Back-to School Shopping


I know we’re already deep into Rosh Hashanah and, unfortunately, politics and terror, but I hope it’s not too late to share this picture from one of my visits to the bookstore to amass the required materials.

While the owner of the store was ringing up my purchase, someone called looking for a phone number. The owner scanned the store. "Penina," she said to a customer. Do you have this number? Penina did.The owner tossed her daughter one phone and Penina tossed her the other. Presumably the third one belongs to the daughter.

A second daughter had her arm in a sling, but that didn’t stop her from "slinging" our NIS 900 book order from one counter to another.

Most scandalous school supply request: An NIS 30 set of plastic sticks that look like test tubes cut lengthwise and marked with colored lines, for my fourth grader to learn fractions. Second-most scandalous school reply request: Workbooks that ask kids to write a few sentences every third page and include at least one or two pages that need to be cut, glued or colored on so the books can’t be resold or handed down easily.

Happy cooking. If you’re an Orthodox Jewish woman, enjoy the fact that you aren’t expected to spend an extra hour in shul every weekday until Yom Kippur. Unless you have small children, and getting to shul on your own while your husband takes care of them, is a relief.


  1. Nurse Yachne says

    I have always wondered how they get away with this year after year. A new math textbook! As though the math has changed, for heaven’s sake! Incredibly, scandalously wasteful. As a graduate of the public school system, I instinctively quake with fear at the thought of writing in a schoolbook. As a graduate of the day school system, my husband remembers getting mimeographed pages adjusting for the change in the new additions of the textbooks, so that those who still had the old editions could use them.

    We cut and pasted plenty in my day, but to cut or paste a SCHOOLBOOK?

  2. I remember having to copy problems out of math books and it taking (seemingly) hours and hours. I think it’s not so bad to have that in a workbook, but for most subjects, it seems like it would be easier to have a textbook and a (thin and cheap) activity book. The textbook can be resold/reused year after year, and every parent buys the 15-20 shekel activity book for their child each year.
    I really think schools should put their (collective) feet down and insist on re-usable textbooks and have them run through the schools so that students pay a book fee to the school, get used textbooks, and give them back at the end of the year.

    Yes, the administrative work involved is heavy, but parents shouldn’t have to break the budget for school books. Heck, get some parent volunteers. I’m sure that there are plenty of parents who would be willing to volunteer if they knew it would save them 200 shekel per kid per year.

    • Many of the books do have an accompanying workbook so the book can be resold. The workbook materials are generally of too high-quality and therefore expensive, but it is better than the type I described.

  3. Aviva-Hadas says

    I don’t think that “workbooks” the kind that you color/write/paste/etc. in were ever intended to be reused or sold…

    As an ex-public school teacher in Baltimore City & Baltimore County Maryland – I made & spent my paltry salary to provide manipulatives and work book pages… So I am actually happy to read that so of the education expense is being paid by the family. (In my schools, I provided pencils & lined paper too – or no work would be done & half the period would be spent having the students trying to borrow from the few who did come prepared.)

  4. Fortunately, the school that my two youngest children go to provides all the books, which we return at the end of the year. I just have to give a check for security. I do remember the crazy runaround from place to place to find the books, hopefully second hand but not always. They would change the books from year to year for the same class, making handing down irrelevant. All those plastic and wooden doodads for math…. makes me think of how we learned math years ago, without all kinds of equipment. I think that keeping it all simple was better, in the short and long run. I remember reading in one of La Leche’s books, I think it may have been the Motherly Art of Breastfeeding but I might be mistaken, how one of the founders described her children learning at home, sort of by the way, participating in daily chores and household activities.
    I think it is sad that today so many kids spend so much time on the computer and in front of the TV, or on some other electronic brain mush machine, instead of actively participating in daily household chores, and need to be invited to do so.
    Wow do I sound THAT old?
    Shana Tova!

  5. Ms. Krieger says

    When I was in school (US public) we always got hand-me-down books from other children, reused year after year. It was somewhat enjoyable to read the grafitti and scribbles left behind by students of years past 🙂 I remember the excitement and novelty of getting a NEW textbook! Very rare.

    In university my professors often assembled textbooks made of photocopied pages from many sources, arranged to the professor’s liking (I suppose they had graduate students or administrative professionals put the books together.) Perhaps volunteer parents could do this at the elementary and secondary school level. If families all chipped in to pay for the supplies it would be fairly cheap…

    No, you don’t sound old at all! I agree that there is much learning to be done while participating in the work of daily life. And little kids instinctively want to be involved and help out and learn!

  6. *sigh* it really is that time of year, isn’t it? love the image that we’re all school shopping and holidays prepping at the same time, from so far away. also love the image of everything slinging about! 🙂

    & btw, your site looks fab-u-lous!!

  7. I once again continue to give thanks that someone up here ‘in the periphery’ convinced the schools to do centralized book purchasing for primary schools.

    As part of our 775NIS fee, we get all the books – some are used (chumash, navi, science book for older grades, geography, hebrew, etc) and some are workbooks (math and hebrew, etc for the very young grades). They also supply with that whatever other additions come with the math workbooks too.

    I dread kitah zayin next year where i might have to enter the world of israeli text book purchasing.


    • In the summer, the elem. school had a sale for the first time. You could also sell or donate older books, and the stores promised to donate new books for everyone bought by parents. Unfortunately, I was out of the country.

  8. Ours isn’t even a school sale like you describe but an official polciy – part of the annual 775 NIS fee includes that they supply the entire set of books. (Thats that fee that includes insurance, tiyulim, etc authorized by misrad hahinukh). Its not optional, its mandatory to work this way. And I htink its all the schools in our city as I know that the mamad + all the regular mamlachti elementary use the exact same math books and i believe science books which the city works to buy in bulk. (Dati schools do have diferent books for hebrew literature and also kitah aleph hebew, though i think it might be the same lashon book as well and geography. But obviously dinim, torah, etc are unique)

    After you pay your yearly fee or deposit (if you are applying for gov’t subsidy), you go up to the school library with the petek and are handed the bag of school books. At the end of the year, the teachers collect all the books back – your kids can’t get their report card at end of the year if the required books aren’t returned (or $ paid to replace).


    • Just got the kids books this afternoon – 6th grade has only math books that are written in and all others are re-used (though dinim text book is new this year and it appears they replaced some of the science books due to wear out).

      My 3rd grade had math and english workbooks and everything else was intended for re-use and again, except dinim, was all obviously previously used.


  9. The teachers’ lists get longer and more specific every year. The topper of this year is my high school daughter’s math teacher who requires 2 large binders devoted exclusively to math (not to be mixed in with other subjects) and sheet protectors. I also find it very petty when teachers specify what type of binders are to be used and want color coded folders and notebooks for kids who are way beyond the level of having to distinguish by color alone!


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