The Jewish New Year is just around the corner and instead of thinking about what this year may have in store for me, for my family, for my friends and yes, the world, all I can think about is washing my car. Last week, for most of the week, Israel was plagued by a sandstorm that somewhere, early on, segued to serious air pollution. That first morning was marked by particularly yellow, murky skies resembling nothing familiar and looking quite a bit like what one might see settled at the bottom of a Petri dish. As I write, we're up to day five with a thankful improvement in sky tone, a soaring heat index with "real feel" temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius (bloody hot in Fahrenheit) and outrageous humidity.
The forecasters say the end is near; that this record-breaking murk is going to dispel within the next twenty four hours and leave us with the blue skies we've definitely come to take for granted in the Mediterranean Basin. We'll finally be able to hang the laundry outside, open the windows and even consider taking a walk. Asthmatics can put away their inhalers.
Just in time, or maybe better put, right on time. New years are all about beginnings, resolutions, renewal and of course, hopes. They're also about cleanliness and purity, hence the rush on household cleansing materials at the local supermarket. A little fresh air would be welcome.
Maybe enduring the last few day's suffocating, unpleasant atmosphere was God's way of reminding us to appreciate what we have, to never take for granted something that seems as everyday and run-of-the-mill (around these parts) as blue skies.
Then again, that seems a bit too simplistic. It can't be as easy as that. Good can't be separated from bad solely based on the weather--life would never offer itself to us in such a cut-and-dry matter. Furthermore, we all know that blue skies don't always bring all of the good we imagine. Who can forget that crystal clear blue that reigned supreme on the East Coast on September 11th, 2001?
Nevertheless, good weather goes a long way in cheering one's mood and I'm thrilled that this horrific weather pattern is going to shift. But as this New Year begins I'm painfully aware that the blue skies promised by the forecasters are not going to make it easier to handle the long list of affronts to my own life in Israel including a shaky (at best) deal with a country committed to the destruction of my own, the decision by a major American airlines to discontinue its service to Israel which smacks of BDS, a government that continually serves the needs of the radical minority instead of representing the democratic ideals on which this country was founded and to which I adhere, the recent boycott of products from the Golan Heights by the European Union under some unbelievable misconception that Palestinians have a claim to that particular piece of land (which they don't) and the long-standing general impression of Israel, my Israel, the one that has a hell of a time just standing in place on this tiny piece of real estate, as the aggressor by much of the free world.
Blue skies won't make any of these local difficulties easier to swallow on this New Year but they go a long way toward accentuating the beautiful. And so, having sliced the apples and poured the honey it only remains to gather my treasured loved ones around the table and sing, "I can see clearly now..."