Many of you may not be aware that yesterday was National Planting Day.
Not to be confused with Tu B’Shvat (which this year fell out on Shabbat - as it does 30% of the time), or even Friday Erev Tu B’Shvat, (which was the day when most schools and gans celebrated Tu B’Shvat), or even the Thursday before Tu B’Shvat (which was the day when many companies served dried fruit to their employees), National Planting Day is the day when all the national-religious youth groups hold their annual neti’ot (literally, plantings).
In practice, this means that although elementary schools officially remain open, few of their students show up. For instance, I’m told that in one class, three quarters of the boys were absent.
Moreover, the student bodies of most yeshiva high schools and ulpanot include so many madrichim and madrichot that the schools don’t even try and fight it. Instead, they just declare it as a vacation day and give everyone – including those who aren’t in hadrachah – the day off.
Yet, none of this explains why National Planting Day was specifically held yesterday (i.e. three days after Tu B’Shvat).
And so, I decided to turn to the experts to find out.
Here’s what a certain madrichah had to say:
“The neti’ot were supposed to be last Thursday, but because of the bagrut in math, which was on Thursday, they had to push the neti’ot off.
“And Friday, it couldn’t be, because neti’ot are the whole day, and of course, it can’t be on Shabbat.
“And so I guess that out of the next few days, Tuesday was the best day for them - probably because most people finish [school] earlier that day.”
In other words, National Planting Day is like the Israeli equivalent of Presidents’ Day.
And in related news, Israeli schoolchildren are currently lobbying the Education Ministry to declare other
fake celebrated holidays. Here are some of the possibilities under consideration:
- National Shofar Blowing Day - celebrated three days after Rosh Hashanah
- National Eating in the Succah Day - celebrated three days after Succot
- National Megillah Reading Day - celebrated three days after Purim
As my kids would say, staaaaam…