When lightning strikes


The Intermountain Jewish News reports that after breaking the fast of Yom Kippur on Sept. 26, Hebrew Educational Alliance congregant A.J. Hibshman was struck by lightning while entering his vehicle.

Hibshman suffered severe burns and as of this post remained in critical condition.

The improbability of this event was underscored by the fact that the rabbi had referenced a joke about lightning in his Yom Kippur sermon not 24-hours earlier. One Denver meteorologist estimated three to six deaths per year resulting from lightning strikes.

Below is a list of lightning strike stories reported by JTA:


    Philadelphia, Jul. 25, 1926 — Three congregants rescue Torah scrolls from B’nai Abraham Synagogue, a historic landmark in Philadelphia, which caught fire after a lightning strike. Despite the rain that night, the synagogue is destroyed by the blaze.

    Slonim, Poland (Jul. 30, 1928) — Son of local yeshiva head killed by lightning during storm

    Bialystock, Poland (Jul. 26, 1929) — Main synagogue catches fire when lightning strikes. "Several scores" of Jewish homes damaged in nearby Kniszyn.

    Budapest (Jun. 7, 1946) — Police authorities investigating fire at a synagogue in Mako suggest that lightning may be to blame after no suspects are found.

    Hadera, Israel (Jan. 21, 1985) — Israel Electric Company imposes temporary blackouts after high tension line hit by lightning in Hadera.

    Gaza Strip (Oct. 18, 1987) — Two Arab farmers die after being struck by lightning while picking peppers during the first storm of the season.

    Tel Aviv (May 25, 1996) — El Al flight to New Delhi and Bangkok lands safely after being hit by lightning shortly after takeoff. No injuries were reported.

    Washington, D.C. (1998) — 25-year-old Lysa Selfon is struck by lightning during a Free Tibet concert at Robert F. Kennedy stadium. The former legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism survives the incident after being resuscitated through CPR, even making an appearance on MTV.

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