Having grown up in Halifax, Canada, snow is not a new experience for me. But a
snowstorm in Jerusalem is not a snowstorm in Halifax. In the 30 years I have
lived here, this is the fourth major snowfall I can remember. Each time is both
as magical – and as predictable – as the one before.
People are sent home
from work at the first sign of a snowflake; schools are closed; and as the snow
begins to accumulate, inevitably, the city becomes an island, completely
detached from its surroundings.
I was due to fly Saturday; and while I
considered all the possible ways of trying to get to Tel Aviv for the night
before, none was feasible. I live on a narrow street in Jerusalem, and my car
sits behind an electric gate. Even in the best of weather, departing the
driveway and making the turn demands a serious degree of skill.
had broken off the tree above the car’s parking spot and ripped off the back
windshield wiper. I was lucky; it could have broken the rear window
There was no electricity in my neighborhood for most of
Friday, so I couldn’t open the electric gate.
My travel agent kept
telling me to take the train to Tel Aviv, not realizing that getting to the
train station was as much of a challenge as getting out of the
And with an electricity outage, how does one walk away from
one’s apartment not knowing which appliances are still turned on and which are
not? Being the kind of person who tends to be organized and prepared, I have all
the right equipment and clothing for winter – in Canada or in Jerusalem. Of
course my boots and my down duffle coat were both packed in preparation for the
And the fridge was pretty much empty.
That’s when you
improvise! Powdered vegetable stock becomes soup when you boil up some water on
the gas stove. Whoops! We now live in the first world and modern stoves have
their own electric spark to light the gas.
Out come the
And the phone calls never stop – from other parts of Israel and
Everyone wants to be touched by this phenomenon. But with
modern technology, everything requires some kind of electricity. Cordless
landline phones stop working; mobiles have to be recharged.
As I watched
the battery go down on my cellphone, and as the cold began to take its toll on
my body, I decided it was time to go visit friends who live not far away – just
far enough away to have electricity.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime
to teach my native-born friends about hot rum toddys.
For most of us, the
great storm of 2013 was a time for frolic and snapshots and wonderful memories.
For those who did not pay attention to the instructions of authorities and were
stuck in cars for hours in the cold and then complained of not being rescued
fast enough...enough said.
Once again, the vignettes in life are
vivid. The man across the street who thought that he could simply get into his
car and drive away, forgetting that cars are made of metal and pieces
The locks refused to open. Citrus trees were full of fruit and
covered in snow.
Snowmen (and women) were being created by children
wearing plastic bags over their shoes. Radio and television (for those with
electricity) filled the hours as though on a war footing.
has subsided for now.
The work week begins anew and we will all exchange
stories of the fun and of travails.
In Halifax, no one talks about a
In Jerusalem, each storm brings new adventures and new
challenges. Jerusalem streets will always be narrow and impossible to clear. And
there will always be outages.
But it’s always better here.The
writer is longtime resident of Jerusalem.
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