Sunday, February 03, 2008

Snow in the Gush ... and the Livin' is Easy

So, last week, we had our heaviest snowfall in years. The Gush is 100 metres above Jerusalem and is open countryside and hence much colder than J-lem. The snow fell on Tuesday night and continued pretty much until Thursday morning. But the amazing thing for anyone who doesn't live here, is that when it snows, everything stops. They don't plow the roads (except main roads), no-one goes to work, school is cancelled, and everyone just hangs out at home!

It is really quite the most calm and relaxed feeling knowing that one has nowhere to go. shul starts at 8:00 and the last minyan is at 10:00 or so. Everyone is calm. The kids were so happy - and relaxed - just reading, playing in the snow, watching some TV and just - relaxing. In Israel, where we don't get a Sunday, it was really a welcome holiday.

But on the other hand, I have never quite understood why everyone simply accepts the fact that we are well and truly stuck. We are only 15 minutes from Jerusalem! I recall in 1992 going to Jerusalem for the evening and being unable to return for 3 days due to the snow. (Luckily I had my tefillin with me that time... but I didn't have a change of clothes. Don't ask!) Well to be fair - while the snow is coming down, it is treacherous to drive. It is pretty impossible to keep 10 km of road clear of ice and snow. But it stopped snowing on Thursday at 9 a.m. They didn't plow our street until 5 p.m.! It always seems that nobody is in any particular hurry for the snow to be over. Now, I know that we are a small village of 700 families, but doesn't anyone have work to do?

A couple of years back, after it had snowed, I really wanted to get somewhere and they were really taking their time with the snow plow. I called the local Moetza (town council/municipality) to complain and request that my street be cleared. I got through to the main man in charge, and gave him a well rehearsed speech. To which he replied in a calm, relaxed tone:

"What's your problem? You don't love your family? You have one day in the year to spend with your wife and kids! What's the hurry!"

On the one hand, this is just typical Israeli Chutzpa. But, he had a point. It would appear that this is the annual excuse for staying in bed late and relaxing with the family over a cup of hot chocolate. It is one of the fringe benefits of living in Gush Etzion. This year I really enjoyed it.

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