Until making aliyah, I hadn’t appreciated what living in a country with a “dry season” really entails. When I was a student in Israel for a few months way back when, I was a visitor, and for me the dry season was just a large number of consecutive days without rain. Only after a few years as a citizen here did I realize that the dry season is experienced as a season and not as a series of rain-less days. Forthwith, some highlights of life in the dry season:
Beach Days: A classic “beach day” for me growing up in Brooklyn was, according to my mother, a cloudless blue-skied summer day, a day when there was little or no chance of rain. While one did not have to go to the beach on a beach day, it was considered a crime against humanity to stay indoors on such a day. Because of the total absence of rain here during the dry season, every day is technically a beach day, though some are better than others (a sharav heat wave and/or jellyfish can certainly dampen your fun at the beach).
Outdoor Weddings: A phenomenon of the dry season is outdoor-only wedding venues. These places are only open during the dry season, and other than restroom facilities, they have no indoor spaces. It’s a pleasant and fun experience to attend an outdoor wedding. The low cost of the infrastructure theoretically makes it more reasonable to hold an affair at one of these places, though one’s menu choices will typically be the most important factor in your per-person cost.
Dry vs. Hot: If you are in Jerusalem or at another high-elevation place in Israel, such as the Golan Heights, it is a mistake to think that just because it won’t rain then it will be hot. I can still remember a visit here a few years before we made aliyah. It was June and I was at the Kotel in shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals. The sun was shining, but the wind was blowing, and I realized to my shock that I was freezing.
Watering: If you have a garden (lawns are rare), the good news is that a surprise thunder storm will never make you feel ridiculous for just having watered your garden; the bad news is that if you don’t want your plants to die, you will have to water at least twice a week June-September no matter what.
Clothes Drying: Growing up in America, not only did I never live in a household that hung clothes, but I never lived in a neighborhood in which I saw clothes hanging on a line. When we moved to Israel, we moved into a house that had a clothes line, all of our neighbors hung their clothes out to dry, and so I figured that clothes hanging was part of my patriotic duty. Unlike with watering (to which my kids could say, “you want plants Dad, you water them”), my children could not get out of hanging up their clothes on the line. Though they did try to tell me “why do you think we have a dryer, Dad,” my children accepted the fact that they needed to walk around in clean clothes, especially when I insisted: “they are your clothes and you have to hang them up.” In an effort to protest against forced labor, my children would sometimes just cram their clothes onto the line all bunched up. Yet during the long summer months even this sloppy way works, since the Middle East sun essentially bakes the clothes dry within an hour or two.
Enjoy your summer, dry or not.
TEDDY WEINBERGER is director of development for a consulting company called Meaningful. He made aliyah with his family in 1997 from Miami, where he was an assistant professor of religious studies. Teddy and his wife, Sarah Jane Ross, have five children.