By Shelley Schwarzbaum
After mastering milk in bags, people shoving on line, and all the other idiosyncrasies of Israeli life, I would say that education is really “the last frontier” to adjusting to life in Israel. It’s not a matter of “better” or “worse”, but many things here are simply done differently from what the average Anglo Oleh is used to. So, before we get to specific schools, I’d like to put in my 2c (and the opinions here are only my own) about some of the differences (not Rehovot-specific) between the Israeli and American systems.
My personal experience is with the State religious systems. We have five kids (three of whom were born here), with the oldest in a combined army-law school program, and the youngest entering 3rd grade. My comments are based of course- on our personal experience with a limited number of schools.
Early childhood education is covered extensively, below, so I will stick to elementary & high schools. For elementary school, all my kids went/go to Tachkemoni (see below), the local State Religious school. The main difference, that explains all other differences, is that this is public school. The main plus, here, is almost-free tuition (parents pay for books, class trips, and various extras). The negatives is that not only do the parents not have too much input, but the school itself doesn’t really have any control: class size is large (usually 30-35 kids per class), it is very difficult to expel a problem child, and the school doesn’t have much that they can offer to attract the best and the brightest teachers. The schools are fairly successful at teaching basic skills, and facts; they try very hard, but a certain excitement is missing. Too many complaints or suggestions are answered with “ze ma sheyesh” this is what there is.
In high school, there are “good schools” and “good classes”.
By Sara Feigelson
This is a “family-sized and styled” daycare in the caregiver’s home, usually limited to 5 children of more or less the same age group (within a one-year span), available for 3 month-3 y.o. children. Some are run privately, some are sponsored and certified by the Rehovot municipality.
The mishpachton is as good as the caregiver who runs it. Some are truly excellent. My daughter attended a “Rehovot municipality sponsored” one run by a warm, energetic, lovely woman who kept an immaculate home, had an apt. full of age-appropriate fun and educational toys, who delighted the children with her lessons and play, and just her endless energy to sing and interact with the children all day long.
The caregiver stuck to a daily schedule of activities and covered various “lesson plans” much the way a Maon does (taught all of the colors, seasons, body parts, etc. and had special emphasis on chagim). In a Mishpachton you get many “home advantages” over a Maon: More individual attention. Diapers are changed immediately after they are soiled. When my daughter was teething, the caregiver gave her specially prepared mushy foods to eat. If a child had a rough night and was tired in the morning s/he could rest on the side and did not have to participate in the “group activity of the hour.” A mishpachton can also come with home disadvantages (and distractions)- the caregivers’ own kids may come home in the afternoon, the home telephone rings, an irresponsible one may be tempted to watch TV or do her own household chores… City certification involves “hishtalmut” classes, drop-in inspections, etc. to weed out the irresponsible, but of course the best way to find out about a Mishpachton is to visit it on site and speak to parents who sent their kids there in the past.
All mishpachtonim on the north side of Rehovot are in apartments, and the caregiver will use her mirpesot or the apt. yard for outdoor play, while some in mid-town or on the south side of town are held in private homes with private yards. The hrs. are Sun-Thurs. 7 or 7:30 until 4:00, some also include Fri. 7/7:30-12. All mishpachtonim serve home-cooked breakfast and (hot, meat) lunch meals.
The cost of the Rehovot sponsored Mishpachtonim is identical to the cost of the State sponsored Maonot (Wizo, Naamat, Emunah, etc.) is approx. 1,500 shekels/month. The cost of private ones can run higher. Most mishpachtonim also provide 1-2 extra chugim of gymboree sport and/or music at an additional monthly cost (approx. 100 shekels/month/chug).
By Sara Feigelson
There are numerous Maonot on the north side of Rehovot- Naamat runs one on Shai St., (near the Rabbanut), Eizorai Weizmann has its own, Wizo runs one on Pinsker St. (near the side gate of the Weizmann Inst.), Weizmann runs a Wizo-sponsored one for its employees’ kids, and Emunah runs a religious one between Meltzer and Miller Sts. (right near the Berman’s shul).
Some Maonot have a mimum age of 18 months, while others take children from 3 months. I am most familiar with Emunah, which was the “home-away-from-home, ” for 8 hrs. a day, for 2 former and one present child. First impressions aren’t great. There are over 15 (!) infants in the youngest class, and on average 35-38 kids (!) in the other 3 classes, at any given hour you can smell a few soiled diapers that haven’t been changed yet, and inevitably in the early morning you can hear a handful of cries, and see a dozen runny noses. That’s all true, and unfortunate. But let me tell you why, having tried out the metapelet and mishpachton route, even all financial factors aside, I choose to send my present child and would likely send any potential future children to Maon Emunah. In short, because the system works, the staff are excellent, and my children all love(d) it there. Yes, the staff are overworked and underpaid- but the amazing thing is that they are extremely HARDWORKING and extremely DEVOTED to the children. No doubt that I would tear all of my hair out after 1 hour on the job. But Maon Emunah has succeeded to find 3-4 staff members per class who are GREAT at what they do. They teach, they sing, they dance, they play and make art projects, they get even the youngest kids to sit quietly in a circle and participate in a variety of activities, they get through their “lesson plans” which include great shabbat and chagim enrichment, and the kids have well supervised indoor and outdoor play.
My children all (eventually) jump(ed) out of my arms in the morning, eager to see their friends and metaplot and join the fun. And here are some of the best hidden advantages- the cook cooks, someone else answers the phone, there is no tv, there are no “other household chores” to do and there is NO room for any caretaker to sit top and relax and neglect the children. Can’t happen and never will- simply because there are 2-3 other adults in the room and many more in eye-sight inside and outside in the yard. You can’t sleep on the job because everyone else is watching you! So lucky for the caretakers, there are other adults to talk to and lucky for us, there is a built-in quality check. And in my mind, not matter how excellent the metapelet or how excellent the mishpachton caregiver, and for that matter, no matter how excellent and devoted the PARENT,- there is no other setting for your child in which there are 3-4 caregivers who have NOTHING else to do except take care of him/her!
Cost for all of the above “public” Maonot is set by the govt. (approx. 1,800 shekels for infants under a year old, 1,500 shekels for children 1-4) plus Emunah (and I believe all Maonot) offers 2 additional weekly chugim (music and nature) for an additional approx. 50 shekels/month/chug.
For religious schools you have three "levels": mamlakhti dati, mamlakhti dati torani ("noam") or haredi (aguda, beis yaakov, habad, kretshneff, plus probably a lot more I don't know about). We are schizophrenic, and our two boys (3rd and 5th grade) are in mamlachti dati, our 1st grade daughter is in noam, and our nursery-age daughter is in an aguda gan (where we have now had kids for 5 years in a row). The difference between the schools at the elementary school level is mostly just a matter of the balance between kodesh and hol. I find the torani curriculum in the mamad our sons are at quite adequate, and the school (called Tahkemoni, there is another local mamad called Maalot Meshulam) has the pluses of a large Anglo contingent, which means there is an English for English speakers program, and also a strong science program. The minuses are that there are quite a few kids from less "frum" families, and also there is a large Ethiopian contingent; of course, I am happy that the school agreed to take in Ethiopian kids, but the scale is just a little too much. Maalot Meshulam does not have these problems (it's in a frummer area), but neither does it have the Anglo population. Both mamadim are mixed, while the more right schools are not.
By Stephen Epstein
There are a number of schools to choose from for children of all ages and religious backgrounds. We send one of our children to Tachkemoni, which is the regular Mamlachti Dati school. My daughter has 30 kids in her class and there is one teacher and an assistant. We were surprised when we were told that each child has to bring a roll of toilet paper to class the 1st week of school for the classes "stash" because the school does not provide toilet paper in the washrooms. It turns out this is pretty standard in schools across Israel. My daughter has an English language chug after school twice a week and when they reach higher grades they are pulled out of class when the other kids learn English so they can be taught at a higher level.
Friends of ours who spent a year in the USA after having their kids in the chug told us that their kids were able to go into regular schools and their English was on par with the American kids.
I recall seeing a Nefesh B'Nefesh advertisement in a Jewish newspaper before making Aliyah. It read: "We wanted to give our kids a great Jewish education, so we sent them to public school...in Israel." I don't know if the schools in Israel are great but I know that they are reasonably priced (not totally free) and more advanced in some subjects than North American schools.
After you have your Teudat Zehut (identity card) showing your address in Rehovot you can register your children for the public school system through the city. They might allow registration after seeing proof of residence such as a lease or deed to an apartment. The number to the department of education is: 08 939-2403.
During the year of Kitah Aleph kids go through various milestones that mark their year. After they have mastered reading Hebrew they have a Mesibat Siddur. The kids prepare for weeks, learning songs and dance routines to help them make the event a memorable one. Our daughter's class started their Mesibat Siddur at the school. They performed their songs and dances and then the kids, together with parents, got on buses and were taken to Jerusalem. There the kids attended a program and heard a lecture at the building where Rav Kook used to live. Afterwards we all proceeded to the Kotel for the most important part of the day. The kids all lined up and their teachers presented each of them with a siddur. They then went to the kotel to say tefillot.
The Mesibat Chumash, also a very moving occassion happens at the end of the school year. The children were taken to a Beit Knesset and heard a dvar Torah from Rav Simcha HaKohen Kook, the chief Rabbi of Rehovot. Afterwards they walked with a chupa back to school where they were greeted by the entire student body and faculty. They all danced and sang in the schoolyard. Afterwards they were treated to a special demonstration of a Sofer who showed them how Torahs are written. These moments are priceless and one of the many reasons we made aliyah.
While in the past, class sizes were very large, the new entering classes (including present 1st and 2nd grades in 2007) contain just 26-29 kids per class. Also, parents privately pay for a part-time assistant in the 1st and 2nd grades, which collectively gives a great teacher (and/or assistant): child ratio.
Netivot Moshe has grades from 1 to 6 and each year an additional grade is added. The school will stop at grade 8. The school's philosophy encourages basic Jewish values such as honoring parents and teachers.
Although the school is mixed there are separate classes for boys and girls, separate offices and eventually there may be separate campuses for boys and girls. Class sizes are approximately 25-27 students per class. The school is open to children from all backgrounds. There are not a lot of Anglo kids in the school.
By Rachel Mazor
Maon Oz David is a small religious school located in Kiryat Moshe, Rehovot. Run by Rav Cohen with warm and friendly teachers. It's geared to both the non-religious and charedi community, (help from the state? I don't know yet the correct wording, I guess it means they are public to everyone, and you can get a discount if the mother is working/if the parents made Aliyah you get a huge discount)
The Rabbi's wife does the cooking on site, they use strictly kosher Badatz, dairy and soy nutritious and wholesome food.
They have special teacher coming in for music and gymboree. They run from Sun-Thurs. 7am-4pm, Fri 7am-12pm all year, with Jewish holidays, Shabbat and Yom Hatzmaut they are closed. They can be reached at 08-946-0614
By Rachel Mazor
My son will be attending Gan "Ben Ish Chayil" near the Kretshnif area. It's a Gan for ages 3-5, on Rachov Chish. It's across the street from the Rabbi Hagon Kretshnif house. It's geared towards the Charedi religous community, 90% are Sephardi while 10% are Anglo/Ethiopian/Ashknazi. Cost of Gan for age 3, costs drop waaaay down. They operate 7am - 1pm. Since they do not serve breakfast or lunch, the parents who need extra time arrange a van to drop the kids off at aftercare. They do aftercare, which is run by me at home from 1pm-5pm for a extra fee.
Registration for the Gan is at the School, On Rachov Menashe Kapara during school times. The School as of right now is Kita Alef - Vav. The school and Gan is running into their third year of opperation. The Rabbi is Rav Chalibi (something like that), has it's own way of running things and his way of thinking that he thinks and knows for the new generation of charedi children and you can see the differeance.
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Kfar Gevirol (also known as the the Ibn Gevirol neighborhood), located just north of Yavne Road on the west side of Rehovot, combines the best of rural country living with the advantages of the city. Adjacent to the new upscale Rehovot Haholandit neighborhood, Kfar Gevirol consists of southern and northern areas of townhouses and semi-detached homes ("b'nai bet'ha"), with apartment blocks in the center of the neighborhood. Read More>>>