You have heard a lot about Israeli summer – it’s hot, it’s moist and it’s absolutely amazing.
No, I am not being sarcastic – when you have Israeli beaches to spend those hot summer days – it is amazing!
As an adult you don’t have “summer vacation” so the summer is not really a big change during the week. However, when you are a kid? You can’t wait for the school year to end.
Israel does not have sleep-away summer camps like there are in the USA; we have “day camps” where kids go to camp every day between 8am and 5pm so that the parents can go to work. There are the regular summer day camps where kids just have fun all day long and make new friends and experiences, and there are specialty day camps such as English camp (for learning English), art camp and even software coding camp (yes, we start them young). Day camps are usually a few weeks long, which means most kids get to go to two different camps during the summer vacation.
When you are older than primary school, you no longer want to go to day camps, you want to spend your day with friends, sleep in late and stay out late – feel like you’re an adult. So you spend your time doing teenage things like going to the beach (you can use the railway systems for most beaches in Israel), hanging out in malls and spending all of your time with your friends.
Many teenagers also use their summer vacation to volunteer in their communities, operate day camps for needing families free of charge, renovating homes for people who cannot do it themselves and other meaningful ways to help the community around them.
When you are 14 years old, you can event act more like an adult, spend your summer vacation working in a temporary position, and earn some money to spend during the summer (kids under 15 can’t work during the school year). There are very strict rules for employing young teenagers during summer vacation and very hefty fines to those who break those rules.
Once you are out of school, at 18, you have one of two options – you either are drafted early and don’t have any summer vacation left, of you get drafted later and get to enjoy one last summer vacation. Of course, pre-army Israelis usually work to save up some money to use during the army service (or go on vacation before the draft), but usually pre-army teens work jobs that have shifts and are naturally temporary (waitressing, cashiers etc.). They are unlikely to find a full time job where you will earn a decent salary before your draft, because you will leave, and it probably won’t take long before you do.
So how to pre-army (and really, post-army and pre-university) Israelis do all summer long?
Between shifts, you will probably find most of them at the beach, cooling off in those hot summer days. When the heat gets too much, and the beach doesn’t cut it – you will probably find them at malls with their friends in the cool air-conditioning.
When you are older, after the army and even during university years, things change a bit. You probably will not go on to the same school as your best friends or even friends from the army, so summer vacation (also known in Israeli academic “exams”) will probably be spent meeting friends around the country, working to help pay for the next school year, and volunteering. Yes, many students that do their B.A in social sciences spend a lot of their time volunteering as a requirement for an M.A in their perspective fields, so when there are no classes it is the perfect time to put the hours you need and get a recommendation. In addition, it is a good way to experience the field you are interested in without harming your schoolwork.
What about Israeli that actually have a summer vacation after university?
Well this doesn’t happen a lot since work places don’t give you time off for the summer (wouldn’t that be amazing?)
However, in the rare occasion that it happens – we go to the beach, as much as we can and meet friends we haven’t met in a while.
For those of you who have summer vacation, I hope you have a great one, and for those of you who don’t – take advantage of those weekend!
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See you in August!