Word of the Day / Barad

Hint: You can drink it, get hit on the head with it or watch Arctic ice turn into it.

Shoshana Kordova
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A strawberry 'barad'.Credit: The Girl Who Ate Everything
Shoshana Kordova

Israel has been a bit under the weather this week, to say the least. It is being buffeted by the worst storm in a decade. The weather front is characterized by major thunderstorms, unusually cold weather for this Middle Eastern climate, strong winds, flooding - including of highways, railway lines and malls, and hail.

The funny thing about Israeli barad (pronounced ba-RAHD) is that while rain and hail are almost exclusively limited to the winter, barad is at least as much a summertime phenomenon as it is a wintertime one. In the summer people happily slurp cupfuls of barad instead of running for cover as it pings down from the sky.

That's because in addition to being the biblical term for one of the 10 plagues, barad is also the Hebrew term for slushie.

A Hebrew article on the environment brings Arctic weather back into the picture, translating a U.S. research scientist's comments about global warming into a statement that parts of the Arctic have become like a giant barad drink. But a website geared toward Israeli triathletes summons up thoughts of the merciless Mediterranean sun that awaits us all too soon, as it urges its readers to "drink a barad before training and races" when it's very hot outside,

Thoughts of summer might just help Israelis get through the rest of the week. As we duck balls of falling ice, we really ought to keep in mind that soon enough we'll be paying for the privilege.