Residents of the Holy City woke up to a blanket of white, as some six inches of snow fell in one night last week, the largest snowfall since 1992. Schools were canceled, businesses closed, and joyful children bundled up to play in the cold white stuff many had never seen or enjoyed.
“It’s really fun because you can jump in it and not get hurt,” a pink-cheeked Shalom Hammer-Kosoy, 8, said after warning his friends not to throw snowballs at his face. “I remember we had snow once before, but I was really little and didn’t like snow then.”
His friend Yotam Rothberg, also 8, urged him to keep playing. “There’s no school, and I’m having a snowball fight with my friends,” he said with a big grin. “This is the first time I’ve seen so much snow.”
Municipal officials urged the city’s 760,000 residents to stay off the treacherous roads. In addition to the school closings, offices followed suit, and for a time, the main entrance to the capital was impassable, highways leading to the city non-functional.“The municipality and the police [were] coordinating their response to the weather,” police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said, noting at the time that “the city is basically shut down. Ambulances have been equipped with chains on their tires, and so far we have no reports of any emergencies.”
For the adults, it was an opportunity to enjoy a day off. Adina Issachar, a personal trainer, said that at least six of her clients called her wanting to see if they could still train with her. One even walked her 1-year-old son over to his day care center, only to find it closed.
“I’m losing so much money today — but I don’t care,” Issachar said. “I’m lying in bed watching ‘Homeland.’ It’s so much fun.”
Her husband, Yoram, a contractor, also had the day off. He said he went to synagogue at 6 a.m. and was surprised to find 15 people there.
“It was beautiful outside and so romantic,” he said. “But the snow also does a lot of damage.”
The snow came after several days of heavy rain pounded all of Israel in the worst storm in a decade. Rescue workers managed to save Israeli soldiers after the bus they were riding in was swept into a flooded stream in the Negev desert in the southern part of the country.
Last Tuesday, two Palestinian women were killed when their car was swept away by flood waters. Their bodies were discovered on Wednesday. An elderly woman in Hebron was killed when a gas heater caught fire in her home.
Israeli authorities are estimating the damage caused by the storm throughout the country at more than 1 billion NIS ($260 million), not including lost productivity. Still, the children report that they hope the snow will last — and come again — so school will be closed. Their parents, on the other hand, might feel differently.