Israel’s chief rabbis called on the public to say special prayers due to the lack of rain.
Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau also called for a mass prayer at the Western Wall on Thursday. The rabbis ruled that the unusually dry winter in Israel matches the definition under Jewish law of a drought.
They called on the public to add prayers for rain to the regular prayers and to recite specific psalms. The prayers and psalms were distributed to rabbis throughout the country.
In parts of Israel, the winter has been the driest in 55 to 70 years, according to the Israel Meteorological Service. Some weather stations throughout the country have recorded no precipitation at all; others have reported levels well below average.
“Compared to the past, it must be emphasized that the variance of rain in November is quite great, and there are quite a few years where there is very little rain [in November],” the Meteorological Service said, according to Walla. “However, the almost complete lack of rainfall in the month, as happened at some of the stations, is uncommon.”
Most measurement stations around the country recorded less than 10 millimeters (2.54 inch) of rainfall for the month, compared to averages of 80 to 110 millimeters in the northern mountains, 70 to 85 millimeters on the coast and 50 to 60 millimeters in the hilly center of the country and the valleys in the north.
Many of the stations recorded less than two millimeters, and some recorded no precipitation at all. And while some areas recorded good amounts of rainfall, in most cases it came all at once in one or two days at the beginning of the month.
The lack of rain was most pronounced in the north, where levels like those of this year have only been recorded three times in the past: in 1946, 1962 and 2010.
In October and November combined, levels in most of the country are at about one-third of the multi-year average and in some parts less than 10 percent.
For instance, in Kibbutz Kfar Giladi in the north, levels are at their lowest since 1943, when rainfall reached only 6% of the average; and in Kibbutz Kfar Blum it has been the driest year since 1949.
Along with the dry weather came warmer temperatures, as most days of November recorded a higher temperature than average, and the lowland coastal plain in particular experienced the hottest November in 60 years.
However, on a more positive note, despite the shortage of rain, as of December 1 the waters of the Sea of Galilee are a whole meter higher than they were on the same date in 2012. This can be attributed in part to the relatively high precipitation last winter compared to the year before.