I grew up with the song:Rain, rain, go away,   Come again another day,
Little Johnny wants to play,
Rain, rain, go away!

Living in Israel has changed my perspective on rain.  But it is still a catchy tune, so I modified the words to sing to my children, on those rare days in winter when it does rain.

Rain, rain, come my way,
Come again another day,
For this rain we hope and pray,
Rain, rain, come my way!

Today, Hill, my 15-year old son, went outside to collect “snow”.  In actuality, it was only hail, and only lasted on my patio tables and chairs for maybe 5 minutes.  For my kids, this is excitement!  He collected it and put it in a cup in the freezer to save the memory for a few weeks. It NEVER snows here, never, something that I am happy about, having grown up in Minnesota and South Dakota, and seen enough snow to last a lifetime.And of course, when it rains here in Israel, there is one question which every Israeli asks.  How much has the Sea of Galilee gone up?  The level of the Sea of Galilee interests every single person.

How much are we over the “Black Line”?   The “Black Line” is 214.87 m below sea level.  If the level of the water goes lower than this, we can no longer pump any water from the Sea of Galilee.  This is a hard and fast number as the pump engineering is no longer functional below this level.  The “Black Line” was reached most recently in December 2008.Have we hit the “Lower Red Line” at 213.18 m below sea level?  The “Lower Red Line” was established as the lowest level the lake should be in order to maintain the ecosystem around the lake.  Due to the prolonged drought, water management pumped even after the level sunk below this line in order to provide a consistent water supply to Israel’s population.
Sea of Galilee level
Sea of Galilee level

The “Upper Red Line” has been out of reach for ages.  If the “Upper Red Line” at 208.9 m below sea level is exceeded by the waters of the Sea of Galilee, then the dam at Deganya must be opened in order to prevent flooding along the shore line.  The last time the dam was opened was in 1993.  Even if next winter is as wet as this one has been, we will not reach the “Upper Red Line”.
Today, the level of the Sea of Galilee stands at 212.39 having risen 7 cm so far from this storm. Why is rain such a big deal here?Before the Children of Israel come into the Land of Israel, G-d give them a bit of a preview on what the land is like.  Kind of like a tour guide describing the sites included in the tour. Deuteronomy 11:11-12
“The land you are about to cross into, a land of hills and valleys, soaks up its water from the rains of heaven.  It is a land which the Lord your G-d looks after, on which the Lord your G-d always keeps His eye, from year’s beginning to year’s end.” (This is in contrast to Egypt, where the labor of man waters the fields through maintenance of irrigation channels, fed by the predictable rising and falling of the Nile River waters.)

The Hebrew word for “heaven” is shamayim – a compound form of “sham mayim” meaning water is there.  In Israel, we are connected with water in a spiritual sense.  If we want abundance, we need to develop a relationship with G-d who controls our source of water – the skies.  The almost obsession over the level of the Sea of Galilee is a direct outgrowth of our reliance on the heavens to provide us with sustenance and is felt through every segment of society.  It is refreshing in today’s world, that a whole modern, cosmopolitan, high-tech society still looks to nature to indicate whether they can breathe easy this year.  This is the full sense of blessed rain.


  1. Leiah, whenever it rains in Israel, I sing the “April Showers” song, knowing that we usually don’t get rain in April, and thinking that the song applies to rain in Israel at any time.
    Thank you so much for that informative post and may we have many winters full of rain.

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