beginnings, school, school year, summer, summer vacation


When I arrived at work today, my first reaction was, “I did it.”

I actually survived the summer.

That’s not to say that I don’t love summer vacation or love having time off with my kids. I do.

What I don’t love is juggling work with my kids’ non-existent summer camp, creating many days when my 11 year old was in charge of “Camp Sussman.” And Camp Sussman often looked more like camp television and camp computer than it did anything else.

But we did it. We all survived and even enjoyed ourselves, and now it’s time for new beginnings. Here was the first one this morning.

And as the first day of school rolls around, I get nostalgic, of course.

I don’t recall the beginning to every single school year, but I vividly remember the few days before our first school year in Israel. It was August of 2004 and we had just arrived. The night before school started, we went to meet with some members of the Neve Daniel yishuv to talk about the community. I remember that they had their kids’ backpacks all lined up against the wall by their front door. We only had a four year old, a two year old and a baby on the way at the time and no backpacks to speak of; and their organization and excitement struck me as so cute.

The next morning, we awoke to our upstairs neighbor and landlord calling out in a sing-song voice, “School! School! It’s the first day of school! Good morning everyone.”
It was so sweet to hear him getting his house ready, but I didn’t quite understand, at that moment, just what the first day of school in Israel is like. The entire country starts day care, nursery school and elementary school on the same day. High schools tend to start a few days earlier, but the entire rest of the country mobilizes at the same moment.
So today, at 6:30 am, the entire country woke up and started getting their kids ready for that first day of school. They were snapping pictures, fixing clothing, calming nerves and sending the kids on their way.

It’s hard to describe how pervasive the Jewish holidays are here – how much the rhythm of the country pulsates to the same tune. 

And the beginning of the school year is exactly the same.

The country is in it together, sending our kids off to school with a wave and a smile, and hoping for another wonderful year. The streets are packed with kid-filled cars; the commotion in front of the schools can be heard from blocks away; and work environments almost all start late, as the parents come rushing in after drop off. Facebook, of course, is abuzz with every first-day picture and parents are all breathing a collective sigh of relief while nervously awaiting the moment when the kids walk in the door with the first report.

It is hard to believe how fast the passage of time happens; and this is brought home when I go searching for those back-to-school pictures. And then we discussed last night that today’s picture is the last that they will all take together, since Matan will head out to high school a few days before the other boys begin next year. Yes, there is always Photoshop, but it’s not quite the same.
May this year bring the boys great school experiences, growth, self-awareness, self-confidence and health. And may it be a truly special year for all of us as we enter again into the school year and get ready for Rosh Hashanah next week.

A trip down memory lane:

2004..ready for our first school year in Israel!
September 2005
September 2006
September 2007
September 2008
September 2009
September 2010
September 2011

August 2012


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