Congregants brave snowy streets

"Nothing, even a snowstorm, deters the truly religiously observant."

orthodox snow 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
orthodox snow 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Nothing, even a snowstorm, deters the truly religiously observant.
Therefore, many synagogues had services on Friday morning as well as Friday night and Saturday, although some had to cancel services due to lack of electricity – which meant not only lack of light, but also heating.
At the Friday morning service of the Hazvi Yisrael congregation in Talbiyeh, there was a quorum at the first minyan at 5:55 a.m., and according to immediate past president David Zwebner, as many as 17 people at the second minyan at 6:50 a.m. This included two kohanim, one of whom was from Los Angeles and staying at the Inbal Hotel.
Benjamin Lerner, another congregant, sent out an email lamenting that it seemed no one had a shovel, because there was snow covering every sidewalk. Then he corrected himself and said that he knew of a shovel on the synagogue premises, “but it’s on the third floor and no one went to get it.”
Lerner and his wife, who live at the bottom of a very long hill, watched melted snow pass by their apartment – forming what he called the meter-wide “Jabotinsky River.” He warned people not to try to jump over it, saying it was risky if they missed and slipped, advising it was better to walk through the water and get cold, wet feet.
To make matters worse, the Great Synagogue on Friday afternoon sent out an email informing residents that the eruv in the capital was down.
This meant that people who braved the weather to go to synagogue services, or to other people’s homes for Shabbat dinner, would not be able to carry keys, handkerchiefs, prayer books or hostess gifts. Men, instead of carrying their prayer shawls, would have to wear them; there are divided schools of opinion about whether men are allowed to protect their headgear with a plastic covering, which in some halachic circles is regarded as tantamount to building a tent – and forbidden.
Happily, the eruv problem sorted itself out an hour and seven minutes before Shabbat, and another email was dispatched stating that the eruv was up again. All those who dared venture out on Friday night or Saturday morning heaved a collective sigh of relief.
Among those who did attend services on Saturday morning was octogenarian Estelle Fink, who lives on the seam of Rehavia-Talbiyeh, and who spent quite some time without electricity. To navigate her way through the snow and ice, she used two walking sticks like ski poles. She was aided by the fact that two of her relatives, plus a police car and an ambulance in front of her, cleared a path – so that she could walk in reasonable comfort.
Chabad of Rehavia director Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, who hosts a kiddush every Saturday, sent out an email with an illustration of a big pot, inviting all those who wanted to join him to come to the center for hot cholent.
When there is a national disaster, few people are spared. President Shimon Peres was among those who suffered a power outage and found themselves temporarily without light or heat.
There was also a power outage in the street in which Mayor Nir Barkat lives in Beit Hakerem. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may have experienced the two very brief power outages that robbed his neighbors of electricity for only a few minutes at a time on Friday – but in his case it would not have mattered, because he has a generator.
Like many streets in Jerusalem, the street in which the prime minister resides was littered for days with broken branches and garbage. All the garbage bins in his street were full to overflowing, to the extent that at one end of the street, the lid remained open because the pile had risen so high. There was also lots of garbage around the bin, and the cats were having a field day.
While its true that garbage collectors could not get through the snow and ice on many of the city’s small side streets, they could travel on the main roads, and the garbage bins – which all have wheels – could have been wheeled to the corner.
It was only late on Monday afternoon that this option was exercised, but the bins were not returned to their proper place and were left on the corner.