By Larry Gordon
This winter weather just won’t let up. Purim is next week; does that mean we are going to have to look for thermal costumes and masks with earmuffs? We have been at the mercy of the Canadian lows and offshore highs to the point that we know nothing other than what it means to freeze.
Yes, we were in Florida just over two weeks ago, and every day was both exceptional and warm. But without consulting my credit-card bill, it is difficult to recall any part of those midwinter summer days. Where did those warm days go and why can’t I summon any bit of them back, especially when the thermometer read just 1°F outside last Friday morning?
Most days in Florida are warm and sunny, but there is something suspicious about all that good weather. Just think of all those people down South and in other tropical climates who will never know what it means to go outside early in the morning to start their car and see the outdoor temperature reading on the dashboard of zero degrees. What deprivation of a unique, special, and frigid experience.
Okay, granted it is not the most pleasant weather to experience, but would you want to give that up permanently? Up here in New York, we live in a unique meteorological environment inasmuch as we have four discernible seasons that we can experience from head to toe.
In south Florida, I understand, when the forecast says that it will be 50 degrees in the morning, some schools and yeshivas suggest to parents that they send their children to school with a light sweater or jacket. It’s a different lifestyle and experience than anything up here in the Northeast.
Of course, it is cold every winter. It seems, however, that this year we are breaking new ground in the prolonged consistency and the determination of the cold to maintain its grasp on our region. But now the race is on as we are about to turn the corner on February for the arrival of March and Purim, which should herald something resembling springtime weather.
Many of us fondly recall snow on Pesach of more than a few years ago and some of us can also recall temperatures in the 90s over Pesach. So it seems that when the matter of the weather is the topic, rule number one is that there are just no rules.
One of the good things about all this superfreezing weather is how much we are able to appreciate how almost balmy it is outdoors when the temperature goes into the 30s or 40s for a few hours during any given day.
That is precisely how it was last Sunday. The sun was trying to break through the clouds, the snow was melting, and the ice that seems to have been around for the longest time was turning into annoying puddles that we had to navigate our way through when trying to cross the streets. It was like a sneak peek into what we hope is in store for us going forward. Frankly, I’m concerned about Purim, the cold weather, and the possibility of snow on the chag. There seems to be a measure of incongruity, with snow shovels and the celebration of Purim being somewhat at odds with one another.
But on the other hand, I am eternally optimistic that this frozen pattern can be turned around by the Controller of weather patterns, certainly overnight if not in an instant. So even though things around here do not happen that quickly or drastically, I am still hopeful that somehow we can kick our air temperature into the 60s or perhaps up to 70 degrees by the time Purim arrives here next week. If nothing else, that would be nice.
But let’s be realistic. The weather plays a vital role in everything we do, and that is particularly true of the observance of our yamim tovim. We can survive with not such great weather on Purim. It is on Sukkos when cold or rainy weather can cause serious problems and is a real headache.
Good weather on Purim is a treat, a bonus, if you will. In Florida, California, and Israel, the communities know that they will not be having these types of seasonal transitional challenges. They know that in all likelihood the weather is going to be good, if not great, and that they need not be concerned.
More often than not, we too have fairly decent weather by the time Purim rolls around. This year, though, there is definite reason to be concerned, as the frigidity of the season has a way of holding on and keeping us in winter’s clutches. After all these freezing temperatures, we would like nothing more than to shake winter off. But things don’t happen as easily as they are written.
So, as they say sometimes, I’m dreaming of a white Purim. Did I just say that? Oh no, say it ain’t so. Actually, the forecast does call for some snow next week, but I think that after the 5-degree night earlier this week, we might be out of the ridiculous single-digit-weather woods.
While we really do not want that one-dimensional Florida-like weather and we enjoy the potpourri and atmospheric changes up here, I speak for myself and the few people that I talk with on a semi-regular basis when I say that we have had enough. I know it’s possible. Here comes the sun and some warmth. Hopefully.
Going To AIPAC
The annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee—better known as AIPAC—is always a riveting and compelling assemblage, a sort of first and last word on the U.S.–Israel relationship.
The conference runs next week, March 1–3, in Washington, DC. And not unlike most things these days that deal with the dynamics of the U.S.–Israel relationship, this is going to be big. The centerpiece will be the address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the 16,000 delegates present. This year’s address will take place the day before the prime minister is to address a joint session of Congress.
These are momentous times in the U.S.–Israel bond, which will have to endure challenges presented by President Obama as he seeks to change the dynamics of traditional U.S. support for Israel. As a matter of policy, AIPAC does not busy itself with personal political nuances; their sole goal is to maintain and continuously strengthen support in Congress for Israel, and on that count they have done an exemplary job for decades.
The policy conference is a unique experience as it brings together ardent supporters of Israel from far-flung Jewish as well as non-Jewish communities. Support for the democratic and free state of Israel is widespread in this country essentially because of the values and commitment to freedom that the two countries uniquely share. The friction with the current administration is complicated and somewhat shrouded in mystery. For now, what is needed more than ever is that the light of day be shed on the situation, and that is what AIPAC is able to bring to the table.
There are many sessions for participants to attend. We registered for a few, as we can attend only one at a time. From past experiences, I can say that the sessions are educational and informative, exhaustively focusing on details in a relatively abbreviated period.
The first session that we reserved seats at is “Israel’s Vibrant Economy.” So much of what takes place in the Middle East revolves around finances and economics, perhaps to an even greater extent than ideology. There is no question today that one of Israel’s great strengths is her booming economy. Were Israel a poverty-stricken Third World-type country, you can rest assured the dynamics would be far different.
The next session we will attend is the all-important “The Iranian Nuclear File.” Because these matters involve Iran, it is extremely difficult to ascertain what is believable and what is just sheer, unmitigated falsehood. And that is a big part of the challenge. We hope to learn much more about the rapidly evolving situation on this issue.
Then, just to mix it up a little, I reserved space in a session called “A Taste of Israel” with Tel-Aviv’s favorite foodie, Gil Hovav. The program says it will be a culinary close-up look at the latest food fads in Israel. There are a few other sessions, as well as the massive general sessions that are attended by all delegates, some of which I will be reporting on in next week’s paper and online at 5TJT.com.
The experts say that there has never been a more intense crisis between the U.S. and Israel. While that may be slightly overstated, showing up in numbers in Washington and making our feelings known to our elected officials is vitally important. That might always be the case, but never more so than today. v
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