The snow camp and the no camp

There are two camps popular in Israel today – the first is all about snow and rain. Israel is being pelted with what is being called the storm of the century by some. And for a country that doesn’t see rain for the better part of 8 months a year, a four-five day storm is huge. The news is filled with it; Israelis on Facebook are posting pictures and videos, traveling into Jerusalem, into the snow – can you imagine?

All over radio, newspapers and television – the lead stories are about how many millimeters fell in each city; how many car accidents, trees down, people stranded, the level of the Sea of Galilee, and what is to come tomorrow.

All this focus is driving the second camp crazy. One person wrote – it isn’t the moon landing, it’s just SNOW. Another wrote, “people, it has rained in Israel before you know!”

The second camp is exactly about that last part – people wondering what the big deal is. Why are people so obsessed with it – and more. What is this whole thing about? One editor wrote that she couldn’t believe the writer of one article had explained what sleet was! She removed that section feeling everyone would know and really, this was all just ridiculous. Several people threatened all sorts of dire things if they heard one more measurement or saw one more person post a picture of themselves smiling in the snow.

So, first I’ll be honest and say that I am firmly in the first camp – for me, it is all wonderful. I went into Jerusalem today for the briefest of times – I made it all the way to the outside of my office building and agreed with my son as I stood glancing across the street…and down the block at the snow coming down hard. It was time to go home.

jerusalemtrainsnowI spent much of the long and frustrating trip home – marveling at the weather, at the white, at the snow. I was enthralled and the only reason why I wasn’t completely embarrassed by myself was because each time I heard that Andriod-camera clicking sound from my phone… I heard another one somewhere else on the train. I wasn’t the only one who stood near the train doors so that I could quickly open them and take another picture.

I hear the complaints that it’s all too much and honestly, grow up, Israel – it’s just snow! But you know what – it is part of what I love about this country. We can be mature like all those other nations; we can be modern and all grown up…but we can also turn inwards and just return to the most basic of realities. We count the snow flakes; we measure the rain. We never forget that each drop is a blessing; each flake an unexpected miracle.

There are other unique elements of this country that I see all the time. One obvious indication becomes readily apparent if you listen to the news – almost every traffic-related death makes the news. Any serious or unusual traffic accident will be reported in many countries – here, the focus is on the people involved and what happened to them.jerusalemjaffasnow1

Every time a soldier is injured or, God forbid, worse…it makes the news. In America, the news will report that two soldiers were wounded or killed somewhere. In Israel, we’ll not only hear the numbers, we’ll learn their names, where they are from. We’ll know how many siblings they have, if they had a girlfriend. We’ll know what they dreamed of being and so much more.

Do you know how many people were killed in your city or country today? Yes, every murder makes the news too. Seriously – all of them – crime related; accidents at work; someone hit by a car or train. If a woman dies in childbirth – thankfully, something unusual in Israel, it will make on the radio and more.

For all that we seem to dominate most UN deliberations, we know the truth – we’re a tiny country, a tiny land, and we are so connected. The same part that marvels at the weather and stops everything when we hear a soldier has been hurt – is the part of us that forces us to release over 1,000 terrorists for one young man.

That’s what I want to tell my friends in the second camp. Stick with us – it’s all part of the whole and you can’t change any of it because that is the fundamental nature of Israel and Israelis.

We care more than you can imagine – about each other, about our country…about even the most mundane. We are enthralled by our country – and even by the weather, at times.

So, it snowed in Jerusalem – and as I huddled waiting for the bus that never came – not one of the 70 people who were there with me complained about the weather. They were upset with the bus company; wondered why the city of Jerusalem hadn’t canceled schools. But not one said anything about the cold snow that filled the skies all around us while we attempted to find shelter right there out in the open.jerusalemoldcitysnow

Some said they were cold – but mostly it was said with a smile. One debated whether to drink coffee or tea first, or take a hot shower; another was on the phone convincing his wife that he’d find a way to get home.

So – here in Israel, while the world is talking about whatever…we are obsessed with the fact that at this very minute, the rivers are bursting, the springs rising up. The land is flowing; the snow falling.

Perhaps those in the second camp think they are the realists – but it was David Ben Gurion who long ago summed up Israel best. To be a realist in Israel, he explained, you have to believe in miracles. Yesterday and tomorrow, we are watching the miracles cover the land – from all the way north in the Golan Heights, even as far south as Arad…Israel’s are smiling at the rain and the snow because we know each drop is a blessing, a promise to the land and to us.when you elevate the mundane to the level of miracles, you have the honor of living a charmed life, a simple life in which life’s greatest pleasures can be easily granted by some falling temperatures and some white precipitation.

About the Author
Paula R. Stern is CEO of WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel. Her personal blog, A Soldier's Mother, has been running for more than 5 years. She lives in Maale Adumim with her husband and children, a dog, too many birds, and a desire to write her thoughts and dream of a trip to Italy, Scotland, and beyond.