Shaanan Scherer

It’s Snowing Israel in Canada!

On November 14, 2023, 290 000 Jews gathered together in Washington DC in support of Israel. It was the largest gathering of Jews in US history. I traveled from Toronto to the rally with the Jewish school I teach at and it was truly an inspirational and memorable event. It was an incredible experience to sing Hatikvah and other Jewish songs with over a quarter of a million people, to hear from Jewish heroes and American politicians demonstrating their support for Israel and to be among so many proud Zionists. I was looking forward to the Canadian version that took place on December 4, though I knew it would be on a much smaller scale and have much worse weather. Little did I know that I would be experiencing a modern day Hanukkah miracle.

All of these photos were taken by my phone or my friends. No one used photoshop. These are real snowflakes.

Canada has the third largest Diaspora Jewish community in the world. The Canadian Jewish community has been successful in its over 250 year history in balancing a Jewish traditional lifestyle while integrating among our non Jewish neighbours. Canada is known internationally for having warm people and cold weather. We are known for our harsh winters of freezing temperatures and lots and lots of snow.

I traveled on a bus with other staff and students from my school. When we left Toronto, there was no snow. As we traveled over four hours to Ottawa the scenery became more and more white. Ottawa had a snow storm the night before and was covered in beautiful fresh snow. It was the first major snowfall of the year which is always as pretty as a picture.

All of these photos were taken by my phone or my friends. No one used photoshop. These are real snowflakes.

We arrived in front of Canada’s Parliament building and were among twenty thousand other Jews and supporters of Israel. The Canadian government has recently angered Israeli politicians over several statements condemning the IDF’s actions in Gaza while falsely not putting the blame of this war on Hamas. Canadian Jews have been victims to an unprecedented rise in antisemitism since October 7. There have been gunshots at yeshivot, firebombs at shuls, bomb threats in schools, graffiti at Jewish shops, posters of those kidnapped destroyed and many other acts of Jew hatred as also occurring worldwide. The Jewish communities of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and others were there to put more pressure on the government to better understand the Israel Hamas War. This was the largest gathering of Jews in Canada’s history. We gathered to condemn antisemitism in Canada, Hamas’ atrocities in Israel, to show our support for the IDF and to pressure our government to help bring the hostages home.

As we stood outdoors listening to one speaker after the other we noticed that it started to snow. I overheard other people talking behind my back about how nice the snowflakes were but didn’t yet understand what they were saying.  “Since when do Canadians admire snowflakes? It’s not the first time any of us have seen snow,” I thought. Then I noticed myself that many were in the perfect shape of the Star of David. I started taking pictures of a few on other peoples hats, shoulders, hair as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I was looking at snow flakes in the shape of the most popular Jewish symbol and the image for the flag of Israel. I spoke with strangers standing next to me to get some assurance I wasn’t seeing things. They assured me that they too, were in awe of this marvel.

As the rally continued, more and more people were taking pictures, videos and talking about the weather being a clear act of God. Some were joking about how Jews control space lasers and Star of David snowflakes. Others were saying that this is a never seen before occurrence for them, a modern day Hanukkah miracle. Everyone who noticed the abundance of Israel Snow during the Israel rally was in awe at this miracle. As a Canadian, I have been through hundreds, maybe thousands of snowfalls and I have never in my life seen this before. The one time I and 20,000 other Jews experienced an abundance of Star of David snowflakes happens to be at the largest pro Israel rally in Canada’s history. This is no small coincidence!

All of these photos were taken by my phone or my friends. No one used photoshop. These are real snowflakes.

When the story of Hanukah occurred, the Maccabees didn’t need the miracle of the oil. They needed the military victory over the Greeks. The oil supernaturally lasting for eight days was seen as a sign from God. God was very much hidden as Hellenism and Paganism was rampant and the light of Torah was darkened for some time. The Oil Miracle took place on the 25th of Kislev, 164 BCE. It was symbolic that in the Temple in Jerusalem, Israel’s eternal capital the light of the Menorah will shine bright and carry on for many generations to come.

All of these photos were taken by my phone or my friends. No one used photoshop. These are real snowflakes.

On December 4, 2023 in front of the Parliament building in Canada’s capital, the Jews at the rally did not need it to snow Stars of David. What is needed is victory over Hamas and our soldiers and the hostages to return home safely. The Oil Miracle of Hanukkah and the Israel Snow miracle of Canada’s Israel rally are both signs from God. They are God’s way of encouraging the Jewish people that He stands with us. Just like the Maccabees defeated the Greeks and Judaism prevailed, so too will Zionists today defeat our enemies and continue to carry the light of Jewish values all rooted in our Torah.

Happy Hanukkah! נס גדול היה פה, שעשה ניסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה

Am Yisrael Chai!

All of these photos were taken by my phone or my friends. No one used photoshop. These are real snowflakes.
About the Author
Rabbi Shaanan Scherer currently lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and 5 children. After spending over a decade living and learning in Israel, Shaanan brings his Israel experience to both his classroom and on his child- centered Israel tours that he guides during winter and summer breaks.