December 13, 2013

The Storm

As early as Sunday, Israelis started talking about ‘the storm.’ I happened to be hiking last Sunday and as I walked along the sea, I saw distinct signs that the weather was changing. The normally docile Mediterranean was black, waves were surging, frothing churning. Dark, ominous clouds gathered and the rain soon started to pelt down.

We were undeterred, although we were the only hikers out on the trail and finished the hike unscathed save for one small downpour and an incredible Oz-style rainbow.

The rain continued to fall and Israelis chattered on about ‘the storm.’ I read that the army was on call and emergency vehicles were on alert.

This is ‘the storm?’ I asked myself on Wednesday, the day they predicted would feel the brunt of its fury.  For a Canadian, this could be a nasty spring day in May. And if you are Russian, a light coating of snow is bikini weather.

My husband wore shirtsleeves to a meeting and received stares of disbelief. Every Israeli was wrapped in multiple layers of fleece and wool. They all wore boots and a wool hat and scarf became standard indoor apparel.

However, the temperatures suddenly fell across the country and in the higher altitudes, the rain turned to snow. Lots of snow.

While we in the center of Israel were pummeled by intermittent heavy showers, Safed, Hermon, the Shomron, Jerusalem, and even parts of the desert, were cloaked in snow.  Schools closed, roads were shut down and access to Jerusalem was closed.
With Shabbat approaching, Jerusalem is under a sort of weather siege and emergency crews are trying to restore order. As there are no snowplows, bulldozers clear the roads. And as many people cannot get out of their homes, emergency vehicles drive around delivering challah. Ambulance drivers giving out challah? Only in Israel.Check out the twitter pic here.

The army has set up a call center to organize Shabbat meals for those who are stranded. Residents with electricity are inviting those who have cold, dark homes to spend Shabbat with them. People who are secular will dine with religious. The cold will not deter us; it will empower us to create warmth and unity among everyone here.

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