Warnings from the State to prepare for a large storm were non-existent. No one was prepared to receive two feet of snow. No one made sure to stock up on the basics: food, gas, water. No one thought to make sure all the laundry and dishes were done. Images found Below I live in Eli. A small community in the Binyamin region located between Shilo and the city of Ariel. Within our community there are numerous neighborhoods, ours Nof Harim, or “Mountain View”. A population of less than 60 families, we are a close knit community. Perhaps it’s the 180 some odd children who bring us together. Here in Nof Harim is where we were cut off from power, water and the world- starting with the snowfall of Thursday night. Come Friday, even if we were able to leave we all would have stayed; power outages are nothing new before and it was likely all would return to normal within hours. So we prepared for Shabbat using only the gas stove range. Special Chulent ingredient: snow. (note: when our power goes out, so does the pump which brings water up to us) After 2 full days of being immobile without any water, heat and electricity, just about all of the 60 families of the neighbourhood decided Sunday morning that they would look for alternative places to stay until things were back to normal – because at that point news had broken that there were upwards to 40,000 homes cut off. The electric company was predicting it would take days for things to go back to normal. We decided to stay. In the meantime, we were melting snow to drink, wash hands, and fill up the toilets. Do you know how much snow you need to shovel in order to flush one toilet just one time? I do- about 2 full laundry baskets full. I also know how long it takes to melt that snow in a home where the temperature is below freezing…about 30 minutes. To melt water at night, in order to preserve gas, we would prop up pots full of snow over our tea lights.
Keep in mind that we also did not have any telephone, cell phone, or internet connections. We had no idea what was going on. Little did we know was that the majority of homes that were initially without power had already gotten it back. Later I found out that a debate was going on as to why these shortages happened to begin with. People were upset, rightfully so.. but keep in mind that we still had two more days without power to go. As a husband and father of four children, I realized I had the opportunity to turn this unusual, uncomfortable situation into the most memorable experience of my children’s lives. Something they would remember forever. We took out our Menorah just weeks after putting it away and used it, again, to illuminate our home. We sang, danced, placed charades…we did what people used to do together- before internet and TV; we actually had really amazing interactions with each other. With each nightfall the temperatures plummeted again. Our two older girls- aged 7 & 5- jumped into the same bed, combining their blankets, which totaled 6. They formed a cocoon and kept warm. My son, who is 4, went to bed wearing 4 layers plus two bathrobes, one an adult size. And lastly- our 2 year old daughter went to bed wearing a snowsuit – over 6 or 7 other layers. At bedtime, which was much earlier than usual- being that we went to bed when the winter sun went down, was a time of telling stories and blowing hot air on the backs of the kids necks to get warm. Each morning after the storm we packed our stomachs full of hot oatmeal and be off to hike through the snow. The whole neighborhood was like a winter wonderland. Almost 2 feet of snow and a view to take your breath away. By day three, we were hitting our stride. I went out more than 40 times to collect snow for drinking, washing, and filling the toilets. Anything we had to cook went on the stove top.We kept the leftovers outside, in the snow. We played games, went on hikes, told stories, and I answered more than 1000 questions from my curious children. How cold were we? What was going on with work? What was happening politically? I am not sure, but I didn’t care either. Phone was out. internet out. No movies before bed. No Facebook. No getting lost in the internet. The absence of all these things let me experience something else during this storm, for me, this was the essence of life, being connected to what was real and tangible. Family, nature, mountain air… So as the two executives from the Electric company were fired for staying on vacation in Eilat while I was “suffering”, I can say that I wouldn’t have traded this experience – not to have been there next to them by the pool sipping on a cocktail. Not only was this an amazing learning experience for myself, but for my family as well. What better way to teach your children how to be self-reliant than to have “everything” taken away. They realized how much one really has when all the basic services we’ve learned to rely on are gone. Here are some more pictures for you to view….and see why I was not in a rush to leave.