Snow is something not immediately associated with a hot Mediterranean country like Israel. It does fall in the north on Mount Hermon, but rarely in the centre of the country. When it does, however, the effect on the population is dramatic. It only needs a few wisps to fall for all the residents of Jerusalem to move immediately into panic mode.
All places of work are vacated – schools, shops and government offices emptied. People rush to clear the supermarket shelves of ’emergency supplies’ then race home in a frenzy of anxiety that they might (God forbid) be snowbound. This rarely happens as the few flakes that manage to fall hardly settle on the ground long enough to justify being called snow.
But not only Jerusalemites are affected. Once snow is reported thousands of people living on the coastal plain make evacuation plans, but this time to visit the snow. It is probably one of the rare occasions when Tel Avivians deign to visit the capital city.
To travel by car is an ordeal – not because of harsh weather conditions, but because of the tremendous traffic jams caused by others who have the same idea. One TA friend rented a 4×4 in order to take the back route over small mountain tracks rather than risk the congestion on the main highway.
However Tel Avivians have found an ingenious way to combat this. They ring a friend in Jerusalem, ask him to fill his car trunk with snow and to meet them halfway on the main highway at Latrun.
Here it is transferred from car to car and the Tel Avivian return home exultant with his hoard. I have yet to discover if any of it actually reaches its destination. I guess that, sadly, all he has when he reaches home is a rather damp patch in the trunk of the car.
But never mind, it is said that in life the journey is more important than the arrival. In this case for a brief period the excitement of the adventure takes thoughts away from some of the more pressing issues that affect Israelis.