted book borrowing program (hashalat sefarim) through which the school will give your child all of their books for a discounted price (but the books will be used and the children have to write answers in notebooks)



Every school has a principal (menahel/el) and usually a vice principal (sgan/it menahel/et) Every grade has a “homeroom teacher” (mechanech/et). They also have other teachers for specific subjects (mikzaot) such as science and gym. Many schools have additional support staff such as a national service girl (bat sherut) or a remedial teacher (morah metakenet). Every school has a counselor (yoetz/et) who has a certain number of hours to address individual emotional and academic challenges. Most schools have a secretary (mazkira). There is not a school nurse.


There are standardized fees that are collected by all public schools for insurance, cultural activities, and trips. The breakdown of the amounts can be viewed here in Hebrew: http://edu.gov.il/owlHeb/Pages/payment.aspx. The fees vary depending on the grade level.

Ceremonies and Parties

Every school hosts many ceremonies (tekesim) and parties (mesibot) throughout the year. Some of these programs are for the children only and some of them are intended for the parents as well, scheduled either in the evenings or Friday morning. Schools typically will have a tekes for days such as yom hazikaron, yom haatzmaut, yom hashoah. They may also have a tekes to mark the beginning and end of the year and academic excellence. A tekes typically includes greetings (brachot), student performances, and cerאificates (teudot). Related to tekesim are mesibot. There may be a mesiba for a holiday or for receiving a first siddur or chumash. Often students are assigned a food item to bring to a mesiba.



Schools and teachers may communicate with the parents in many different ways. Some teachers will write in students’ communcation notebook (machberet kesher). Teachers or schools may distribute a class list (daf kesher). Many teachers now use whatsapp groups to communicate messages to all of the parents. Schools hold two parent-teacher conferences (asifat horim) during the year.



The ministry of health (misrad habriyut) assigns nurses to multiple schools. Services include basic vision, hearing, and dental exams. Vaccinations are also given at school starting in the first grade. More information about the role of misrad habriyut in schools can be found on their website in English:



Assistance with Hebrew Language

Olim children are entitled to  to six hours of “Oleh hours” in which they receive extra help in Hebrew and other subjects that may be new to them. It is important to understand that the school principal must request extra funding for these hours from the ministry of education. Olim students will be pulled out of their regular class to receive these hours of assistance with a specialized teacher. If there is a large number of Olim children, a school may open a special ulpan class for them. Information in Hebrew about the rights of Olim students can be found here:

It is essential that parents advocate for their child’s particular needs. Some Olim children integrate smoothly and quickly both academically and socially with little intervention. Others need more assistance which can come in many different forms, including private tutoring.


Additional Resources

The Nefesh B’Nefesh website has lots of helpful articles on understanding the Israeli educational system:


Have a successful year of learning (shanat limudim mutzlachat!




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