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Israel – No school during Hanukkah? “Holiday school” programs for Hanukkah will not run this year due to budget deficits.

The program, instituted last year by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Likud) and former Education Minister Naftali Bennett (New Right) provided free in-school programming for students for five days of Hanukkah vacation.

The deficits are due, among other things, to the extended amount of time Israel’s government has been in limbo for. As a result, in order to fund the programs, Israeli parents will need to pay out of pocket.

MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) sent a letter to Kahlon and Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz (United Right), asking if they intend to solve the issue and what their plans are for continuing to run these programs.

“For several years, the Education Ministry has been running “holiday school” in all educational institutions. This gives children from preschool until grade three a school setting during the Hanukkah vacation,” Maklev wrote, adding that the holiday school “contributes much to continuing students’ education on the other hand, and helps the students’ parents during the Hanukkah vacation on the other hand.”

“Recently it was publicized that the decision was made to transfer the program’s budget to cover other needs of the Ministry, and that these programs will not run this coming Hanukkah.

“I will note that many local authorities prepared to run the programs this Hanukkah, and there is no doubt that if the Education Ministry does not run the program, these programs will become a significant expense for middle-class and lower-class parents who do not have the money to fund these expenses out of pocket, and this will directly influence the welfare and good of the students.”

While the average school year is 180 days, Israeli students are in school for 220 days, making the number of school days one of the highest in the OECD.

The plan includes five days of school during the Pesach (Passover) vacation during the current school year, and five days each of school during Hanukkah and Pesach vacations beginning in the coming school year (2018-2019).

The plan will run similarly to the “summer vacation school” and will include educational staff, extracurricular activities, cultural presentations, security, counselors, and the necessary equipment. It will be available for preschool children, as well as children in grades 1-3 and children in special education.

A few years ago, Israel’s Education Ministry instituted “summer vacation school,” in which students receive three weeks of subsidized “camp” at their school’s campus. The “camp” includes educational material and recreational activities, for children in grades 1-3.

Israel’s Arab and Druze sectors will receive the five days during their spring break.

Payment for the “holiday school” will be 20-30 NIS per day for those living in cities with a high socioeconomic ranking, and free for those living in towns with a low socioeconomic rating.

Parents receive 12 mandatory vacation days per year, dozens less than their children. However, instead of lobbying for additional vacation days for themselves, parents for several years have lobbied for cuts to the number of vacation days their children receive.