Elkan’s View From Netanya


One of the things that really moves me is the way that Jewish communities in the Diaspora, at Pesach and Sukkot, pray for the needs of agriculture in the Holy Land.

Water in Israel is a constant preoccupation. For at least half the year there is no rain of any significance, there is rarely sufficient snow in the winter to swell the streams in the spring, and the rivers are few and far between. Water remains a concern, although Israel now produces almost half its water by desalination and is a world leader in the use of “grey water” recycled but not suitable for drinking or cooking purposes.

Praying for rain remains part of the liturgy but sometimes our prayers are answered too literally. Last Sunday week began quite bright in Netanya but about 9:30 AM the sky suddenly went as dark as night. I went to the front of my flat, which overlooks the Mediterranean, and closed all the windows. A few minutes later the whole building was enveloped in a rain and hail storm of tropical intensity, the windows were simply no defence at all, and my flat was severely flooded. This is not bad for the sixth floor.

We got off lightly. There were no significant electrical cuts in Netanya but Ra’anana, north-east of Tel Aviv, was completely without electricity from Sunday morning until late on Monday, and even beyond. Even mobile phones stopped working, a calamity of world shattering importance in Israeli society!

One of my friends saw his garden furniture take to the air and fly away, he knows not where. That was from a balcony on the ninth floor of Sea Opera, and there are undoubtedly worse stories that could be told. The press has been full of complaints that Israel is not prepared for such tropical storms which are beginning to happen more frequently. Certainly the electrical supply needs to be secure, and some surplus water should be stored.

But the greatest miracle of all is that nobody appears to have been hurt anywhere in the country!