Plan to Cut Israeli Youngsters’ School Vacation Gains Support

Schools are now closed for more than a week during both the Hanukkah and Passover holidays, posing a problem for working parents who don’t have off for most of those days

Kindergarten children celebrate Hanukkah in Ramle.
Nir Kafri

The Teachers Union supports an Education Ministry plan to eliminate seven to 10 vacation days for young children by expanding the activities of the ministry’s subsidized camps.

Currently, schools are closed for more than a week during both the Hanukkah and Passover holidays. This poses a problem for working parents, who don’t have off for most of those days. Thus the ministry’s idea is to replace some of those vacation days with enrichment activities at the schools for children in first through third grade.

A similar program already exists during part of the summer vacation.

The Hanukkah and Passover camps are supposed to start during the upcoming school year. The Finance Ministry supports the idea, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of shekels, but hasn’t yet allocated a specific budget for it. Teachers will be able to choose whether to work at the camps, and those who do will be paid.

The plan is tentatively supposed to include kindergartners as well, but it’s not clear whether enough funding will be found for this.

The Education Ministry also wants to add two regular school days to the calendar – the day after Passover and the day after the Shavuot holiday, both of which are currently vacation days.

As first reported by Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday, the ministry is also considering letting teachers take seven vacation days of their own choosing in exchange for teaching at the vacation camps and on the two post-holiday days. But the Teachers Union says this is impracticable, due to both the difficulty of finding substitutes and of synchronizing all the teachers’ vacation requests. Currently, all teachers are off on the same days, which are known in advance.

Another idea under consideration is slashing the teachers’ vacation allowance by seven days. But the union opposes this, and it is considered extremely unlikely.