Rain in Zfat

Today we were in Zfat. It is the highest city in Israel (2608 feet above sea level), nestled in the Upper Galilee mountains, peering down on the Sea of Galilee, and lying about 15 km south of the Lebanese border.

Almost all of Tzfat is built in a circular fashion on a hilltop. The old part of town consists of narrow twisted streets revealing artists’ galleries, medieval synagogues, private homes and small guest houses. I saw an Artists Colony, where a lot of painters, sculptors, pencil artists live and work. There were a lot of architectural monuments, picture galleries and the Printing Press Museum. But wherever we went, it was either uphill or downhill.

On the end of the festival of Sukkot, Israelis begin mentioning in their daily prayers that G-d is the One who “makes the wind blow and the rain descend.” – These prayers must have been heard, because today it was even thundering and rain fell. We got wet sitting on a covered bench, waiting for the bus.

Israel relies very much upon winter rain in the mountains in the north, as there is little rain elsewhere in the country. The scattered thunderstorms in the north are the first heavy rains of the season and have not come too soon for the dry country, which has suffered four straight years of below-average precipitation. The extended drought has left the country’s water resources seriously depleted.

Most of the Galilee consists of rocky terrain, at heights of between 500 and 700 meters. The rain that falls in the mountains by Zfat, runs downhill toward Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee.) The Kinneret has dropped a whopping 5.41 meters (18 feet) and is 1.24 meters under the “red line,” which serves as warning that lower levels will endanger the quality of water and the ability to continue pumping. Because of this the underground aquifer system is in danger of salinization.

Long-term forecasts for the winter are mixed. European models indicate that Israel will suffer a lack of rain for a fifth year, but American weather models suggest a wetter-than-usual winter. – That tells me that scientists today have no clue what the weather is going to do.

We live in interesting times. Soon we have an American election, and now we will also have an election in Israel.

From Israel with love – Lilo


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