Two years ago, it snowed like the apocalypse in Newark, New Jersey.
Nevertheless, the airports were open the next day and early in the morning December 28, we packed our three kids and 15 duffel bags into a shuttle bus. As the sun rose, we headed up the NJ Turnpike from my mother’s house in Cherry Hill to Newark International Airport to meet a plane full of Jews preparing for a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight to Israel.
13 hours and five barf bags later, we landed.
But not to the Israel I had imagined in my mind.
Not the Israel of USY or Birthright.
Not the Israel that threatened to burn your skin lobster red or put you in a hospital in Beer Sheva for dehydration.
We landed in winter Israel; which, apparently, gets really wet and cold. For months.
I’m embarrassed to admit this, but do you know that I did not pack in one of those 15 duffel bags a pair of sweat pants? Not for me; not for my children.
I’m pretty sure I packed two pairs of pants for each kid and about 10 pairs of shorts.
I kid you not.
In Northern Israel.
To be fair, I had only been to Israel once in winter. And, while it’s true, I DID spend two weeks volunteering on a God Forsaken army base outside of Tzfat, during which I vaguely recall sleeping beneath a wool blanket in my large, down-lined khaki army jacket; I think my memories of being dehydrated by the Dead Sea prevailed.
I thought it was perpetual summer in Israel. I thought the worst it got was windbreaker and jeans weather.
Luckily, a month after we arrived in Israel with our duffel bags, our shipping container arrived in Haifa. And, two weeks after that, following a port workers strike, our winter jackets and hats arrived. And my two pairs of Wellington boots.
Now I know better: Winter in Israel, on a good year, is wet. And cold.
And on kibbutz — very, very muddy.
But, as naive as I may have once been about winter in Israel — I feel very out of place in, and a tad bit disturbed, by the winter wonderland brought on by this storm.
Ice raining down on my porch?
Driving winds slamming against the side of my house?
Flooding (and drunken tubing ) on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv?
And if it were one random stand alone instance of freak weather, I’d probably chuckle and enjoy the cheers of my 4-year-old who doesn’t remember the snow of the blizzard we left New Jersey in. She thinks this freezing rain is snow.
But, I don’t have to tell you it’s not a stand alone instance of freak weather.
Where ever you’re reading this from — Australia (where wild fires rage), the midwestern and southern U.S. (where the impacts of drought are still being felt), Seaside Heights (still soggy from Sandy), flooded Great Britain — you know what I’m talking about.
Freak weather is becoming less freakish; and more freakishly common.
Winter in Israel was never this wintery. At least, not in a long time.
And after we make it through this storm, I wonder if anyone is going to be talking about it.
Or if they’ll simply shrug their shoulders in a “Huh, wasn’t that interesting” sorta way and praise the Lord for the rising of the Sea of Galilee.
Don’t get me wrong — we need water here. I am certainly grateful for the water.
And yet … suspicious.
Sensitive to the ominous winds of change.
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/