From the beginning of last week, the weatherman
said that a big storm was on its way, but even with advance warning, it seems
that Israel was not ready for what it was about to experience.
region with about eight months of summer and barely enough days of rain to
provide the water needed for consumption by the local population, it is not
unusual for the rabbis to call on the public to add special prayers for
On this issue, the secular seem to appreciate the efforts of the
observant. When the rain finally does make its debut, the Israeli public reacts
as if our national soccer team won the World Cup. That being said, snow is a
very exciting prospect for Israelis.
It is pretty rare, only coming
around for about one brief snow day every three years. Some takes hold in the
towns on mountain tops, like Jerusalem, Tzfat and the communities in Judea and
The kids, of course, wait with great anticipation for the snow.
Truth be told, it’s not just the kids.
When it does snow, Israelis from
the seashore areas go on pilgrimages to the hills to see the phenomenon for
Thursday brought cold and heavy rain all day. Kids stood by
the windows for hours, examining the drops of rain to determine if they might
really be snow in disguise.
When it got late and the snow hadn’t yet
covered the ground, my little ones refused to go to sleep, in case the snow
might fall and not wait for morning.
I assured them that if the snow did
show up during the night, it would still be there in the morning. At about that
time, a bit of snow began to fall, mixed with the cold rain.
bundled up and went to sleep.
In the middle of the night I realized that
the whole town was in total darkness. We had lost our connection to the main
By Friday morning, the Shomron was covered in
Our electricity, phones and Internet were down.
We got ready
for Shabbat by cooking on the gas stove and using snow to keep our food cold –
With no electricity to keep the refrigerator working, I collected some pots of
snow to keep the fridge cold, too.
Hot water for showers before Shabbat
was not available.
We lit a lot of candles and had early Erev Shabbat
services at the main synagogue with all of our neighbors who had chosen to stay
home, and not seek refuge with family or friends in the lower Tel Aviv
Our family had the Shabbat meal by candlelight, as the electric
company had not succeeded in getting the lights back on before
Later on that night a generator was trucked in to provide for
many, but not all of the families in their homes, but we still had no street
lights, no phone lines and no Internet.
Over Shabbat, our community was
An army helicopter landed to evacuate a baby with
pneumonia and a woman giving birth.
Almost 50 members of our extended
family gathered in our home to spend the day of Shabbat together and share the
warmth. Nieces, nephews and in-laws were happy to know that everyone here was
alright, but we all remained concerned for family members who live at more
distant locations – on the hilltops of Itamar and elsewhere.
totally cut off from all utilities and communication until Sunday
Our communities are still not back on the main electrical grid
and our phone lines are still down.
On one hand, it is shocking to
realize that a flash of bad weather can close down the entire region of Judea
and Samaria as well as the capital, Jerusalem, for the better part of three
days. But considering that the last time the region experienced such a bad storm
was some 150 years ago, how well prepared can the authorities be? We appreciate
all of the workers from the electric company, the regional municipalities, the
IDF and the emergency agencies who are working tirelessly, around the clock, in
the thick of this harsh weather to do their best to provide solutions for the
It is really amazing how Israel’s society mobilizes to
help in situations such as these.
In our town, we have a volunteer
committee called “Tzachi”, which takes upon itself to deal specifically with
emergency situations within the community.
With great efficiency, they
managed to map out who was here and what type of assistance was
A friend from outside the community volunteered his bulldozer
to clear away snow and provide access to roads within the
Personally, as a dad, I am very proud of my son, Yair-Macabee, who
was sent with his IDF unit to Jerusalem in the thick of the storm to go knocking
on doors, from home to home, to make sure that civilians there had the basics to
make it through this freezing cold weekend.
The writer lives with his
wife Mollie and their eight children in Kfar Tapuach in Shomron. Follow him on Twitter, @haivri.