Have You Ever Seen a Snowstorm in the Desert?
When I was a kid, I used to wake up every single day in the winter and look out the window to see if it snowed. Even though we are far North, it rarely snowed in Seattle, so when it did, the school was canceled and we were elated.
There are some places in the world where kids don’t even consider looking out the window for snow, one of them is in Southern Israel. But on February 14, 1992, a huge snowstorm in Israel reached as far as Israel’s desert.
It snowed everywhere; the Golan Heights, Nahariya, Haifa, Raanana, Herzliya, Beer Sheva, Dimona, Mitzpe Ramon (can you believe it?), and of course in Jerusalem.
More rain fell in February 1992 than had in decades in Israel. The Sea of Galilee and all of Israel’s surface water reservoirs filled up. In a country that struggles with water supply, an abundance of rainfall is a blessing. However, because it’s so infrequent, Israel is not set up for this kind of extreme weather and along with the excitement of snowball fights, there were also a lot of challenges to contend with.
A JTA news article from 1992, describes the impact the snow and rain had all over the country. Roads and highways were shut down from flooding and snowdrifts and thousands of citizens were stuck on the highways for up to 7 hours trying to get home.
Army helicopters had to airlift citizens who were stranded on roads that had turned into lakes. There were power outages all over the country, thousands of chickens and cows died from falling roofs from the weight of the snow, and fish harvests were devastated as ponds froze over. In the Golan Heights, a reservoir dam failed, releasing most of the water down into Syria.
The light through this extremely difficult storm was the way people showed up for each other. In Ramot, there was a couple that was supposed to get married that day. Since the country was shut down they thought they were going to have to postpone their wedding. Their local synagogue (Beit Knesset) offered to host the wedding and the entire community immediately rallied to organize the wedding for the same day.
Someone with a jeep went to collect the bride, the groom, and their families, the women of the community started baking and cooking, a local makeup artist and hairstylist did everyone’s hair and makeup, another community member showed up with his saxophone and even the kids got involved to help set up and decorate the synagogue. It was a gorgeous and deeply moving event.
This is Israel, even in the toughest moments in history, people rally to help each other -
Even when it’s snowing in the desert.