"School's out for summer"! It's the end of June, and for many Israeli children and young adults this can only mean one thing: a two-month summer holiday ahead; a vacation looked forward to in direct correlation to parents' dread (especially working parents who have to worry about childcare). The familiar cry of 'summer holiday' does not require translation - it is an international children's expression that rises above language and culture. It's about freedom, time for friends, to 'chill' and do all those things that the school calendar would not allow for. Yet as a parent attempting to raise children in Israel, it seems that we have a long way to go.

I grew up in England, where education is top of the agenda: then-Prime Minister Tony Blair (now Middle East envoy) made his famous "Education, Education, Education" policy speech in Parliament and the education system in England reflects this priority. State schools have school from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. (in general); the Jewish schools tend to add a few hours on Sunday morning and can finish as late as 7 p.m. And the summer holidays tend to last for one month. The Israeli state system pales in comparison: the secular schools have a giant summer holiday and school ends at around 1-2 p.m. each day. Compare the much-criticized haredi yeshiva system in Israel currently: the yeshiva day tends to go from 9-7 and summer holidays are three weeks. This means that the average English student (and definitely the average Israeli haredi student) tends to receive around three times the hours of education that the secular Israeli receives.

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