From a purely nonscientific, anecdotal and personal viewpoint, I think that this past June has been unusually hot, weather-wise. Of course, I really don't remember how hot the past Junes have been but it is only a natural tendency to think that past times were always more pleasant than the current ones.
I imagine that the official Israeli meteorological bureau will soon inform us as to the true relative state of our current weather as compared to past times. But all of this, be it as it may be, does not in any way change the fact that the weather outside is quite warm. Our temperatures are well into the middle and even high 30s centigrade.
The summer sun in Israel is exceedingly strong and bright from now to October and there is almost no cloud cover to speak of. I was out today walking a considerable distance in the midday sun and heat and I kept on thinking to myself that somehow this was not the smart thing to do. As in all hot climates, in today's much more comfortable world, air-conditioning is the solution and salvation in such heat.
Air-conditioning used to be an expensive luxury in Israel. But today it is almost universally utilized even though the rates of the electric company are still quite high, if not even exorbitant. But once when one accustoms one's self to residing in air-conditioned splendor, there is no return. And that certainly is the case for most of us here living in Israel.
Jerusalem usually cools off at night so that air-conditioning is not always necessary. The Talmud notes that there was a late afternoon breeze and wind that swept the confines of the Temple Mount and the streets of Jerusalem. That late afternoon wind still recurs but in very hot weather the wind itself is quite warm.
There also exists the possibility of an east wind off the desert that brings with it not only heat but some of the sand of the desert as well. On the whole, though, Jerusalem and Israel generally are blessed with a fairly healthy and stable climate. The summers are hot and sunny while the winters are more moderate. There are only a few very cool spells and mostly sufficient rainfall to keep everything green for the rest of the year.
This very Mediterranean climate is one of the many blessings of the Holy Land described for us in the Torah itself. Water is the most precious commodity here in the Middle East, even outranking oil in importance. For many decades Israel was completely dependent on rainfall and snow melt through its reservoirs and national carrier system. However, Israeli technology has mastered the use of recycled water – currently exclusively used for agricultural needs – and also of desalination.
There is a lot of water in the Mediterranean Sea just off of our west coast. But all of that water is salty and unfit for human consumption. However through the wonders of the desalinization process, the Mediterranean Sea has become Israel's great water reservoir.
There are warnings every day on the radio that older folks should stay out of the heat. But I notice that most of the people who are walking are older people while the young ones are comfortably ensconced in their air-conditioned automobiles. There are simply duties and errands that cannot be postponed and must be accomplished. And the heat of the day does not really excuse their necessary accomplishment.
The times of prayer in the many synagogues of our country are almost always quite early in the morning and late in the evening. As such, the truly intense heat of the day can, in the main, be avoided. But synagogue attendees are usually a very hardy lot and the hot weather is not usually a deterrent to attendance. Even during the rare and potentially dangerous snowfalls that we Jerusalemites experience in our winters, the quorum for prayer in the synagogue has always been maintained. Simply because it is hot ( or cold )outside, it certainly is not going to affect our devotion and service to God.
But in spite of all these noble thoughts and words, walking to the synagogue when it is quite warm outside is difficult, as it is more of an annoyance than a deterrent. I comfort myself by the fact that I am still able to do so. Nevertheless I hope the rest of the summer will offer more moderate temperatures and cooling breezes. It is much easier to be pleasant when the weather cooperates.