A Tour of Jerusalem in White

This week, Israelis put the election campaign aside. The most interesting show in town was the weather. The largest storm of the season, possibly the largest storm of the decade, swept over the Middle East. In Lebanon, they named the storm “Bride”, for its potential for being white and fluffy.

The storm began on Saturday (Jan 5th) with heavy rains, which caused heavy flooding throughout the country. Ayalon highway, the main highway for the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, which runs along the Ayalon stream, was flooded and blocked when the river overflowed. In Modi’in, the bottom floor of the shopping mall was flooded and the merchandise in the shops was destroyed.

The Ayalon highway. Photo: Haaretz

The Ayalon highway. Photo: Haaretz

A Lebanese blogger, whom I follow, wrote about the Library in his town which was flooded and all the books destroyed. At least four people lost their lives in the storm in Lebanon.

 On Facebook, someone wrote a parody of posts usually written about policemen breaking traffic laws. In this post, the writer describes an imaginary story in which, while swimming down the street, he photographed a policeman talking on his cellphone while kayaking down the street. The policeman gets angry, and signals him to lay anchor on the side of the road. Unable to think of any traffic laws the swimmer had broken, the policeman asks him whether he’d been swimming under the influence of alcohol. The swimmer says no, and the policeman tells him to swim after him to the police station…

Photo circulated on Facebook

Photo circulated on Facebook

In Jerusalem, where I live, many trees fell down. These photos were taken near my home.

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A huge pine tree fell down, tearing branches off nearby trees with it.

The roots of the tree resemble a hand digging into the earth.

The roots of the tree resemble a hand digging into the earth.

The same tree on Wednesday (Jan 9th)

The same tree on Wednesday (Jan 9th)

The same tree this morning (Jan 10th)

The same tree this morning (Jan 10th)

A euacalyptus tree fell on two cars in a parking lot next door.

A euacalyptus tree fell on two cars in a parking lot next door.

One leaf to go...

One leaf to go…

During the first days of the storm, Channel 2 TV had some bloopers, which were, of course, posted on Facebook:

When reporting the huge traffic jams caused by the flooding of the Ayalon, they left out the letter ‘P’ in the phrase “Pkakei Anak” (which means “giant traffic jams”), resulting in the words “Kaki Anak” being printed in large letters on the screen, meaning a “giant poop”.

They must have had a lot of air-time to kill, because at one point they ran an article titled: “Because of the rain: the animals are getting wet”. In honor of this, here are some photos I took of wet animals:

When it rains, cats get wet.

When it rains, cats get wet.

Another wet cat

Another wet cat

But the real attraction of the storm was the snow storm on Wednesday (Jan 9th) and Thursday (Jan 10th).

If you live in the US or in Europe, snow is no big deal to you. You might even consider it a nuisance. But for Israelis, in order to see snow, they have to either drive to Mount Hermon (only in the winter) or book a plane ticket to Europe. Snow anywhere else in Israel is rare, and usually only in Jerusalem and the mountains (Golan heights, Galilee, high peaks in Judea and Samaria). Snow in Jerusalem is an event which does not happen every year, and even when it does, it is usually a very small amount of snow, which is gone within a few hours.

 This year’s snow was definitely the heaviest snow seen in Israel in many years. In our neighborhood, the snow piled to about 20 cm (8 inches). It snowed in the Golan Heights as well as the Galilee, Judea and Samaria as well as in Mitzpe Ramon and other places in the Negev Desert.

At first, it was mostly hail.

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However, in the evening it started snowing for real.

My sister in-law celebrated her birthday yesterday (Wednesday) and decided to have a small birthday event in our apartment. She brought a few friends over, and together we went out to frolic in the snow, along with everyone else in Jerusalem.

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When I woke up this morning and saw this from my window, I was absolutely giddy.

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When I took our dog out for her walk, we ran into a little trouble getting out of our building:

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Our street:

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Another wet animal. Luna enjoys catching snowballs in her mouth.

Another wet animal. Luna enjoys catching snowballs in her mouth.

This is a good way of measuring how deep the snow is.

This is a good way of measuring how deep the snow is.

My Facebook feed is filled with friends’ photos of snow in Jerusalem. Today became an unofficial snow holiday in Jerusalem. Most people stayed home, not having any means of transportation to work, and enjoyed the snow.  PM Netanyahu took a break from his election campaign (or did he?) and posted a photo of his own, having a family snow fight, on his FB page:

Photo: PM Netanyahu's Facebook page.

Photo: PM Netanyahu’s Facebook page.

Later, a friend came over to join me and my wife building a snow woman. For hair, we used branches from the fallen tree.

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The next item on the agenda was for me to go for a long walk around Jerusalem in order to collect some cool pictures for the blog. Here they are:

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From right: The Knesset (Israel's parliament), a hotel, the Calatrava bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, the Israel Museum.

From right: The Knesset (Israel’s parliament), a hotel, the Calatrava bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem, the Israel Museum.

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Hitching rides on Hertzog street.

Hitching rides on Hertzog street.

A sign declaring infrastructure work being done by the Gihon water company for improvement of the water supply system. This snow is brought to you by the Gihon Company. Good to know.

A sign declaring infrastructure work being done by the Gihon water company for improvement of the water supply system. This snow is brought to you by the Gihon Company. Good to know.

Monastery of the Cross

Monastery of the Cross

Olive tree

Olive tree

I took a break to make a snow dog:

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Frozen in time: The flower clock outside the Knesset.

Frozen in time: The flower clock outside the Knesset.

The Knesset

The Knesset

Menorah outside the Knesset

Menorah outside the Knesset

Jerusalem central bus station

Jerusalem central bus station

The light rail: the only mode of public transportation working at the time. Buses have gradually begun running again.

The light rail: the only mode of public transportation working at the time. Buses have gradually begun running again.

The old city

The old city

A snowman welcomes worshippers and tourists at the Western Wall, the closest place to the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount where Jews are allowed to pray.

A snowman welcomes worshippers and tourists at the Western Wall, the closest place to the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount where Jews are allowed to pray.

Mishkenot Sha'ananim is the first Jewish neighborhood to be built outside the walls of the old city. The windmill was built in 1858 by Moshe Montefiore, and the rest of the neighborhood followed two years later.

Mishkenot Sha’ananim was the first Jewish neighborhood to be built outside the walls of the old city. The windmill was built in 1858 by Moshe Montefiore, and the rest of the neighborhood followed two years later.

A man found an original way of keeping his dog warm.

A man found an original way of keeping his dog warm.

Tower of David

Tower of David

Happy snow holiday!

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4 comments

  1. You’d think at how much snow we get here, you’d be getting about the same amount. The floods are their corresponding jokes are the same across borders.

    1. You’re a lot further north, so you probably get more than us.

  2. Beautiful pictures! I live in the US (Texas) where we rarely get snow.

    I’ve been following your blog for a while. I don’t always trust the news as reported by our networks. Also, someone I know is very pro-Palestinian and feels that Israel is the terrible aggressor, so I like getting reports from someone who actually lives in Israel. I appreciate what you have to say. Keep up the good work.

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