Not Exactly Snowmaggedon, but a Sight to Behold

Snow in Jerusalem is not unlike a night-blooming cereus - a flower that blossoms once a year, and usually only for one night. Better catch it while you can.

Ilene Prusher
Ilene Prusher
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Ilene Prusher
Ilene Prusher

We went to sleep last night with dreams of waking up to a world blanketed in white, and we awoke to find that our dreams had come true. Magical flakes of white drifted incessantly from the sky all through the early morning, enchanting our children and bringing me back to the many school-free snow days of my childhood.

But Jerusalem snow, I know you. Unlike in the New York suburbs where I grew up, where we made forts and snowmen that sometimes lasted for weeks and could wait until the deluge was firmly in place before we broke out the sleds for a day of downhill thrills, you’re here in the morning and gone in the afternoon. Snow in Jerusalem is not unlike a night-blooming cereus – a flower that opens once a year, and usually only for one night. Better catch it while you can and grab your cameras early, because before you know it, the snow turns to rain and then piles of less-attractive slush.

We sat and watched what for three hours on Thursday morning looked like the early parts of a blizzard, waiting for a break in the cascades of white stuff blowing at full speed, to take our small kids out for a walk. My Israeli husband from Haifa wanted to wait until it stopped before bringing them outside, but having been through more than one so-called snowstorm in Jerusalem, I was skeptical about waiting any longer. It’s like a pot of soup you have to watch carefully – it can turn in a minute. At around 11 a.m. it did just that: the sun started coming out, the temperature began rising, and the flakes turned to drippy rain.

And so we hurried our kids into their boots and jackets and gloves and went out before all was lost. We found our neighbors’ kids making a “snow bird” – a fat white owl, because they couldn’t quite manage a full snowman in the snow turning heavy and wet. We found a plum tree felled in front of the historic home of Shai Agnon, Israel’s only Literature Nobel Laureate, as if a reminder that most of the flora and fauna here – like its people – are not really built for this sort of thing. We looked out from the edge of our snow-coated neighborhood and saw the desert, a reminder of where we are and where we are not, a reminder of why snow in Jerusalem is such a captivating and beautiful a thing.

No, this would not be “Sheleggedon,” as some had dubbed it, morphing the Hebrew word for snow onto Armageddon in the hopes of a winter wonderland that would to rival the “Snowmaggedon” that hit the Northeast of the U.S. in 2010.

Sure, there may be more snow to come. But climactically speaking, the chances of it piling up and staying fluffy and dry is remote. “This is good snow for packing” – words never overheard in Jerusalem.

Still, in these parts, it doesn’t take much snow for schools to close, for roads to be impassible or at least slippery to the point of dangerous, and for the world to turn and look in awe at the unusual city of Jerusalem wearing its heavenly coat of white.

Snow falls in Jerusalem, Dec. 12, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Dome of the Rock, Dec. 13, 2013.
Snow falls in Jerusalem, Dec. 12, 2013.
Snow falls in Jerusalem, Dec. 12, 2013.
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Dome of the Rock, Dec. 13, 2013.Credit: AFP
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Snow falls in Jerusalem, Dec. 12, 2013.Credit: AFP
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Snow falls in Jerusalem, Dec. 12, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Snow in Jerusalem

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