Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pulled Alive from the Dead Sea

The rescue of an eight-year old boy, who was pulled alive from the Dead Sea after midnight on Friday following five hours of intensive searching, is hailed as a miracle in today's Israeli press reports. Little Shneur Zalman Friedman kept his hopes afloat and his head above water even though his ultra-Orthodox dad and brother failed to notice that he was missing until almost nightfall. (It was a male-only outing on Thursday afternoon, and Izzy Bee can't help but wonder whether Mama Friedman, back in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, might have noticed sooner that her son was nowhere to be found. Brisk offshore winds caused him to drift south for three kilometers.)

It's almost impossible to sink in this buoyant mineral-laden Dead Sea, as the photo above shows. But a single drop in the eye causes excruciating pain and after five hours of submersion, the little boy would have had a tremendous thirst and chapped lips. Swallowing any water would have been disastrous. The little boy with salt-caked sidecurls was in shock when a boat finally pulled up alongside him. He eventually told his rescuers that he'd recited Psalms, prayed and even briefly dozed off, and had contemplated swimming toward the mountains for help. To avoid an international incident, the IDF warned Jordanian authorities on the opposite shore about their night search which featured emergency flairs, helicopters, and motor boats.

Ironically, the Israeli lifeguards' union went on general strike the following day, all along the coast except for Tel Aviv and Haifa. Five Israelis drowned over the weekend, three of them after the strike went into effect, when police officers had to stand guard. Rookie Israeli lifeguards are paid only minimum wage, 19.50 shekels per hour (less than five dollars) and negotiations for increases had stalemated. The Mediterranean Sea, unlike the calmer Dead Sea, now is rife with riptides and higher than normal waves. Since the bathing season started in April, 19 Israelis have drowned.


Fee Fie Fo Frum said...

G-d does not look after those who swim on Shabat, or who indulge in mixed bathing. Praise be to little Shneur Zalman Friedman and his prayers. This was a lesson which shows blessings for those who follow the commandments.

Deborah said...

I understand clearly the needs for pay increases, but when jobs affect human life, I don't think it's right that they should be capable to strike.

If someone lost their life due to me taking leave for strike pay, I don't know how I'd be able to bear the guilt.

It's a fact of life that costs of living steadily increase. I can't raise the rates I charge customers if I want to remain competitive. It's the life I chose, and I'm the one that has to deal with my choices, not others.