Illustration: El Al In Flight Over Tel Aviv (Image credit: N. Sher)
For a couple of days, we might be tempted to think that we can put away our winter clothes, at least until the real cold of winter arrives. However, the chill and showers of late Friday into Sunday will probably change the minds of at least a few, and the even deeper chill and heavier of mid-late week into the following week may just end all hopes of spring.
One might have the impression that this year is rainier compared to last year (at least in the Jerusalem area). Considering that this year is supposed to be rainier than last year then one could be excused for thinking so. However, when it comes to the weather, our memories are usually faulty (which is good for the weatherman who sometimes just wishes that folks would forget yesterday's forecast). In fact, last year was also rainy until now, but then we had a three week period in December when there was no rain. Moreover, there were no especially rainy (and cold) storms last winter. It seemed, instead, like just one rainy shower after another.
There are lots of things to write about besides the weather. But one item struck me in particular: the news about the El Al flight that landed in Athens in order for a number of passengers to keep Shabbat. Passengers accused the pilot/crew of "kidnap” and being misled about whether the plane would return to the gate in New York to let off passengers who did not want to fly on Shabbat. Yet, one shouldn't forget that passengers voluntarily booked this "last" flight before Shabbat, and should have known that it could be delayed due to weather (and snow it did). Moreover, where do passengers get the idea that they can deplane after being seating or even after the plane has left the gate? The whole situation is almost like a scene from Chelm and almost seems too surreal to be real. I find it amazing that El Al actually diverted to Athens, Greece (making an extra stop — and putting the passengers at risk — and inconveniencing those who do fly on Shabbat). [Note that El Al’s policy does not allow it to “fly passengers on the Jewish Shabbat or religious holidays.” - Ed.]
Moreover, El Al arranged hotel rooms and full Shabbat meals through the local Athens Chabad — leading some to say it was one of the most amazing Shabbats they ever had. Perhaps it's just business, or perhaps it's something more, but... All I can say is: "Only in Israel."
Image credit: The Jerusalem Herald
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.