Rain, Rain, Welcome Back
As everyone here knows but doesn’t like to admitparticularly when we want to wash our cars or water our lawnsIsrael suffers from a perennial water shortage. That’s one of the reasons why rain is such a big deal here. On the day of the first rainfall, Israel Radio broadcasts popular songs that mention rain one after another, for hours on end. Throughout the winter there are continuous reports on the amount of rainfall and the level of the Sea of Galilee, and all year round the radio carries public-service messages about the urgent need to conserve water. Rain is also considered a sign of Divine blessing (and the lack of it the opposite), and in a tradition that goes back to Mishnaic times the rabbis declare a day of fasting and prayer if rainfall is scarce.
I didn’t know any of this years ago, thoughfor example, a few years out of college, when I was corresponding with an Israeli pen pal who was about my age. During the winter he began every letter with one of the following sentences: “It rained today” or “It didn’t rain today.” Back then, living as I was in upstate New York, where water is hardly an issue and rain is abundant all year round (and perhaps also because my visits to Israel up to that point had all been in the winter), I couldn’t understand why my friend began all his letters with a precipitation report. But once I moved here it became clear enough. One Israeli summer with its relentless heat and sun beating down from skies that hardly see a single cloud from May until October was all the lesson I needed.
Today was the first real rain of the season. There was a dress rehearsal last night, complete with thunder and lightning, but not much rainfall. But as they say in the theater business, a bad dress rehearsal usually means a good performance, and this morning’s show more than made up for the disappointing run last night. At work we noticed the sky getting darker and darker, and finally, wonderful to relatea real, live, honest-to-goodness downpour.
Israeli weather changes quickly, though. The sun came out and competed with the clouds for a while, and on my way home from work I got caught in a sunshower. But when the heavy cloud-cover and downpour came back for an encore a few hours later, I was safe at home, watching the cascading sheets of rain from the comfort of my living room.
Welcome back, rain. You were missed.