Waiting for Snow in Jerusalem

Say Jerusalem and the pictures that pop into our minds are of religious and historical sites.  Everyone has their favorites but at the top of the list will be the Kotel – the Western Wall, major churches, the Golden Dome atop the Temple Mount.  If we think of modern sites then they will include the Knesset and the famous Menora in the Knesset Rose Garden, Hebrew University campus, Hadassah Hospital and more.  How many of you imagine Jerusalem covered with snow?

Snow – not possible – Israel is in the Middle East – it’s warm all year round, not enough rain, certainly not cold enough for snow.  Right?  Well, surprisingly enough Israel does get snow.  Usually when it snows in Israel the snow will be in the northern parts of the country and in the higher elevations.  Mt. Hermon gets snow every year, there’s even a ski resort there.  It’s normal for there to be snow in Tsfat, the Golan, the upper Galilee – even in Gush Etzion region near Jerusalem – but Jerusalem? No way.

Well you’d be wrong.  Even though Jerusalem doesn’t get much snow and it doesn’t happen every year it does happen every so often.  Right at this moment, Jerusalem is in another snow watch.  Children are hoping for snow – enough to build a snow man and have a day off from school.  The city is preparing again to have all the necessary equipment and manpower to clear streets and provide emergency services.  Everyone is in a waiting mode.

Even though snow in Jerusalem is usually no more than a dusting, or at most 1-2 cm (an inch at most) Jerusalem has had some major snowstorms.  The biggest snowstorm since records have been kept (starting in 1850) was in Feb. of 1920 – the total snowfall was 98 cm!! (38.5 in).  I had the opportunity to hear first hand descriptions of that snow, incidents of snow fall and drifts that blocked people into their homes since they couldn’t open their doors.

We are waiting and hoping for snow again in Jerusalem today.  If the snow comes it won’t be anything at all like 1920 – there will be a few centimeters and maybe the kids will get lucky and school will be closed.  For a short while the city will be blanketed with a beautiful, shimmering white glow and all will be quiet – a very special sight for everyone who is lucky enough to see it.

In the meantime – enjoy this photo of the snow in 1920.

Whether it snows or not – Jerusalem is waiting for you to come and visit – see her splendor, enjoy the sights and sounds of this amazing jewel.

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