Friday, February 1, 2008

Snow Days!

If I didn’t know better, I would think I was already in Chicago. I experienced snow in Jerusalem a few years ago, but this was a totally new level. It started snowing two nights ago and with a few interruptions for rain, it did not let up until Thursday morning. Several times, we had white-out conditions. I didn’t even dare go out on the mirpeset but from the window you could not see very far down Derekh Khevron. The wind was gusting up to around 60 miles per hour (I have no idea what that means in kilometers) and it was really howling.

The kids didn’t have school on Wednesday or Thursday –snow days in Jerusalem! Our friend Tova told us that the Tayelet, the Promenade that overlooks the Old City, is where everyone goes to play on a Jerusalem snow day, so Elan, Mira, Amalya and I bundled up to make the five minute trek to the Haas – Sherover Promenade. We were outside for less than two minutes when Amalya demanded to go back inside! The wind was so strong that it was pushing her backwards. Hovering at around freezing, the air felt like it was significantly below zero, especially when the wind kicked up. Elan and Mira, however, wanted to get out and play, so off we went.

We don’t have winter clothes here and certainly not Chicago winter coats. It was freezing! Worse than the general cold was the fact that I only had gym shoes, mostly mesh, and the ground was exceptionally shlushy so my feet were instantly frozen. We got to the Tayelet after what felt like an hour – I am sure it was only five minutes – frozen to the core. Elan and Mira ran to the snow and made Shlomo the Shnowman and had a great time. This of course changed when the snowball fight started. I am sure you remember the expression it is only fun until someone loses an eye – and then it is twice the fun? Well, that was pretty much the case for the kids.

When they finally agreed to head home, the weather took a turn for the worse. The wind kicked up and what started as snow was now a driving sleet storm. Each small frozen pellet struck the face like a boulder. There was more slush now so we got more and more soaked through – pants, coats, gloves, shoes – until we finally made it back to the apartment. We are really going to have to toughen up a little bit before we move back to Chicago. The blood really does thin when you move to the South for a decade or more.

The rest of the day was like any other snow day – stay inside, make do with what there is to eat, watch the Marx Brothers, Tom and Jerry, and other oldies, make some hot drinks, and just hang out (in the hopes that the children won’t drive each other, and us, crazy. The snow trucks – bulldozers not being used for other purposes – were out trying to clear the roads, and were moderately successful. The snow continued well into the night and the next day. Because so few people knew how to drive in the snow, everything stayed whiter longer. It was and it is truly beautiful. The snow blowing down Derekh Khevron was a natural wonder and kept accumulating.

Thursday was similar to Wednesday except that the sun finally came out and it warmed up just a little. We moved slowly along and finally left the house at around noon to have lunch and hot chocolate with our friends Judah, Hannah, and Abigail. Sarah joined us at home later and we watched more films, ordered in (the kosher delivery business probably made its entire year in the two days that just ended) and then it was time for bed for the family.

The snow overshadowed the major news of the day on Wednesday, the much awaited release of the Winograd Report on the Second Lebanon War. The report was highly critical of the IDF and, evidently, less critical of the government. It is still unclear as to whether or not Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will survive the report, what Barak will do, or what will happen next. But for two days, the snow covered the city and future concerns were put aside in favor of a rare two day Jerusalem snow. We had a wonderful time and…are looking forward to returning to our regular schedule!

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