Ben-Gurion Airport Sees Registers Record Traffic as Holiday Season Begins

Ben-Gurion Airport registered a record 52,000 passengers passing through its gates on Thursday. The Airports Authority projects 820,000 passengers will use the airport by mid-October. The eve of the Sukkot holiday and the day after the holiday are expected to be particularly busy, with 50,000 passengers and more each day.

However, passenger traffic this fall is not expected to top the record set last month, when 1,462,225 passengers passed through Ben-Gurion International Airport, on 9,906 flights.

Turkey is emerging as the most popular destination this fall, with the U.S. in second, followed by the U.K., Germany and Italy. Uman in Ukraine's Cherkasy Oblast province is also a top destination this fall, with thousands of Hassidic Jews flying there to visit the site of the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, founder of the Bratslav Hasidic movement.

The site has been visited by 25,000 Jews from all over the world for Rosh Hashanah.

Meanwhile, farmers in the north took the falling of early rains on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, to be an encouraging sign for the month to come, which they hope will offset some of the deficit in Israel's water reserves that has accumulated over the past few relatively dry winters.

According to Alex Kudish, orchard manager of Kibbutz Ein Zivan on the Golan Heights, the area saw a relatively meager amount of 11 milliliters over the weekend. The Druze villages in the northern part of the Golan Heights saw 50 milliliters.

"We are now at the height of the apple-picking season and this blessed rain will spare us a couple of days of watering in the orchards," said Kudish, who added that this year's crop was "impressive" in its quality.

Miriam Hod, a boutique hotel owner from Metula, said that rains on Rosh Hashanah were a rare occurrence. "Rains usually come in October, not September. Maybe it's a sign for a good year of rains and good agriculture," she said.

Holiday hikers preferred to stay out of the usually-crowded camping sites near Lake Kinneret this weekend. The less endeavoring option of room and board appealed to many, and bed-and-breakfasts across the Galilee were full almost to capacity, according to Kushi Levi, chairman of the tourism association in the Galilee.

Some came specifically after the rains to see the autumn awakening of the Galilee and Golan, whose hills grow a thick carpet of emerald green grass and other plants to replace the yellow and gray of summer's wilted seasonal plants.

One of them was Ami Hassan from Safed, who toured the Golan with his family in his 4x4 vehicle, along with a few other families from the area.

"The first rain washed down the air and exposed the Golan in its natural colors, and the fruit-laden trees in the orchards look prettier than ever," he said.

Those who stayed in and around Metula had to dispense with electricity, after a lightning storm took out the power.