Purim in Israel

Purim got off to a cheerful start today with Galei Zahal, the army radio network, announcing a “major new Israeli breakthrough: cloud-seeding that will extend the winter until July.”

The item, carefully prepared, was broadcast on the network’s morning newsreel and must have had at least some listeners agog with amazement. Labor Alignment MK Yossi Sarid, Likud MK Ehud Olmert and Agudat Israel MK Shlomo Lorincz were interviewed about the new discovery. Sarid — predictably — accused the government of making political capital from a scientific success; Olmert — predictably — attributed the success to the government; and Lorincz — predictably — expressed skepticism of the discovery and insisted that only God makes rain.

The report claimed that the past week’s wet weather — the first heavy rain for nearly two months — was the result of the new cloud-seeding technique and now the Cabinet would decide if the winter would continue until July — or, as the farmers were demanding, until September.

Rain last night seemed to dampen Purim spirits a little in Tel Aviv but the weather was brighter today and the streets were crowded with children in fancy-dress. On the promenade, clowns entertained passersby in a show sponsored by several of the hotels.

In Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated tonight and tomorrow — since it is an ancient walled city which, by halacha, observes Shushan Purim instead of regular Purim. Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has ruled, however, that the new outlying suburb of Ramot north of the capital must keep the regular Purim, it being relatively far from the walled Old City.

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