It starts to rain in Israel, if we are lucky, some time in late October or November. If we are less blessed, it will start in December. January sees rainfall, as does February. By March, we know we’re near the end and by April it’s over. May, June, July, August, September (and usually October) – no rain – often not a single time, once in a while there’ll be a short rain – sometimes not even that.
The winter in Israel is spent watching the level of the Sea of Galilee – as it rises, we know we’ll have water for the coming dry months. Early in the winter, meteorologists will predict a wet winter, a dry one, a warm one, a cold one. Sometimes, you don’t even hear their prediction. This has been a good year – so far…though much is still needed to take us out of the perpetual drought we have been in for over a decade. In all of the years I have been in Israel, not once has the level of the Sea of Galilee reached over capacity. There are provisions for this happening – huge flood gates that can be opened, sending water down through the Jordan Valley and into the dying Dead Sea.
Last year was adequate – this year, we still wait to hear. The winter is probably about half-over but we think in terms of days. In the last few days, the Sea of Galilee has risen an amazing 22 centimeters – I don’t know if you can imagine what that means. Yesterday it rained; today it is raining. Tomorrow and the next day, they are predicting more rain and even snow in some areas.
People are complaining about floods and traffic and the cold and through it all, there is this amazing joy. People will say, “it’s miserable out there, thank God.” Each drop is a blessing, a gift. In Israel, from a young age, we teach our children two things about water – don’t waste it, and always carry it with you. My children go with bottles of water – the heat in the summer can be very dangerous and they need to carry water with them. They shut the water when they soap themselves up in the shower; they shut the water when they are brushing their teeth. You don’t waste water in Israel. If you peel potatoes into a pot of water so they don’t turn colors – you walk outside and pour the pot of water into the garden.
As we drove into Jerusalem today, the water was flowing over the hills, pouring down the rocks, forming a river on the side of the road. Lauren tried to get a picture but the camera focused on the drops on the window instead. “Open the window,” said Davidi.
Both my daughter-in-law Lauren and I thought that was a bad idea – she’d be soaked, as would the car! But a neighbor managed to capture the power of the water. This is today’s blessing from God to a land that He loves, and a land that loves Him.Paula R. Stern