Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Dreaming of a White Jerusalem

January 10, 2013 3:45 pm 1 comment

Snow in Jerusalem.

Many dream of Jerusalem—from David and Maimonides to Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain—but when Israelis dream of Jerusalem, we always dress her in white.

Snow suits Jerusalem. She is our Snow White. It is the color of purity for a city that represents God’s grace and prayers that are sometimes answered, sometimes not.

King David prayed to build a city and God’s Temple.  David got part of his wish, but Abraham Lincoln and Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Levi (among many other leaders and rabbis) apparently never got here. Had they seen Jerusalem covered in snow, they would certainly have felt blessed.

Snow enhances Jerusalem’s special light—an effect that mystics, jaundiced journalists and sharp-eyed photographers alike have detected.

“When you photograph or film in Jerusalem, you have to  factor in one-f-stop beyond what your light meter tells you, or else it won’t work,” my late friend, film-maker Adir Zik, told me many times. Adir stressed that when mystics and cabalists “see the light” in Jerusalem, they are actually noticing a real fact of life.

For most of the year, Jerusalem’s natural colors are, as Israel’s great composer Naomi Shemer beautifully wrote: “Jerusalem of gold, and of copper and of light.” Yet, the Jerusalem of Gold is enhanced by white, like a bride.

Waking at dawn to several inches of snow in Jerusalem means encountering an ethereal glow replacing the usual wintry darkness before  sunrise, and when the sun emerges on Zion’s silent, snowy streets and the walls of the Old City, the effect is magical, even hypnotic.

Jerusalem has always been the stuff of our dreams and our desires, especially for Jews in the Diaspora who ended the Passover seder with words Le-shana ha-ba’a b-yerushalayim: “Next year in Jerusalem.”

This prayer clearly spread to many non-Jews who took the “shining city on the hill” and “wait till next year” as their own prayer for a better life, a better result.

“Wait till next year” became the anthem of the old Brooklyn Dodgers, a great baseball team that symbolized the dreams of the common man, a team that was the first to include non-Whites as players (Jackie Robinson) , and  a team that seemingly could not quite win the championship at the end of the season.

Many Dodger fans (including my mother) were Jewish, and their Jewishly-infused “Next Year in Jerusalem”  morphed into “wait till next year”: a universal prayer.

It even reached Chicago and Boston, where the fans of the seemingly cursed  Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox were converted to praying for a miracle.

Snow in Jerusalem is, of course, no miracle, but it can have miraculous effects, like bringing together people of many different backgrounds and political points of view.

Praying for snow in Jerusalem has become something of a tradition among Israelis—a prayer uniting the more religious Jerusalemites and the usually secular folk from Tel Aviv and Haifa who like to visit Jerusalem when its stones are softened by a little of the white, hexagonal flakes.

There is nothing like watching the child-like joy of the supposedly sophisticated coastal Israelis shlepping snow balls back to Tel Aviv and Netanya.

Perhaps we Israelis value the snow because it is most tangible form of water—the force of life in this parched part of the world. It is a dream come true, a dream that can be touched and even formed into a snowman or a snowball to throw at friends.

We can play in the softly frozen water with our children and our dogs without fear of drowning anything but our cares. It is a  dream come true, that keeps our minds off the as-yet-unfulfilled dreams of reaching an “Arab Spring” or finding moderates among our neighbors.

Dr. Michael Widlanski grew up playing in the snow in New York’s Central Park. He is, an expert on Arab politics and communications, and  author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by  Threshold/Simon and Schuster. A former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers and The Jerusalem Post, Dr. Widlanski was  Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →