When you come from NYC, where winter means bitter cold, snow, sleet and ice, it is a wonderful thing experience winter in Israel. We learn as children that our winter is a kind of death - a time of losing leaves and hibernation. And so it’s hard to understand how welcome winter is in Israel. For Israelis, winter rains water a generally parched desert landscape and bring life and blessing to the earth.
Unfortunately, Israel is also a land without proper drainage or gutters – so rare is rain in the region. In the cities, after hard rainfalls, rivers of water often flow through the streets. When it snows in Jerusalem, as it often does these days, the world comes to a halt.
But not this year was a doozie! See the videos below:
Rain at the Wall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjy0iKSkyQA
Jerusalem Ben Yehuda Street : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iW5z4Ed__o
Thankfully I knew just how cold and wet it can get in the winter. I had a very bad experience six years ago when I went totally unprepared for the six inches of snow in Jerusalem and driving rain in Tel Aviv. This time I had waterproof boots, lots of warm layering clothes and a rain jacket to put over my down coat.
Israelis take it all in stride! They know what all that water produces. They know how it fills the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. They know how it ensures abundant crops and fields of grass for cows and sheep.
Honestly – I never so such verdant grass in Israel. Miles of green where I had only ever seen yellow or brown. Small red poppies pop up in groves and forests. Rows of newly planted wheat dot the landscape.
In so many Israeli pop songs, the importance of rain falling becomes a metaphor for the blessing and goodness in life. Take the song “Hakol L’tova – “All for Good” by Static and Ben El Tavori:
כשעננים מכסים ת'שמיים, וכל האור של השמש כבה
היא יוצאת בלי לסגור את דלת הבית, ומחכה לגשם
"Like clouds that cover the heavens and all the light of the sun turns off - She leaves without closing the door to the house, and awaits the rain that falls on us for goodness".