Desert life in Israel

Tuvia Brodie,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Tuvia Brodie
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is He usually publishes 3-4 times a week on his blog and 1-3 times at Arutz Sheva. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.

I live in the Judean desert. It gets hot in the summer. But 'hot' here isn't the same as hot was in the 'old country' (USA).

In that old place, you sweat when it gets hot (because of humidity). For example, where I lived, in the 'Rust Belt', 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 celsius) seemed often unbearable without air conditioning. If at night, outdoor temperatures dropped only to, say, 83 degrees Fahrenheit (28 celsius), you suffered indoors without air conditioning because your indoor temperature wouldn't get down below 88 (31).

Try sleeping in that with no air conditioning.

In our Jewish desert, however, life is different. Israel in the desert is a better place. Here, humidity is low. Plus, in the so-called 'settlement' in which I live, the walls of our homes are 14 inches (35 centimeters) thick, windows are inset from the outside wall by perhaps 8 inches (20 cm) and we all here use 'trissim'--exterior plastic window shutters that we typically close against the sun. Therefore, between the effect of those thick stone/concrete walls and these window shutters, a 95-98 (Fahrenheit)(35-37) degree outdoor temperature might mean an indoor temp of perhaps 83-84 (28) degrees. Air conditioning then would of course drop that temperature.

When we first came here, we ran the a/c all the time in the summer. Then, as we got accustomed to the heat, we realized we didn't need to do that. Now, we find an indoor temp of 82-83 (27-28) degrees to be slightly warm-but-very-comfortable. 72 degrees (22) feels cold.

This summer, our outdoor Fahrenheit thermometer has only registered 100+ (38) degrees a few times. Last year, we seemed to have had long stretches of 100+ (38) temperatures, with perhaps a dozen days (or more) with temps over 110 (43). I recall readings of 120 degrees (48)--on a thermometer that had a stop tab at 120 (48). I can't tell you how far above 120 (48) the temperature on those days actually got. But at that temperature, you know it's hot. 

For us here, summertime isn't just a time for heat. For reasons I still don't understand, it's also a time for lost pets.

In a moment, I'll show you an announcement on a local internet 'community board'. But first, I do want you to understand that our 'settlement' is an urban community. It's no 'settlement', with dirt roads, intermittent electricity and poor water. This city has one of Israel's largest indoor malls (outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem), and it's 'modern' in the fullest sense of the word.

For example, all of our infrastructure--water, electricity, telephone, gas lines (in most neighborhoods), and cable TV lines are all underground. Our city is known for its physical beauty. 

Here are some pictures that show you what our city looks like--and what our desert environment looks like (disclosure: I no longer live in the neighborhood you're about to  see. I now live in the same city, but in a different neighborhood):

                     This is the street I have walked home on from shopping.

    This is a residential street. I have lived here, some 800 metres behind the picture-taker (me).

                                Our indoor mall, mid-afternoon

        This is a view of the desert from my first home's roof-top porch: the desert at dusk

 A view as I walked home from shopping to my old neighborhood. The desert sand is almost white in the August sun.

To me, our city is delightfully beautiful. I hope you agree. The desert around us is even more beautiful. I never get tired of looking at it.

Now, about our animal problem. Have you ever seen an announcement like this?


                                  FOUND: Large live white chicken in our yard

                                                       July 26, 2016

When you visit our city, you probably won't see any chickens at all. Here. as I have discovered, some families do have chickens for--as near as I can figure--outdoor pets, for 'show' purposes (competition), or, so I've been told, in place of a dog, to create an alarm when someone enters your property (remember, chickens don't have to be walked three times a day). 

I've never seen a lost chicken. True, I once heard what sounded like a lost chicken (don't ask). But I've never seen such a creature.

Here's the rest of the announcement:

                                               Found: Large live white chicken in our yard. 

                                               Rescued earlier in the day from cat attack.

                                               Will the owner please call.....

Hmmm, can you picture this scene unfolding? One chicken, a cat and what--feathers flying, hysterical chicken sounds and lots of running, probably in a circle?

How does one actually rescue an hysterical chicken from a cat attack? Do you crouch down low, arms extended outward and run as fast as you can (in that crouch) after the object of your affection? Is that how that works?

Listen, this is Israel. We are civilized here. We don't have chickens running through the streets (except, apparently, when caught in a cat attack). We're a proud city. We have air conditioned apartments. We have dog parks. We have manicured streets. Our city is one of the most modern in all Israel. Our streets are so clean you can....

Say...., you haven't lost a chicken, have you?