Snow responsibly: Extreme Weather Guide for Israelis 2015

It’s (become) the most wonderful time of the year: snow in Israel! Going strong three years in a row (thanks, climate oddities). Predictions are that the coming snowstorm this Wednesday will be pretty intense, though possibly less than last year.

So, yeah, my kids totally think ‘mageya la’hem’ snow. Can’t blame them.

Nothing makes me prouder of my North American origins than an Israeli snow day. Finally, finally, I know what the fuck I’m on about.

Leggings under your outer pants? Amateur hour.

Two pairs of gloves – thin clothy kind under, bulky thinsulate kind over? Of course.

Plastic bags over your socks, rubber bands around your ankles? Obviously.

Digging out your beach boogie board for sledding? That’s just survival of the fittest.

Happen to own a pair of snow-protective Merrells because I liked them and they were on sale in New York in March and I’ve worn them inappropriately for four years in the Middle East but now I’m forever prepared with dry warm feet? Extra credit.

Here are a few more Israel-specific tips we learned from last year:

  • Now – like, right now – turn on your yunkers (centrally-heated radiators), if you have them, even on low… it will warm your home enough that you will definitely feel a difference if (when) the power goes out.
  • Keep your cell phone charging whenever you have power for the times that you won’t. Note, 3G will probably go too.
  • Similarly, keep your laptop charged so you can use it as a backup charging station for your phone.
  • Close your trisim (hard window shades), at least overnight, to keep warmth in.
  • Prep alternative methods of cooking – if you don’t have a gas stove, consider getting a gaziya/prepping yours with a full gas balloon. One reason, really: coffee.

What other things you need to have on hand, in order of importance:

  • Milk
  • Chocolate
  • Milk
  • Gloves, boots, hats
  • Plastic bags and rubber bands
  • Flashlights, batteries
  • Candles, matches
  • Fun neighbors
  • Entertainment
  • BAKING SUPPLIES. That should have been after milk. (Sorry, neighbors).

What you need to NOT DO AT ALL COSTS:

  • Pour boiling water (or water of any kind) on the ice in your driveway/street/shared outdoor spaces.
  • I will repeat that: DO NOT POUR WATER ON ICE TO MELT IT.
  • Do. Not. Pour. Hot. Water. On. Ice. To. Melt. It.

Enjoy it! We’re pumped. Have fun. Share your pics. Rub it in your Tel Aviv friends’ faces.

And remember, neighbors: snow responsibly.

10 Ways Living in Israel is Not What You Think: vote for my Expats Awards entry!

blog-award-2013-entry-150There are a million ways living in Israel is just not what you may have thought… I chose 10 of those and made them my entry for the Expat Blog Awards!

10 Ways Living in Israel is Not What You Think

I’m the only entry from Israel, so LET’S GET LOUD!

Like? Vote! Leave a comment at the bottom of the entry. Comments must be authentic, which means 10+ words. Also, use the share buttons above the comment section to spread the word – those also count. We’ve got till Friday, Dec 20.

And if you have even more ways, feel free to leave those here or there!

P.S. Here are some photo hints as to what my top 10 are…


Ready? Get over there and comment! 

Snow in Tzur Hadassah: Who said this isn’t Switzerland? [PHOTOS]

There’s this inside joke here… sometime a couple years ago they started hanging hopeful signs around garbage points in Tzur Hadassah: If no one made it dirty, this could be like Switzerland. 

After four days of heavy snow, warm clothes, sledding, and beautiful views… Well, I’d have to say we came pretty freakin close for the Middle East.

[More photos from day 1-3 here]

The view from my ‘front yard’ – only last week it was cleared of the forest to make way for new construction (sigh). So it allowed a whole new snow-filled view:

Soon I found the Yetti…

A long long time ago… in another life… I got a free giant boogie board at a tech conference (?!). Never touched it… until now.

The whole view… The hills are Gush Etzion, facing Neve Daniel area. The buildings are Beitar Illit. The snow is ours. (Click to enlarge)

The supermarket was rightfully bare this morning. And then the Tnuva truck pulled up. Never was so excited to see a Tnuva truck…

Later we went out and surveyed some local damage – seems every other tree took a toll. Our garbage collection area collapsed. And… so did our building, actually.

Another new view… sun setting and moon rising over the outlook towards Beitar Illit. (Click to enlarge)

Climbed up the nature walk to check out, in Koala’s words, the ‘sun rainbow.’

 Hang in there, Tzur Hadassah, European snow resort town. (Click to enlarge)


Day 5, morning: Nope, it’s not all a dream.


Wishing the snowman farewell…

More photos!


Tzur Hadassah under snow part 2: OMG ISRAEL SNOWPOCALYPSE 2013 edition

TWO memorable snowstorms in one year? Welcome to the Jerusalem Hills!

It started on Thursday morning at around 7am… All eyes on Neve Daniel… When news arrives from Gush Etzion that snow has arrived, we know it’s only a matter of time.

So no gan Thursday and it was quickly canceled in advance for Friday. Real snow days, just like in my North American childhood. Even if it’s about 1-2 feet less.

Snow… freezing… blackout… no heating… more snow… N-n-new York, is that you?

Went for walk Thursday night… Relived the upstate New York university snow days.

Friday at around 1:30am the blackout hit… Bebe came into my room at 3am to tell me her room was scary. I told her to go back to bed and then after a few tries walked her back to bed to discover the lights were out. Then I felt really bad. “I’m so sorry! Your room is really scary!”

The blackout lasted 12 hours, so no heating until around 2pm on Friday. No matter, we were outside anyway…

Then the kids fell off the boogie board sled and we laughed and laughed.

The only issue was the fridge. So we relocated the milk.

And then relocated some more. Tasty, tasty windowsill kitchen.

And then relocated the freezer, too. Can you spot the meat NOT defrosting?

By last night, it was snowing hard again. They had predicted an even worse storm over Shabbat – and we woke up to double snow or more. Throughout the day it continued, on and off. We ventured out to a beautiful snow country view… white skies, white ground, the occasional white 4×4 showing off…

I’m going to relive today’s memory of trudging through crunchy snow with my kid, giant snowflakes falling in our faces, knowing that I need not be concerned my 50% North American kids wouldn’t know winter…

After Shabbat, here’s what was left – plus plenty of potential black ice:

It’s Saturday night, end of snow day #3. No gan tomorrow, either. We’re going to eat cupcakes, sit on the snowy porch, and enjoy the snow-filled Tzur Hadassah view.

Apparently this is the worst storm on record in Israel, and possibly the worst in modern Israeli history. We were lucky with a relatively warm home, plenty of food, and a fun spirit about it all. We’ve had four fatalities over the last couple days. 13,000 homes in Jerusalem went without power over Shabbat, and other towns in our area went without electricity since Thursday night. Roads into our area and Jerusalem were blocked; cars were stranded at Jerusalem’s entrance. Hard rain, freezing cold and hail took over the center and there was more snow up north. Gaza experienced major flooding. Syrian refugees were hit with more struggle. Egypt saw its first snow in 112 years. King Abdullah of Jordan played in the snow.

One last thing – trying not to lose my faith in basic high school science education here. The huz was out starting the cars to save the battery and spotted a neighbor hosing down the road. With water. He told the neighbor to stop – he’s just making ice. He replied, “There’s already ice, I’m loosening it.” A million facepalms descended from the heavens. I’m going to start teaching chemistry to Israeli 5-year-olds.

I’m pretty sure if John Kerry wants to be useful in the Middle East, the former Massachusetts senator would teach us all how to handle true wintery weather.

It ain’t over till the black ice melts.

XTREME WEATHER Middle East edition! Read more about it.

Israeli snow 2013: Tzur Hadassah makes for an adorable snow town.

If you don’t live in or near the greater Jerusalem area, if you don’t follow a resident of aforementioned region on some sort of social media channel, then you’re one of the very few who didn’t hear that today was a two-decade record for snowfall and a very active snow day (across the Middle East, apparently).

It’s one of the perks of moving to Tzur Hadassah, didn’t you know? You’re within the snow zone.

This morning was like a TV show: I finally got out of bed after 30 minutes of Koala in my ear. I staggered into the hall without my glasses on and noticed the window was a white blur. I stumbled back to check it out with glasses and lo and behold I was next calling for everyone to come see what I saw:

We Israelis are teased year after year… “Maybe there will really be snow this winter…” “They’re saying snow for sure…” “Sometime in February, they think…”

And occasionally, we get lucky. This year we got really lucky.

Tzur Hadassah covered in white

As the appointed snow expert in my household (I live with two sabras and an Aussie), I helped everyone get rugged up to play. When Koala and I got to the outside door, he said – definitely mimicking someone – “Now this is New York!”

Koala in the snow.

Took a little bit of acclimating and we had to be snownerds and put socks on Bebe’s hands for lack of gloves.

I’m surprised at how many sabras seem to be experts at building bubot sheleg considering it’s a once-in-a-while pastime…

It was nice to see all those winter-dogs finally get their due.

Anyway, it’s fair to say Tzur Hadassah wears snow well.

Almost like a cute little European snow town.

Tzur Hadassah wearing snow and sun.

I don’t know what the final tally was at the snowfall’s height; some say 15cm, others claim 20cm or more in Jerusalem… In the morning before the peak we were at nearly 10cm.

And the day is melting away and so is the snow. It’s not really sustainable with the off and on rain and sunny forecast for tomorrow.

Totally ok… these Tzur Hadassian kids desperately need to go back to gan.