New York City is digging out from a huge snow storm that hit us, starting late on Friday night and continuing throughout the day on Saturday. This snow-scape dumped the wet and white stuff on much of the northeast and coastal states in the US. My husband's family in suburban Maryland received more snow than we did. Snow was in the air, in the media, and on our lips, literally and figuratively.

When it snows so heavily on Shabbat I feel badly because it makes it that much harder for Jews to get over to shul, And I recently injured my knee, so I did not want to take chances making the injury worse by shlepping in heavy, icy snow. Thus I stayed home.
I was not happy about that, because Shabbat Shira is one of my favorite "very minor holidays" and the haftorah portion features the feisty, resourceful, tough-gal Yael. Yael is the Hebrew name I chose for my older daughter, and I have hoped that her biblical namesake has proven to be a good role model for my child. (When I mentioned late in the morning that it was the "Yael" haftorah, Jessica merely said "Oh, yeah.")

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Despite this disappointment, there was something extra special about the Friday night-Saturday morning and afternoon snowfall. It was so quiet outside, much of the time. (Although sometimes I heard the wind howling. Creepy.) The elevated subway trains that run near my house were stopped. The NYC mayor, Bill deBlasio, announced that he wanted no cars to travel on Saturday except for emergency vehicles. It was quiet, quiet, quiet out there. Occasionally we heard the sound of people's boots crunching through the thick snow.


Sunday morning was quite a different scene. People were outside, shoveling snow, working on getting their cars warmed up and moving. Some kids (including my two daughters and their friend) romped in the snow. Yes, teenagers do enjoy playing in the snow. The kids went into the backyard, constructed snow forts, and pelted each other with snowballs.

I did a good deal of shoveling snow at our house. I have always enjoyed shoveling, for the exercise, the chance to be out in pretty white fluff, and for the sense of age-old accomplishment. My husband did more afterward. While I shoveled I noticed that only two people spoke to me. I find that a bit irksome: I do think that people should thank the people who are shoveling, or at least say hello. Be neighborly! One woman commiserated with me, saying about the snow "This is unreal!" And an older Orthodox man stopped and chatted with me for several minutes. At one point he mentioned that this snowstorm seemed rather big. "Like in the old country?" I asked him. "Yes." I followed with "You mean Europe?" He chuckled and said "No, the Bronx." And then we talked about Jewish life in the Bronx. See, snowstorms can (and should) bring out the social graces. People too often hunker down and hide during the snow; snow should also be a topic of conversation. And maybe of a few good snowball battles!

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