On the 7th of Heshvan (October 23), observant Jews began praying for rain three
times a day (until Passover) in the ninth blessing of the Amida prayer: “Bless
this year and all its produce for the good of all of us, O Lord our God, and
grant dew and rain as a blessing on the face of the earth....”
years of drought, we have now been blessed with plentiful rains. The level of
the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) rose in December by 50 centimeters – the highest
monthly rise in nearly two decades. And the positive trend is
Between Monday and Tuesday the Kinneret registered another
22-centimeter rise, the highest one-day addition to the Kinneret since
measurements first began years ago.
The Kinneret is currently about 210
centimeters below sea level.
Record rainfalls have been recorded on the
Golan Heights, the Western Galilee, Meron, Haifa and even in centrally located
places like Tel Aviv and Kfar Saba. The rain is expected to continue through
Thursday and spread to the South.
Snow has begun falling on the Hermon
and is expected in additional locations at an altitude of about 700 meters or
higher, such as Jerusalem.
Hillel Glassman of the Israel Nature and Parks
Authority called the rainfall “a celebration of water in nature that we have not
enjoyed in years” and added that “the Kinneret is filling up at an insane
However, along with rain’s many blessings have come casualties and
damage caused by wet roads, flooding and felled trees.
Three men were
killed and another injured in a traffic accident on Tuesday when a motorist lost
control of his car on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Highway.
Police shut down
the Ayalon, Tel Aviv’s main highway, as it was overrun by the tremendous amount
of rainwater racing through the Ayalon riverbed, which runs along the
All lanes in both directions from the Glilot interchange to the
Kibbutz Galiyot exit, which covers the entire length of Israel’s commercial
capital, were closed for hours, causing insuperable delays and traffic jams that
effectively paralyzed the city. Train service was also discontinued, making
getting in and out of the city a near impossibility for commuters.
buses that operated were overloaded with passengers, leaving hundreds stranded.
Low-lying Tel Aviv neighborhoods such as Yedidya, Ezra and Argazim were
evacuated. In north Tel Aviv, the Yarkon River overflowed, endangering the Bavli
Tel Aviv was not the only area paralyzed by the
Highway 443, between Beit Horon and Jerusalem, was closed
intermittently; in Modi’in Illit, the overflowing Modi’in Stream overtook a
southern neighborhood, trapping resident in their homes; Route 90 near the Dead
Sea was shut down; roads in the Golan Heights were also closed.
every winter, we are reminded how dreadfully unprepared our infrastructure –
roads, public transportation, electric lines – truly is.
takes us by surprise time and time again. Declarations are made that next winter
will be different.
But nothing is done. It might be true that this year’s
rainfalls are extraordinary.
However, should Tel Aviv, our commercial
nerve center, be completely paralyzed as the result of over-average rainfalls?
Is it unavoidable that the most important transportation artery in the nation be
shut down for hours while tens of thousands of commuters wait in traffic jams
for hours? The CEO of the Ayalon highway, Arie Bar, admitted Tuesday that
drainage lines were simply too small to handle the tremendous amounts of
rainfall. The obvious solution would be to increase capacity by building larger
Is it economically feasible to invest millions of shekels
in such a project to prepare ourselves for a phenomenon that occurs once in 20
years? If lives are at risk, perhaps the answer should be a resounding
Certainly after witnessing fatalities on the road and Tel Aviv
paralyzed by the latest storms, a serious reevaluation of Israel’s preparedness
for inclement weather is in order.
Higher-than-average rainfalls should
be nothing but a blessing.