Monday, February 1, 2010

Miflas HaKinneret

Among the many important things about Israel you'll never learn by following the media is the matter of the surface level of the Sea of Galilee. About a third of Israel's water is stored in the lake, but since the rest is in underwater aquifers they can't be seen; the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) is right out there where we all see it. And boy do we watch: Nachum Barnea, the country's top journalist, once remarked that being an Israeli means getting up each morning and checking how high (or low) the surface level of the Kinneret is. So much so, that the Hebrew word miflas (surface level) has been loaned to other existential worries: miflas ha-harada, for example, means the level of national dread - a term which doesn't even exist in any other language I'm aware of. (That miflas is actually rather low these days: defeating the 2nd Intifada, building the barrier, hitting Hamas in Gaza so hard that it stopped rocketing; all these things for which much of the world detests us have made life much less stressful, at least for the time being).

The surface of the Kinneret reaches its highpoint each year in May, then sinks until the rains of the following winter begin re-filling it, usually sometime in December. This summer it went lower than ever, which was very bad; the winter rains in the Galilee, however, have been plentiful this year.... But we couldn't know how much this was raising the sea surface, because the Water Authority staff was on strike since early December.

This week they resolved it, and we can now follow our Kinneret again. Here, even if you don't read Hebrew, I think you'll be able to figure it out. (Keep in mind that the Sea of Galilee is beneath Sea Level - 213.38 meters, as of this morning). Check it each day, to give yourself the feeling.


Anonymous said...

Ever read Daniel Hillel's 'The Natural History of the Bible'?

I just finished his 'Out of the Earth'. Best 'basic soil ecology and why it affects everything' primer I've read.


marek said...

miflas is level in English and equivalent in Polish is poziom

Lee Ratner said...

No, I've seen stories about the importance of Lake Kinneret for Israel's water needs in the media.

Anonymous said...

what is this?
barrels with explosives from Gaza explode on your beaches?