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Driest November Since '62 Unites Secular & Religious in Prayer

The sore lack of rain this winter has united the religious and secular publics in public prayers for water.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 11/29/2010, 2:08 PM / Last Update: 11/29/2010, 2:05 PM

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The sore lack of rain this winter has united the religious and secular populaces in public prayers for water.

Public prayer services for rain have been called throughout the country in recent weeks, with increasingly growing participation. For instance, in the traditionally anti-religious kibbutz Givat Brenner near Rehovot, dozens of secular farmers took part in prayers and shofar-sounding for rain last week.

The Givat Brenner event was organized by Ayelet HaShachar (Morning Star), an organization dedicated to giving a taste of religious Judaism to non-religious kibbutzim and moshavim around the country. The organization also sponsored similar prayers in Kibbutz Ein Harod last Wednesday, followed the next day by prayers on a boat in the middle of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee).

The Kinneret is currently 214.07 meters below sea level – 107 centimeters lower than the forbidden “red line,” and only 80 centimeters above the even more forbidden “black line.” It has lost 20 centimeters in height over the past month, which has been the driest in Israel in the past 48 years. This marks the seventh consecutive year of near-drought conditions.

Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar have called a day of fasting and prayers, the second time this month. A massive prayer service is called for 3:30 PM today at the Western Wall, and individual synagogues will hold their own special prayer services.

Prayers have been held in schools around the country as well. In Ramat Gan today, for instance, Rabbis Shmuel Artziel and Yisrael Amitai led over 100 students, teachers and even parents in special prayers in the yard of the Moreshet Moshe school. It was also announced that special rain prayers were to be held in the 85 schools of the Amit network around the country.

Barring Divine intervention, no rain is expected for at least the coming week, and possibly even two.  A winter system is said to be making its way slowly over from Europe, where it is manifest in record low temperatures and snow, but it will apparently take two weeks to arrive.