It’s back to school time — time for a look back at some items that were once part of the Israeli educational experience, and today have all but ceased to exist. Some years ago, the wonderful site compiled a slide show on the topic that contains a few surprises for those who didn’t grow up here.

For example, unlike today, when it comes packaged in odorless, antiseptic capsules, fish oil came in bottles, smelled horrible and tasted worse. It was dispensed for the good of the children by school nurses, as in this photo from the Hadassah Medical Organization’s archives.


During the 1950s austerity period, “In first grade, at the beginning of the year, notebooks were cut in half and we practiced learning to write. Those who wrote nicely in their half notebook — received a whole one.”


“Kids today won’t believe us but to economize we used our pencils down to nub, helped by a pencil extender.”


In math class, there were multiplication tables to memorize (left) and maps to trace for geography class (right). “Aided by parchment paper, we copied maps from the atlas… Those who didn’t have money would rub a bit of kerosene on a piece of white paper that would turn it transparent.”


“The ideal bar-mitzva present. Gift-givers thought they were contributing to the education of a budding engineer but, in general, the recipients would remove the sharp ‘shpitzes’ from the compass set for use as pigeon-hunting arrows.”


“In the days preceding the start of the school year, we were all busy with the task of wrapping notebooks and schoolbooks in brown paper, and adding a white sticker proudly bearing the student’s name.”


All of these were carried to school in a leather schoolbag whose contents — and many more items — can be viewed at Nostalgia Online.