What Does an Israeli Say When it Snows?

What Does an Israeli Say When it Snows?

In Israel, when it’s Shabbat, they say “Shabbat Shalom.”

What it’s a holiday, they say “Chag Sameach.”

And what about when it snows, like it’s supposed to do big-time in Israel tonight?

I found out the answer this morning when I ran into an Israeli Chassidic woman I know as we were both exiting the Jerusalem municipality.

As I pulled on my gloves and she fastened a plastic rain bonnet over her wig with a little hat on top , she blessed me with “Sheleg Sameach!” or “Happy Snow!”

“Sheleg Sameach?” I answered with surprise, “Never heard that one before…”

The truth is, I was surprised to hear these words coming out of my friend’s mouth, not only because I’d never heard the expression “Sheleg Sameach” before. More than that, I was surprised to encounter her excitement mixed with joy over the approaching snow, when most Israelis relate to snow with equal amounts excitement and trepidation. Sort of similar to how we Americans relate to a major thunderstorm.

But even before I asked my question, my Chassidic buddy answered it, “You know why I love snow? You know why it’s such a holy time when snow falls? Because it is the only time throughout the whole year that all of us Israelis—secular, religious, Charedi—turn our eyes towards Heaven and wonder what will be.”


Photo by Yakov Nahomie

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