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Things that are weird in Israel #13: Winter


Welcome to winter in Israel!  I have to start by saying that some places here are warmer than others.  Where we live, we don’t really get “winter” at all.  Other parts, like Yerushalayim, are significantly colder, and may actually get snow. 

I don’t think it’s ever snowed here (but it probably has, in some freakish event before the modern State of Israel).

That said, winter stops Israelis in their tracks like nothing else.  Literally nothing else.  In the face of war and terrorism, Israel is undaunted.  In the face of two inches of snow, nothing gets through.

“Getting ready for snow!!!!” shouted the headline in last Friday’s paper.  Okay, I’ve added the exclamation points.   “This picture, from the blizzard of last winter, may repeat itself around the middle of next week.  Forecasters:  “Expect a meaningful winter system.”  Weekend:  cold and rainy.”

“Is snow on its way to Jerusalem?” the article begins, tantalizingly. 

This being the first full week of January, it goes on to say that the year began with a “significant” lowering of temperatures, but – get this – the ultimate lowness will be around the middle of the week, on Wednesday, with “a real chance of snow” (“בסיכוי של ממש לשלג ”) in Yerushalayim.

Here’s how the article breaks down.  I’ve taken the liberty of translating the gist of each column.  Remember, this is Hebrew, so it reads from right to left.


As I read this – all 4 columns of it! – I couldn’t help but wonder what it would look like if any of Toronto’s newspapers (even a free one) were to dedicate half a page to what is, when it comes down to it, pretty routine winter weather.

True, it might have been a slow news day – those happen, even in Israel.  The article beneath the “there may be snow” piece was all about some roaming rhinoceroses that escaped from a safari.

But that’s the thing about winter in Israel.  It totally stops Israelis in their tracks.  It’s like it takes them by surprise, every single time.  Like I said, we live in a place where winter doesn’t really happen at all. 

It does get cool and damp (I’m wearing a sweatshirt as I write this, and feel like I really ought to either put on another layer or turn on the heat for the first time this season…), but never miserably so.  At least compared to where we come from. 

Winter here seems like more a fashion opportunity – jackets!  scarves!  ear muffs! boots!  – that’s over before it really begins than like an actual thing that fully unfolds.

But Israelis take it seriously nonetheless.  Which might be funnier if Naomi Rivka hadn’t had 2 field trips cancelled because of rain.  Not because it was actually raining, you understand, but ahead of time – because there was a possibility of rain.  If they did that in Toronto, nobody would go anywhere.  Ever.

And if they printed newspaper articles about the weather… nothing else would make it into the paper.

Wherever you are, keep warm, keep dry, and keep reading! :-)


(My daughter’s class play was cancelled on Friday “due to weather,” more likely referring to the fact that half the class stayed home for 3 days “due to weather.”  They also, on Friday, served hot tea in the boys’ school and hot soup in the girls’ school “to warm their hearts.”  Anytime you start thinking Israelis are a hardy and tough people, think again… at least when it comes to rain.)


Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


  1. I could not stop laughing. It is funny how nuts Israelis get over the weather. Did you read : Snow Scam?

    1. Reading it now. And I've added a postscript... about how the "weather" ended up affecting us here in the Krayot. And the hot tea they served the kids to console them. :-)


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