Wind and rain storms are striking above and across Israel, leaving uprooted trees, injured pedestrians, damaged property and a flooded shopping mall in their wake. As is often the case, all eyes are fixed on Jerusalem. But this time it’s not about politics or inter-societal conflicts. This time Israelis are looking in eager anticipation towards forecasts of heavy snows that just may envelop their capital city.
No matter who’s singing, remakes of the classic “Let It Snow” take us to distant places, far from traffic jams, crowded marketplaces and impatient interpersonal exchanges. Once we’re removed from our immediate surroundings we can begin to imagine a renewed ancient city, one day to be known not for its strife but for its tranquility. But as the popular holiday season melody reminds us, we don’t need to go far to reach a lofty goal. And we don’t need to rush to tomorrow in order to make the most of today:
Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we’ve no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
True – fireplaces are unheard of in Israel, Jerusalem has no Rockefeller Center ice skating rink where jingles are played outdoors, and the holiday spirit that this song conjures up is wholly lost on the Holy City. But there’s something about a snow-day that resonates with Jerusalemites. Perhaps more than a stay-home excuse, a snow-covered Jerusalem is a desperately needed opportunity.
What would happen if Jerusalem’s business districts would call it a day, and countless CEO’s would head home to spend time with their children. What might some quality time today, do for their family’s tomorrow? What if couples could synchronize their otherwise scattered lifestyles and sit down for an hour or two by a quiet fire – or by the hot-air-blowing-apparatus in their living rooms with the memorable ambiance of their rickety plastic window shades (trissim) echoing off their stone floors. What might that do for their relationship?
What if the diplomats followed the economic sector’s lead. What if visiting political dignitaries would choose to save face, avoid failed attempts at imposing empty threats on an Israel determined to survive, and spend the day in their upscale hotels while adding a few more meals to their embassy’s international dining tab. It may not bring economic stability to their respective countries, but what could? Either way, if they take the day off it certainly will not hinder Israel’s prospects for a lasting peace. If anything, it can only help.
Yes, ideologues will not be kept from reaching their stomping grounds, but cold weather attire could make a meaningful difference. What if the Women of the Wall would wear raincoats over their prayer shawls and Jews who ascend the Temple Mount would articulate prayers from behind scarves and IDF-issue neck warmers. They may not be able to affect change beyond themselves, but they would be assured that their outwardly imperceptible actions would be inwardly genuine and sincere.
What if election billboards went unseen, muted by a silent snow that would hear no evil and see no evil. What if those who throw rocks in a glass city resort to snowballs in a city covered in white. What might that lead to? Intercultural dialogue? Maybe. Innocent childish laughter? Possibly. Unwarranted violence? Unlikely.
Everyone has their idea of what Jerusalem should look and feel like. But maybe it’s time to let Jerusalem freeze over so that it can be enjoyed for what it is, without pushing it to what we want it to become.
Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne wrote “Let It Snow” on a hot summer’s day in Hollywood, California – but they were on to something. Today, nearly seven decades later, the song is a timeless winter classic that’s seasonally re-recorded by the biggest names in entertainment. Besides its comforting, gentle, hopeful tone, it may be its closing stanza that has everyone mesmerized:
The fire is slowly dying,
And, my dear, we’re still good-bying,
But as long as you love me so,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
Quiet snow on the exterior gives us an opportunity to cultivate who and what we are on the inside. An escape from our daily routines is a chance to look at the world from a different angle, and to paint a different picture on its white canvas. Israel needs an opportunity to savor the moment, to grab hold of lingering emotions and make the most of its inherent home-oriented disposition. Maybe this storm is the chance we’ve been waiting for.
So, for Jerusalem’s residents, visitors and friends, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”.