The Planting Festival in the Jordan Valley
This has been the practice in recent years: The teachers in the lower Galilee villages gather their students on the fifteenth of Shevat and arrive to Degania to plant trees there. Why particularly to Degania? Because the territory of Degania is the territory of the people, a property of the Jewish National Fund. Before sunrise, the children's journey begins. They come on foot, on horseback, on wagons, with musicians playing melodies leading the procession.
Eight hundred children came this time. Over the entire square adjacent to the Jordan River, four hundred seedlings were prepared for planting. Two children were assigned to each sapling. Two children - and a sapling, two children - and a sapling. The day is clear. One of those bright, noble days in the Jordan Valley. The children's white clothes and the rays of the winter sun contribute to the atmosphere and the charm of the festival is felt all over. The Degania inhabitants are very busy, eager to welcome the young guests as befit them. Eight hundred children stand across four hundred seedlings - waiting, and then the signal is given. The musicians play their instruments, and the children immediately bow their heads at once lowering the seedlings into the pre-prepared holes. Everyone is engrossed in work.
It is an amazing sight - the square strewn with trees and children. Man - and trees, trees - and children. Both shall be rooted in the land and shall flourish and grow. A covenant was made between our children, the land and the tree upon it. And the tree shall rise and the child shall grow.
And years will pass. And when a man comes, years later, to explore the surroundings and he shall feel a love for this place and for the tree that he had planted.
And my ears caught the children's words: When I come next year, I will go directly and see if my tree has grown ....