JERUSALEM, Israel – Heavy rains didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits on Saturday, the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
On the contrary, after five consecutive winters of below average rainfall, Israelis rejoiced as the skies opened up again on Sunday.
And these plentiful rains came nearly two months earlier than usual.
The rainy season in Israel normally begins sometime in November and generally ends by late March.
“God just cleaned the land,” one Israeli told CBN News. “It’s a good sign that it’s going to be a really good year,” she said.
“It’s a new beginning, an end of the dryness, personally and nationally. It will be a fertile and a good year,” she predicted.
Lots of families – an estimated 350,000 people – headed outdoors to nature reserves and national parks over the holiday weekend.
Hikers trekked along with their heavy backpacks, mountain bikers, decked out in colorful jerseys, shorts and helmets, could be seen peddling along the roads.
Many got soaked to the skin as intermittent showers sent people scurrying for cover, while some, especially children, played in the rain and jumped in the newly formed puddles.
Israel’s National Water Authority, Mekerot, said the weekend downpours set a new record for September, with up to an inch and a half falling in the north and nearly three inches in the Golan Heights.
Almost half an inch fell directly on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the coast.
Meteorologists, who have predicted a 25 percent rise in rainfall this year, attributed the early downpour to a cold front that blew in from Turkey.
While that may be true, many Israelis believe the earlier than normal winter rains are an answer to the nation’s prayers.
And the fact that it fell on the very first day of the Jewish New Year was enough to encourage many to press on in prayer for abundant winter rains that will fill the Kinneret, replenish the coastal aquifers and cause the desert to bloom.