September 1st is always an exciting day – but also apprehensive for some – as the official school year begins. Some 2.2 million pupils from across the country started class today – among them 159,000 first-graders.

Pippi Longstocking quote outside Tel Aviv school: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”
Pippi Longstocking quote outside Tel Aviv school: “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

It is customary for elementary schools to set up balloon arches at their front gates to welcome students.

The Tel Aviv Municipality’s education department initiated a new project this year and spray painted inspiring quotes — from Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking and Hebrew poet Yehuda Atlas’s This Child is Also Me — on the sidewalks leading to 60 schools around the city.

The quote from Pippi Longstocking reads, “I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”

Balloons for the first day of school. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90
Balloons for the first day of school. Photo by Gershon Elinson/Flash90

The average classroom size in Israel is 40 students per class, though the Education Ministry is working to lower that number especially for first and second grades.

“Since the state was founded, the standard has been to have 40 students per class. We then set an upper limit whereby there would be up to 34 students per class, and 32 in weaker communities,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennet.

President Reuven Rivlin visits an elementary school in Kiryat Bialik, on the first day of school for first graders. Photo by Mark Neyman/GPO
President Reuven Rivlin visits an elementary school in Kiryat Bialik, on the first day of school for first graders. Photo by Mark Neyman/GPO

There are some 180,000 educators working in the Israeli school system, including 9,000 new teachers.

At the Mevoot Be’er Tuvia elementary school in the southern district of Israel, a record 13 sets of twins started kita alef (first grade) today.