Jerusalem blanketed by snow

Young Israelis playing in the snow, with the snowy Jerusalem neighborhood Mishkenot Sha’ananim in the background, Jan. 10, 2013. (Nati Shohat/Flash90/JTA) 

By Linda Gradstein/The Media Line

Residents of the Holy City woke up to a blanket of white as some six inches of snow fell overnight, the largest snowfall since 1992. Schools were cancelled, businesses closed and joyful children bundled up to play in the cold white stuff many had never seen or enjoyed.

“It’s really fun because you can jump in it and not get hurt,” a pink-cheeked Shalom Hammer-Kosoy, 8, told The Media Line after warning his friends not to throw snowballs at his face. “I remember we had snow once before, but I was really little and didn’t like snow then.”


His friend Yotam Rothberg, also 8, urged him to keep playing in the six inches of snow that had accumulated. “There’s no school and I’m having a snowball fight with my friends,” he said with a big grin. “This is the first time I’ve seen so much snow.”

Municipal officials urged the city’s 760,000 residents to stay off the treacherous roads. In addition to the school closings, offices followed suit and for a time, the main entrance to the capital was impassable, highways leading to the city non-functional.

“The municipality and the police are coordinating their response to the weather,” police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told The Media Line. “Right now the city is basically shut down. Ambulances have been equipped with chains on their tires and so far we have no reports of any emergencies.”

For the adults, it was an opportunity to enjoy a day-off. Adina Issachar, a personal trainer, said that at least six of her clients called her wanting to see if they could still train with her. One even walked her one-year-old son over to his daycare center, only to find it closed. “I’m losing so much money today — but I don’t care,” she told The Media Line. “I’m lying in bed watching ‘Homeland.’ It’s so much fun.”

Her husband Yoram, a contractor, also had the day off. He said he went to synagogue at 6 a.m. and was surprised to find 15 people there. “It was beautiful outside and so romantic,” he said. “But the snow also does a lot of damage.”

The snow came after several days of heavy rain pounded all of Israel in the worst storm in a decade. Rescue workers managed to save Israeli soldiers after the bus they were riding in was swept into a flooded stream in the Negev desert in the southern part of the country.

On Tuesday, two Palestinian women were killed in the West Bank when their car was swept away by flood waters. Their bodies were discovered on Wednesday. An elderly woman in Hebron was killed when a gas heater caught fire in her home.

Israeli authorities are estimating the damage caused by the storm throughout the country at more than $250 million, not including lost productivity. But with the snow still on the ground and snowmen appearing throughout the city, Jerusalemites, at least, don’t seem to care. The children hope the snow will last a few days and school will stay closed. Their parents, on the other hand, might feel differently.