JERUSALEM (RNS) Experiencing the warmest, driest November on record, residents of the Holy Land are calling on a higher power to bring rain to this parched region.
While winter traditionally arrives late here, the almost total lack of rainfall is threatening crops and the underground aquifers that provide fresh water. If the drought continues, it could intensify tensions between Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Palestinian territories, which share scarce water resources.

Earlier this month (Nov.) on the Israeli-Palestinian border, priests, rabbis and imams prayed together for an end to the drought that has gripped this corner of the Middle East for the past seven years. Another interfaith prayer for rain took place this week in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, the highest Jewish religious body in Israel, deemed Thursday (Nov. 18) a special day of prayer and fasting for rain.

In a joint letter, Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar said “the land is dry due to our many sins, and this is a troubling thing.”

“It is our duty to look at our actions and come close to God with all our hearts, and set forth our pleas with a broken and despondent heart,” the rabbis said.

On Thursday, worshippers at the Western Wall and in synagogues across Israel prayed that “the father of the sky” will “gush out” his blessings with “grace, benevolence and mercy.”

Dana Lavi Dekel, a former New Yorker who now lives in Israel, said she decided to fast “because it can’t hurt to pray and fast, and it might help. Please God, let’s hope the situation changes.”

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