a change in the weather

There is something wonderful and terrible about an unexpected change in the weather. Here in Israel, we have a temperate climate, and tourists come from near and far to enjoy warm weather in the winter, and rain free summers, and to relax on the beach. Because during late spring, summer and part of autumn the water is quite warm and comfortable. And in the winter, many Israelis are willing to wait in lines to go skiing on Mt Hermon, and to enjoy other winter activities in the mountains. When we get snow in Jerusalem, it is generally a party, and folks come from Tel Aviv and B’er Sheva to provide their children with the pleasure of throwing a snow ball or sliding down a hill on a piece of cardboard or a plastic garbage bag, if they don’t have a sled.

the snow from the window of my work room

And we in Jerusalem, look forward to the snow. Since it doesn’t happen all that often, it is cheaper to just close the schools, and limit transportation till the snow is gone. The local citizens complain, of course, and tell one another about how people in Canada or Russia continue about their normal business regardless of snow… but such talk is just for the complainers. We know we have enough problems, without making a big deal about a little snow, and most look at it as a holiday.

the commercial center of my neighborhood

But even so, once in a while the weather takes an unexpected turn, and that puts the ‘fear of God’ into believers, and non-believers make do with ‘awe of nature’. It amounts to the same thing, I suppose. For suddenly, the best made plans become irrelevant, and acts of heroism are taken almost for granted, as neighbor helps neighbor, and grown men are seen with tears in their eyes, and the regular order of things are turned upside down.

the deserted lottery booth at the center

I remember reading in the psalms, of the rivulets of the Negev turning suddenly into mighty rivers… and this was before the TV arrived… and I had never seen it with my own eyes. But this near miracle is something that happens almost every winter. When there’s a hard rain here in Jerusalem, the water makes its way from the mountains to the Negev desert, and converging with waters coming from other high lands… dry river beds turn suddenly into raging rivers. I have seen it since, many times, on TV. It can catch a jeep, and just throw it around like a toy in the hands of a child, and often people who are unfamiliar with the territory, are swept away, only to be found a few days later, a week later, or a month later… in far away places. It is amazing. And even though it has happened more than once… for some reason, people forget about it… ignore the warning they get from the rangers, and prefer to walk along a dry river bed rather than on the rocky paths of the high hills.

my neighbors build a snowman for their children

So far, the snow in Jerusalem hasn’t really been that great. It snows for a while, and then there’s some rain that washes most of it away. And then there’s a little more snow. The serious snow lovers, are disappointed. In the north it’s better. They have a half a meter on the ground in the north, and that is a great pleasure. But in our area, we had quite a storm before the snow started decorating our city streets. And there was cold and wind. And for some, that was enough to make lives rather uncomfortable. A great wind came, and tore branches off of trees, but we here in Jerusalem weren’t too bothered by that. We found refuge in our stone houses, and waited for the wind to die down.

Noga arrives with enough weekend newspapers to keep me interested…

But less than a hundred kilometers to the north, where my son Gamliel lives in a little village, that wind raised havoc. Gamliel has been enlarging his family’s home, so there’d be a bit more room for the six children. And while working on the house, the family moved into a modest cabin in the same village. In the early afternoon of last Wednesday, the wind came through, and lifted the roof right off the cabin and deposited it, in pieces, in a nearby valley. His daughter was at home when it happened, and saw it all. Fortunately, no one was hurt.


42 responses to “a change in the weather

  1. This is not a picture of Jerusalem one imagines and it’s relative rarity makes me all the more grateful to you for sharing it with us. Thank you.

    • You’re very welcome, Chillbrook. I often get the impression that people don’t really get the whole picture when it comes to my country, and this is one of the reasons I like to share my point of view. Thank you so much for sharing…

  2. Thank you for the vivid portrait, in words and images, of your home, Shimon. It was fun to see a family in Jerusalem making a snowman! Part of my childhood was in southern Ohio, where snow was also a rarity, and always meant a day “off” from school. As you say, it felt like a holiday.

    • Nice to hear about that Catherine. You know, I have read, and seen pictures from America, and even visited on a number of occasions, but I know next to nothing about Ohio, and have never been there. I look forward to getting to know a little more about your home state through reading your blog. And yes, snow can be a lot of fun, if there isn’t too much of it.

  3. I find that when I pop in to see you that I read your posts once, go away, read again and then ponder some more. All very pleasurable. Your first photo taken from your work room is magical with the greenery, the snow and the walls.
    And good to hear that your family was unhurt.

    • Thank you so much, Claire. I am so glad you enjoy reading the blog, as I do yours. For many years, when I was working on analog photography, and developing films and prints in this same room, that window was blocked off because of the dark room. It is one of the advantages of this computer age, that I am able to look out at nature, and enjoy it so much!

  4. At the end the snow is there too… Did I tell you, I don’t like snow, just in the pictures, films or from the window I love to watch… Makes me worry always, maybe comes from my childhood days… It is same in Istanbul too, dear Shimon, when it snows, they close the schoold, etc. And we give the same example, as you said, Canada… 🙂 But of course the happiest ones are the children… I remember, when I was a child I prayed always for snow that the schould to close… What amazing days… By the way, you photographs are so nice. Especially first two hit me… I loved the view from your your work room. And in the second one, I wanted to walk all these shops, (if they are shops)… such a beautiful square… maybe to have a cup fo tea too. Thank you dear Shimon, stay in warm and safe. Have a nice weekend, with my love, nia

    • I am sorry that you don’t enjoy the snow, Nia. I have to admit, that I really like it, especially if it is warm inside… and drinking a hot chocolate. As I mentioned to Claire just now, that beautiful window was blocked for many years because I used to do darkroom work here. Now, because of the computer, I am able to enjoy nature! Thank you so much for your good wishes!

  5. Dear Shimon, sorry for my mistakes… My mind thinks something my fingers types something different… 🙂

    • Oh please, you don’t have to apologize for such a thing, my dear Nia. As long as we understand each other, there is NO problem, and I understand you very well. We all make mistakes with the keyboard at times… it just helps to show our humanity.

  6. Rare pictures of Jerusalem, a little amount of snow never make the international news. Wonderful to see it on your blog. Good thing no one was hurt in the wind storm.
    Am following your blog from now on and I will be back. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Francis, for coming by… and now I found your blog too, and am enjoying getting to know you (though it’s still not clear to me if you are a man or a woman). I never get used to the amazing possibilities of getting to know new people and seeing and hearing new things about this world of ours… It is really wonderful.

  7. Greetings, Sir … what a beautiful picture out of your window … the plant looks much like the one I have in my livingroom (I think)… I call it my porcelan plant since the flowers look very much like it. Wishing you awonderful week end. Love, cat.

    • Thank you my dear cat, for coming by… and thank you for your good wishes. How amazing to think that we see pretty much the same leaves, from Jerusalem and from Canada. But there is no need to call me Sir. I am a simple man (and half cat too), and am pleased if you call me by my first name.

  8. Although I’ve seen pictures before, the concepts of ‘snow’ and ‘Israel’ somehow don’t sit easily together in my mind! Thanks for sharing this glimpse into your climate.

    • Yes, I have heard this from a number of people. I often think about how our impressions of foreign countries and people are often like a caricature. When I was young I traveled quite a bit in this world, and it was quite an education. Thank you for your comment, Graham.

  9. Thank you for sharing pictures of Jerusalem. I hope to visit there one day. And I had no idea there was skiing in Israel!

  10. The pictures are wonderful. I didn’t know it ever snowed in Jerusalem. I grew up in the “snowbelt” where it was not unusual to have three feet of snow and still go to school. But now I live in the south and rarely see snow. When it does snow, like in Jerusalem, everything shuts down for a day or two then the snow is gone.
    Sometimes I miss the snow but don’t want to live in it anymore–visiting it once in a while is fine with me.

    • I spent some time in Switzerland, and I felt much the same as you describe… though it wasn’t the snow that bothered me as much as the cold. But I am grateful for all the seasons here. It really gives depth to our lives. Thank you so, for your comment, Patricia.

  11. In this and the post about golden arches I find myself feeling wistful for what you have there. Such wisdom to simply close down for a day of snow, rather than fight it. I live near Chicago, where people pride themselves on not slowing down but I think our souls wither when we refuse to let God dictate our schedule a little bit. …of course, we tend to get a lot of snow, so I suppose too many snow days would be bad for business. I am glad your family was not hurt in the storm.

    • Yes, I visited Chicago many years ago, and remember the weather being very much a part of life there. I suppose we have to find a way to live with what we generally expect. But in the case of phenomena that just come now and then, I do think that it is wonderful to relax and enjoy it. Thank you for your comment, Melissa.

  12. I love the photo from the window of your workroom. We’re having snow here in northern California too. Enjoy!

  13. How frightening it must have been for Gamliel’s daughter to experience such a mighty wind. Grateful no one was hurt, although it surely must have created a big of havoc for the family.

    Appreciate the photos you’ve shared. Like the others have said, it is hard for me to imagine snow and Jerusalem in the same sentence, but surely if we can get snow in Texas, you can get snow in Jerusalem. Our weather today crept up to 94 degrees (F), or 34 degrees (C). While you were pulling on your boots and gloves, we were turning on the fans and thinking about getting our gardens started. One world, but worlds apart. And yet so close that I can practically smell the newsprint on the papers Noga is carrying. Thanks for sharing this with us, and allowing us to see a glimpse into your world. Stay cozy, and warm.

    • Thank you very much, N. It has been very warm and cozy inside, during this cold wave we’ve been going through. The weather report said that it was going to warm up now, but it still seems quite cold… around ten degrees. I like 34º weather, but we only see that at the height of summer, as we are on a mountain here. I am still waiting to have a conversation with Tziona, Gamliel’s daughter. But I am hoping that she looks at the experience as something of a miracle.

  14. I enjoy your pictures of a place I long to visit. Thank you.

    • I am so happy that you enjoy the pictures, winsomebella, and I do hope that you get a chance to visit someday. I would be very glad to meet you.

  15. Very neat to see the snow pictures in Jerusalem.

    Glad to hear your granddaughter is alright.

    Neat information about the river.

    There is a desert here in the U.S. that almost never gets rain but a few years ago it did and wild flowers galore popped up everywhere for the span of about two weeks in which time a few photographers took advantage. It was amazing. Scientists could not figure out how so many wildflowers could grow where nothing usually grows. The photographers said it was one of the greatest wildflower displays they had ever seen. This was coming from photographers that travel the world looking for beautiful landscapes to photograph.

    • We have a few deserts here in Israel, and I know that phenomenon quite well/ They say that sometimes the seeds wait in the ground for years… just for the right conditions… and then it is a sight worth seeing. In the north, we have lots of wild flowers though, and here in Jerusalem too. And they are protected by law. And it is such a pleasure watching them as they appear in spring. Thank you for your comment, BoJo.

  16. it always amaze me how magic everything turns out to be in Yerushaláyim, even the weather.
    though, it’s always too chilly for me at night around the Kotel!

    • I am beginning to realize that you are quite familiar with our country, and with our language. Are you Hebrew speaker, Trilli? It does get very cold around the kotel in winter, but on summer nights, it is often a pleasure, straight through the night. Thank you for your comment.

  17. That is ALOT of snow! When I visited Jerusalem in January of 1989, some flurries drifted down one morning and everyone–including us–shivered and had an extra coffee. Then we boarded a bus and went to Tel Megiddo and wanted ice water all of a sudden. The geography is incredible–from high mountains, to the lowest spot on earth, all within a short distance. I truly love the view from your study window.

    • I agree with you, Lance. I think that one of the most unique things about our country, is the way so many different faces of this world are all found within a rather small piece of geography, and that includes some of the human attributes as well. I’m glad you enjoyed the view from my study, and it is always nice to hear of your visit to our country.

  18. What can I add? I agree with everything. I should have known you are an old photographer! Your photographs are perfect. How in the world do you tolerate my own? Ha! I am so shameless, Shimon.

    If I could share one thing, it would be the view from that workroom window. I am happy that it opened up for you…finally. Your community is a beautiful place. I can feel it in your photographs.

    It was truly a miracle that your granddaughter was unhurt. I am glad to hear it. Bring back photographs of the construction on the house and of the family too. I want to see the countryside where your family lives.

    Stay safe and warm. I am very afraid for you in these times.

    • How sweet of you to say such things about my photography, George. Though actually, the appreciation of art and photography is like everything else. We don’t fall in love with the most beautiful man or woman. We are attracted to those who answer a need within us, or who balance something about our own personalities. The same goes for art. There is much beauty in this world, but what is most meaningful for us, are the things that correspond to what interests us most on a personal level… it is very individual, and a matter of taste. Thank you so much for your comment.

  19. That is why I love your blog, I love to see your country through your eyes. I did not know that it snowed in Israel. I really love stone buildings and would love to see more. You are so lucky to get newspapers. They are so expensive here now. We listen to news on radio & tv and the rest we look online because printed news is now unaffordable.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, GB. Here, the newspapers are not so expensive. I suppose the advertisers cover most of the costs. But I have to admit that over the years I’ve lost a lot of interest in reading the newspaper. I do like reading book reviews and cultural items, but I get more than enough of the news by way of the radio and the internet, and it doesn’t fascinate me the way it did in the past. Thank you for your comment.

  20. Lovely photos of the snow. No matter how many times we have seen it, there is something magical about how it decorates a landscape.

  21. Thanks for your reply Shimon.

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