When you live in Israel and come from Florida, snow is not something you expect to see very often, if ever. Personally, I first saw snow when I was in college. I may have been born in Detroit, but moved before I was even 6 months old so as a baby I experienced it probably.
I didn’t want my kids to wait that long, so I promised them last year we would go play in the snow. Last year was a bit quiet on the snow front, timing, of course, is everything and it did not work out.
This year was going to be different, this time I said we would go to the only place guaranteed to have snow, Mount Hermon. The kids had an inkling but I did not confirm it until the start of Hanukkah that we would go.
I am pretty sure they figured it would not happen or it would not be that big of a deal. They also have no idea of real cold, so this would be enlightening to them. And maybe, just maybe, teach them when we, their parents, tell them it is cold and wear a jacket, scarf, boots, hat, gloves they should listen to us.
On the 4th morning of Hanukkah I woke up at 6am to get the kids ready to leave by 7. Our recently bar mitzvah son and I had to daven first and eventually we headed out after breakfast of chocolate milk in bags, gathering extra clothing, food and drinks. I should point out that my wife stayed home to cook for our shabbat guests and enjoy the quiet.
I am not much of a planner for trips, I like to see what I find along the way so I told Waze to get us to Mount Hermon and off we headed from Rehovot in what Waze said would be a 3 hour ride.
Route 6 up to Yokneam and then eastward towards Tiberias. Along the way we stopped for some donuts and gum, the altitude was bothering the kids a bit. We saw thick fog in the valleys and roads along the way. And very little traffic for a holiday week. And we had beautiful weather, no rain, just sun all day long.
Waze said we should go around Tiberias, but with only 10 km to get there, I thought I should show the kids the Kinneret, Sea of Galilee, and stop at a few things in Tiberias.
Unfortunately, the grave sites for the Rambam was under construction as was the tomb of the Matriarchs. With 2 daughters I wanted them to realize there are more women in our history and country than just the ones in Hebron and Kever Rachel to think about. We also tried to visit the Dona Gracia Hotel where they have a whole history of this great woman, but they were not letting people walk around the hotel for another hour. Huge bummer as my wife and I had been there previously and it is a very well done exhibit.
Thus we drove up the Kinneret, stopped for some pictures and p[icked up Waze again to see we had only taken a slight detour. After home schooling our kids in the states, a little history lesson about Tiberias and Nazareth and some comparative religion discussions we found our way heading around the north end of the Kinneret. Eventually, you pass a landmark that says one word on it, Golan.
And that, of course, started another lesson for them while the old churches and buildings, not to mention the cows, sheep, horses and birds kept them entertained. Well for a few minutes, then back to their screens.I think we scared the cows blasting “Welcome to the Jungle” but hey the kids wanted to have fun, so be it.
You pass a few army bases along the way, it is the Golan after all, and a twisty turning road to get to the mountain. We eventually saw some snow topped mountains(not ours) and snow on the ground which the kids wanted to go play in but I explained that is not “good” snow for that purpose. I think they thought I was waiting for better and it would not come and this was a wasted chance, how wrong they were.
We passed through the Hermon resort area as we headed up the mountain. We started to see more snow and some plowing of snow and then we hit it. Traffic. Waiting to get into the parking lot for the Hermon.
For those not from Israel, I need to explain something. Israeli’s will drive someplace to see and play with snow, just park any place they want on the road and get out, do whatever, take some photos, then get back in their car and go home. On a mountain road which is barely one lane in each direction, we encountered this in full force, no wonder we had traffic like trying to get into Walt Disney World.
At this point, we really were not moving even an inch, I suggested the kids go outside and play in the snow, take some pictures and then get back in the car. It would give them a chance to experience the cold, the texture and perhaps the depth of the snow. After their Shehecheyanu experience, they got back in the car and were now even more excited.
I think my eldest cried she was so happy. Yes, the one in short sleeves. For those who knew me way back when, I used to ski in a t-shirt. Guess that gene got passed to at least one kid. I should add, at this point my son thanked me for the best day out..and we hadn’t done anything yet! Seeing snow for the first time really is magical. No bracha other than Shehecheyanu and awe of the beauty in the world.
When we finally almost get through the parking line, a cloud had descended on us and covered the area. My pictures really don’t compare to seeing it live but you get the idea.
Once inside the parking lot, you take a bus up to the top and then, because skiing was not open yet, you can
sled or do the ski extreme which is like a roller coaster framed ride through part of the mountain.
Of course the best thing about fresh powder snow, it snowed the day before we went up, is what you can do with it. The snow was at least 2 feet deep if not more in some parts. I had to save my youngest from a “snow hole”.
Even big kids can have some fun where you find nice virgin snow, click on the link to see what I mean.
And so, call it a bucket list item, a present, fun day out or just a vacation day, we had a great time at the Hermon. My kids got to see and experience snow\, but sadly not skiing or snowboarding, so we will be back.
Our day wasn’t finished yet, we left there after a few hours and headed to Rosh Hanikra and the grotto, which is another story. From the east most Lake Kinneret to the Mediterranean Sea we drove along the the top of the country, passing through Kiryat Shemona and so many other sights and places, we will have to go back and see them all on a different trip.
Today we hit the borders of Lebanon and Syria and back to Rehovot all in one day and home by 8:30pm. So much to see and do in such a small country. What are you waiting for?
I will leave you with Naftali Bennet’s video he did the day after we were there where he puts it all in perspective, follow the link to watch him explain how 5 minutes away is Syria and ski season is open and we are not leaving the Golan.