Israel gets hit with a massive storm…not even once per winter. A few times a year (at most), Israelis, at least those in the high elevations, wake up to a white world that lasts for a few days (at most). Jerusalem – maybe once or twice a year. Most other places in Israel – maybe once every few years and in many places, never. It all depends on how high you are. In our case, as our city is built on mountain tops, we have parts of the city that might get snow while other parts see only rain.
Almost exactly eight years ago, before we moved so close to Jerusalem, it began snowing and accumulated to perhaps an inch or two on the ground (5 cm. for those of you who live in meters). Elie’s youngest sister was a mere two weeks old and so she stayed inside where it was warm while the others donned coats and gloves (or several layers of socks because it was never really cold enough to remember to buy them gloves).
It didn’t matter to them – it was white outside. They rushed out to enjoy the weather. They built a very small snowman (how big can it be when you are staying in your small yard and there’s only a few centimeters or an inch to play with?). They threw snowballs and got rosy cheeks. And, as they came in to enjoy hot chocolate – the sun came out and the snow melted. It was a less-than-three-hour affair from start to finish.
Israel is now being pelted with a massive storm system. It’s very cold – well below normal for this country and so snow has already covered Jerusalem, much of the Golan Heights and the hills of the northern and southern areas.
It’s very cold where Elie is – the desert may be hot during the day, but at night it can be brutally cold. The army had them outside training yesterday, but brought them in by 5:00 when night set in. Elie called last night and when he was explaining about the day of training cut short and the likelihood of going out tomorrow, he said, “and they brought us home by 5:00” and then he quickly “corrected” it to “here.” It was an interesting slip.
What is home? For Israelis who have moved here from other countries, some still refer to home as the other country. They’ll go back “home” to visit family and friends from their youth. For me, home has always been Israel and particularly the place where I am with my husband and children. But in all cases, home is usually (and hopefully) a place of warmth, a place of security. It’s a good place to be at this moment or a place deep in your heart you yearn to be. In either case, for most people (hopefully), home is a positive thing. I didn’t mind Elie saying “home” was the base. In one sense, you can never have too many homes.
I hope and believe my home will always be Elie’s home, long after (God willing) he goes out and makes a family and home of his own. For now, home is where he comes to when the army lets him out; but apparently he feels content enough to recognize home also where he spends his down time with those around him.
Out in the field, he tests himself and is tested; at home, he can rest. Today, as the storm rages outside, they will likely keep Elie and the others on base where it is warm. He may not be able to build a snowman, have a snowball fight, or even drink hot chocolate, but I’ll bet he’s enjoying himself and the break from routine.
May we all be blessed with the warmth and love of home in our lives, no matter how far we travel, no matter how old we are, and no matter how cold it is outside.