Postponed Parade of Flags. Photo by Michael Cohen
Torrential rains in Jerusalem on Wednesday forced the postponement and cancellation of some of the central events marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of the holy city under Israeli rule.
The "Parade of Flags" through central Jerusalem was postponed until the early evening, and several outdoor memorial ceremonies were called off altogether as Jerusalem was hammered with well over an inch of rain during a two-hour period in the middle of the day. Flash floods were a danger not only in the valleys outside of Jerusalem, but also on many streets in the city itself.
It was the first time since Israel liberated the eastern half of Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation that Jerusalem Day events were affected by rain.
Those familiar with Israel will know that such heavy rain in mid-to-late May is rare, if not unprecedented.
Religious commentators provided a range of reasons for the extraordinary downpour on a day that was supposed to be filled with joyous outdoor celebration marking what many view as a divine restoration of Jerusalem to Israel.
On one side of the spectrum, some Israelis explained that even the heavens had opened up to bless Jerusalem on its special day. Rain is precious in this arid region that goes without precipitation for months during the summer.
Others opined that God was not going to allow Jerusalem to celebrate while the residents of the southern town of Sderot wept and fled their homes under a deluge of Palestinian rockets. Israel's leadership has been harshly criticized for effectively abandoning the defense of Sderot, while focusing such lavish attention on matters like Jerusalem Day.