Israeli President Shimon Peres opened the new school year at a special ceremony in the president's house in Jerusalem on August 26.
Visiting pupils on their first day of school, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted his government's decision last year to provide free education for 3- and 4-year-olds.
The record number of children attending school has necessitated a growing educational infrastructure: there are now 62,955 classrooms in Israel and 141,085 teachers, administrators and other staff.
Students in Sderot started the school year safe from attack in a new rocket-proof school building. The $27.5 million structure features concrete walls, reinforced windows and a unique architectural plan all designed to absorb rocket fire.
Among the 145,374 first-graders was Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents were murdered in the 2008 terrorist attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai, India.
Thousands of children of migrant workers also began the school year, including these first-grade Filipino students at Paula Ben Gurion School in Jerusalem.