For the second time in less than a month, President Reuven Rivlin was back in school for the start of the new school year.
The Orthodox school system begins on the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul, whereas state schools start the school year at the beginning of September.
The first time, Rivlin visited with hospitalized children attending special classes at the Mayaanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak. On Sunday, he joined first graders at the Noam Eliyahu religious state school in Netivot. The excited youngsters greeted him with song and with flags – an indication that they had been rehearsing before they ever officially got to first grade.
Rivlin sat in on the first lesson and said that even though he’s a grandfather today, he still remembers his first day at school and his meeting with his first grade teacher, Hava. This time he met with Rachel, who is the grade-one teacher in Netivot. He told the youngsters to remember her and to remember this important day in their lives on which they were embarking on a great journey of words and numbers. “Just now, your steps are still hesitant,” he said, “but the day will come when they will pave the way, will lead and will steer.”
Rivlin later addressed all the students of the school at an assembly in the school quadrangle, telling them that the first day of school is one of the happiest days in the year, a day of new beginnings for so many people – for parents, for teachers, and especially for the students, who are making a further advance in their studies, and are flourishing and reaching towards broader horizons. Rivlin had a special word of thanks to the teachers, “because we all know that everything starts with education.”
Netivot is a peripheral development town in the south of the country, and has been frequently targeted for rocket attacks from Gaza. The president was confident that leaders of the future will emerge from the current crop of Netivot school children.
Rivlin might have preferred to be at the school where his granddaughter Daniella was entering first grade, but instead he was part of a Yediot Aharonot project in which leading figures wrote letters to children and grandchildren who were entering grade one. In his letter to Daniella, Rivlin marveled at how quickly she had grown from being a tiny tot to a big girl, old enough to go to school. He urged her to be true to herself and to make her own choices.