Snow forecast takes Holy Land by storm

With memories still fresh of the Holy Land's worst storm in 50 years last winter, Israelis and Palestinians stocked up on supplies for a forecast heavy snowfall on Tuesday.

The approaching storm, due to peak on Wednesday, was expected to be lighter than in December 2013, when snow fell for three days, paralysing the region and causing power outages that left tens of thousands cut off from electricity and heat.

Israeli television weatherman Danny Rupp predicted 12 to 24 hours of snowfall in Jerusalem. Barry Lynn, a meteorologist at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the storm would likely dump between 10 inches and 24 inches of snow in the city.

Snowploughs and power crews were on alert in Jerusalem, northern Israel and in the Palestinian Territories.

Jerusalem's light rail de-railed by snow on Jan. 10, 2013. Photo by Michael Friedson/TML Photos

As the skies darkened on Tuesday, Israelis and Palestinians scurried for food supplies and gas or paraffin heaters.

“We ran out quickly,” said one salesmen in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, “There's not a heater to be found anywhere in the area.”

Heavy rains and near-freezing temperatures in the approaching storm threatened to deepen the misery in the Gaza Strip, where streets are still strewn with wreckage from a 50-day war with Israel last summer, thousands live in U.N. shelters and damaged homes and the power is on only six hours a day.

“No electricity, no drinkable water, no reconstruction, and now a storm. Our people need the help of the entire world,” said Samir Ali, 47, a Gaza city taxi driver.

Inside a packed supermarket, Jerusalem resident Alon Issashar, 29, said he had hoped to beat the crowds by shopping early.

“As you can see Armageddon is coming,” he joked. “People are going crazy. I guess people outside of Israel will laugh but we are used to sun.”

A man prays at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City during a snowstorm on Jan. 10, 2013. Photo by Darren Whiteside/Reuters

In the Palestinian city of Ramallah, shoppers cleaned bread, water and diapers off supermarket shelves.

In Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat said roads to the city were likely to be closed at the sight of the first snowflakes.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Barkat, police commanders and emergency services officials at a meeting in Jerusalem to prepare for the storm.

“I ask all Israeli citizens to simply watch out for their neighbours' welfare and help them,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Last winter, hundreds of motorists trying to reach Jerusalem were trapped in their vehicles for hours before being rescued by troops in armoured personnel carriers.

“Last year's lessons have been learnt to their fullest,” Barkat told Army Radio.

Snow is for everyone

When my son, Moses, was 4 years old, he said to me one December day, “Papa, can be pretend that we are Christians?” 

“Hmmm, Moses,” I replied, with exaggerated casualness, “why do you want that?” 

Moses: “because I want to make a snowman and play in the snow.” 

Oh my poor, L.A.-born child, who had never seen snow. Yet, he saw Christmas-themed images on billboards, movies, and books of kids playing in the snow. 

“Moses,” I said to him, “we can be Jewish and still play in the snow.”

“We can?” he exclaimed with surprise. “Even if we are Jewish? Can we build a snowman and have a snowball fight and lay in the snow and make angels?”

Moses, who has rich Jewish holiday experiences, was still somewhat envious of what he perceived to be a Christian activity: having fun in the snow. And so I promised him that year that we will take a drive to the mountains and go sledding.

Moses understood, even if he couldn’t express it clearly, that he was missing out on something: other people’s holidays. What I tried to explain was that, like going to a friend’s birthday party, we could celebrate with other people even if the holiday is not ours.  We invite our non-Jewish friends over for Hanukkah, Sukkot, and Passover.  And our children, in turn, get invited to their non-Jewish friends’ houses for their holidays.  

Jews are still, as we almost always have been, a minority. Yet, America is an amazing place where people of different faiths can express and share our celebrations with our neighbors.  And then return to our own homes safely, secure in the beauty of our particular tradition. 

Snow is for everyone, even if we have to drive to see it.

This Week in Jewish Farming: Springtime for farmers

I get a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.

Until recently, that line from 10,000 Maniacs’ 1987 single was just a song lyric. But when I woke up Monday morning and saw a heavy wet snow falling, I swear I could hear my bones rattle.

Not long ago, the sight of an unexpected spring snow would have filled me with joy. In New York, nothing is more tranquilizing for the manic city than a heavy dusting. Today, my livelihood depends on what happens in the skies. And lately, the news hasn’t been good.

I’m not talking about reduced crop yields and other projected effects of climate change, though that’s certainly bad enough.  In many northeast cities, last month was the coldest March in 30 years. Weather records were set in dozens of places across the country. On the morning of my first day of greenhouse work in early March, the farm was so windswept and forbidden I thought I had wandered onto the set of “Fargo.” All of which has slowed down germination rates and made me worry — not that it takes a lot to do that, but whatever — that the seedlings won’t be ready for transplant later this month.

Fortunately, spring seemed to finally get its act together. Tuesday dawned warm and sunny — the first true spring day — and by noon there was scarcely a trace of white left. Something deeper seemed to shift as well. In the greenhouse, the heightened mojo was palpable. After weeks in which I measured progress in the flats by counting individual green shoots, a symphony of growth was underway. Kale, collards, beets, kohlrabi, celeriac — everything seemed to be jumping, even the much-delayed onions. In the tomato tray, one tiny cotyledon was barely peeking out of the soil when I arrived. Two hours later, the stem was standing proudly upright.

The fields are a different story, a soggy mess that will take days to dry out enough to start tilling — assuming it doesn’t rain again of course, a possibility the weatherman pegs at about 30 percent. The first crops are due to get planted outside April 28, eight weeks before the first scheduled CSA delivery. Whether that actually happens is, to a significant extent, beyond my control.

And therein lies the rub. It’s one thing to long for a life more attuned to the rhythms of the seasons. It’s another to actually surrender to them. That’s a hard thing to do when nearly 30 people have collectively given you thousands of dollars in exchange for nothing more than a promise that, come June 19 and every Thursday thereafter for 22 weeks, a box of vegetables will have their name on it.

It’s an interesting moment to pursue a career dependent on the whims of nature. Organic vegetable demand continues to grow rapidly, and there’s little doubt in my mind that if I can achieve escape velocity, I have a viable business on my hands. At the same time, the earth is doing funny things which, for some of us, mean more than just another day with a heavy coat.

Nearly all Israelis have power again following snowstorm

Electricity was restored in Israel in the wake of last week’s snowstorm, though isolated customers in Jerusalem still had no power.

The Israel Electric Corp. on its website Tuesday afternoon urged the customers without power to contact the company’s service center.

Up to 60,000 households were without power at the apex of the storm.

The Jerusalem Light Rail resumed service for the first time since last week early Tuesday morning, and public bus transportation began running regularly in and out of the city.

[Related: I got stranded in the great Israeli snowstorm of 2013]

Some schools in Jerusalem reopened an hour late on Tuesday morning. Schools remained closed in the northern city of Safed and in areas of the West Bank.  Hebrew University in Jerusalem remained closed due to traffic issues, however.

The main road to the Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem remained closed Tuesday due to large snow drifts and dangerous ice patches.

Snow falls in Jerusalem, northern Israel

Snow and hail began falling in the Jerusalem area and continued to fall in the north of the country.

Areas of the West Bank, including Hebron and Ramallah were also blanketed in snow.

The snow in Jerusalem is expected to accumulate, and residents have been requested to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Mayor Nir Barkat also called on visitors ready to converge on Jerusalem to witness the rare snowfall to wait until it stopped falling.

Schools in areas throughout the country were closed over fears of dangerous travel due to the snow, continued flooding and loss of electricity.

At least three feet of snow fell on Mount Hermon as snow continued to fall heavily in Israel's north.

Two Palestinian women who were riding in a car swept away by flooding near Nablus on Tuesday night were found dead in Tul Karem on Wednesday morning. The driver of the car was rescued and is hospitalized.

An Israeli man holds ropes as he stands near a car which was swept away during flash floods near Jerusalem on Jan. 9. At least 17 people have died due to a winter storm in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Meteorological agencies in Israel and Lebanon both called it the worst storm in 20 years. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

In Europe, new kosher ski options that won’t break the bank

Skiing has always been something of a rich man’s sport.

Between the costs of travel, accommodations, lift tickets and lessons, a family with children can easily drop upward of $6,000 for a few days on the slopes. If you keep kosher, the costs can be even higher.

No longer. Over the past decade, Jewish entrepreneurs have been crafting affordable alternatives to Europe's handful of $250-per-night kosher ski lodges. The result is that nowadays, hundreds of observant middle-class families flock each winter to Europe’s Alpine slopes.

“With the financial crisis, few can afford a Jewish four-star hotel,” says Dolly Lellouche. She and her husband, Chlomo, run D'holydays, a travel agency that operates a two-star “kosherized” hotel — a regular hotel that is temporarily made kosher to accommodate an observant clientele. This year, D'holydays took over the Hotel Grand Aigle at Serre de Chevalier, a major resort in southeast France.

The newer, cheaper alternatives to all-year kosher hotels include kosherized hotels like the Grand Aigle, which are typically available to kosher travelers for just a week or two; do-it-yourself options, where agencies or groups of friends rent ski apartments and prepare food themselves; and discounted kosher trips run by Jewish nonprofits.

Ideal Tours, a Jerusalem-based travel agency, lists several kosherized ski hotels operating in world-class ski locales such as Courchevel, in France’s Tarentaise Valley, the Crans-Montana resorts in Switzerland and Pinzolo in Italy.

But nowhere are low-cost solutions and workarounds more abundant than in France, a country of more than 550,000 Jews and home to some of the largest ski resorts in the world.

Eli Club, a Nice-based kosher ski agency, will set you up at the Serre de Chevalier at Hotel La Belle Etoile, a three-star establishment, while Club J, another agency, will send you to Hotel La Ruade — both kosherized hotels. Toruman, a Belgium travel agency, and Maagalei Nofesh in Israel offer a range of hotels in which a family of four can expect to bid adieu to $3,000-$4,000 for a week of skiing, Jewish hospitality and certified glatt kosher cooking.

Though still a handsome sum, it is far less daunting than the $6,000-$8,000 price tag for a family of four to vacation at one of Europe’s four-star kosher ski hotels, like My One Kosher Hotel in Italy or Metropol Hotel Arosa in Switzerland.

That’s especially true considering that accommodation is only the beginning. Ski passes can cost an adult another $250 or more per week. Renting gear can pile on another $100 per person. Ski lessons for kids can cost $300. But there are ways to cut down on those costs as well.

“A good hotel should be able to get you a good discount on these expenses,” Lellouche said.

Still, no matter how many stars they have or what peripheral discounts they offer, kosher ski lodges tend to cost substantially more than their non-kosher equivalents, according to Pinchas Padwa, an Amsterdam-based rabbi who has been providing kosher certification to ski resorts in Europe for two decades.

“The overhead of running a kosher hotel in the Alps is overwhelming,” Padwa said. In Switzerland, where ritual slaughter is prohibited, all kosher meat and many other kosher products need to be imported. On top of that are kosher certification costs and special expenses associated with finding cooks capable of making Jewish foods.

To keep expenditures down, some skiers get together and rent non-kosher vacation units for a lower rate. The downside there is vacationers need to bring their own kitchen equipment and a taste for vegetarian home cooking, as they are likely to depend for their nourishment on the limited supply of certified kosher products available at the local supermarket.

“In renting an apartment or choosing a hotel, it’s important to check how close the locale is to the actual piste,” or slope, Lellouche said. Another complication to watch out for is that most ski apartments are rented for one week starting Saturday, an arrangement that deprives observant families of two skiing days.

Young adults or couples without children have more options — especially in Holland, where for the past two winters, Jewish organizations have subsidized a ski getaway organized by the Maccabi Skijar group for about 60 young Jews. Participants pay only $650 for flights from the Netherlands, food and accommodations for eight days in France’s Tarentaise Valley.

The Maccabi Skijar group is predominantly but not exclusively Dutch, with some participants coming from England and Israel, according to one of the group’s three leaders, Maxime van Gelder. This year, skiers will descend on two chalets, one reserved for kosher eaters.

Van Gelder plans to buy kosher meat in Lyon, some 50 miles away, and deliver it himself. “The idea is to help Jews be together and have fun together,” he says.

For Shabbat, the group will be joined by Rabbi Menachem Sebbag, the Dutch army’s top Jewish chaplain and rabbi of the popular AMOS shul near Amsterdam.

The Israeli organization Keneski runs a similar program for singles, but for more money ($1,000-$1,250, flight not included) and in more luxurious surroundings. This year the “Keneskiers” — an international group with a strong Israeli contingent — will stay at the kosherized four-star Royal Olympic Hotel in Pinzolo, Italy.

For the past two years, Keneski brought skiers to My One Kosher Hotel, a permanently kosher, four-star establishment in Canazei, Italy. The hotel owners, Avi and Belinda Netzer, opened their hotel four years ago.

“At first other hotel owners seriously resented us coming here,” Avi Netzer recalls. “They didn’t understand this kosher business and thought competition was fierce enough without our 50-room hotel. It took a while before they saw our hotel brought in clientele that would otherwise never come.”

Menachem Glik, an Israeli who participated in Keneski’s 2011 trip, said his vacation was filled with “suspense, emotions” and even “romance growing on the slopes and on the lift.” At the same time, he says, it was a chance to get in touch with “young people from all over the world, from different cultures and backgrounds and speaking different languages, but with one common denominator” — a love for skiing.

The future of water in Los Angeles: What the Israeli experience can show us

Most people in Los Angeles don’t feel just how serious the city’s water predicament is.

After all, we are enjoying a respite right now; last year was a banner year for snow and rain. However, just three years ago we were battling a drought so severe that we had to have water rationing in Los Angeles. The anemic 2012 numbers for the Sierra Nevada snowpack (which provides most of our water) portend another shortage around the corner. 

Nearly 90 percent of our water comes from hundreds of miles away — the Owens Valley, the Colorado River and the Sacramento Delta. All three of these sources are under pressure — imports from the Colorado River are capped, deliveries from the Delta are no longer fully dependable in view of the fragility of its ecosystem and the instability of its protective levies, and supplies from the Owens Valley have been significantly curtailed due to environmental obligations and an erratic snowpack. Steep price increases are projected for shipments from the Colorado and the Delta. We have to face the fact that the days of cheap, abundant imported water may be numbered. To compound matters, our sole indigenous resource of any consequence, our groundwater aquifer in the San Fernando Valley, which provides for around 10 percent of our consumption, is suffering from such contamination that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has had to close a substantial number of its wells.

Climate change will exacerbate the situation. Los Angeles is heavily dependent on the Sierra snowpack that feeds L.A.’s own aqueduct and the supply from the Sacramento Delta. The Sierra Nevada snowpack (effectively California’s largest surface-water reservoir) has already diminished by 10 percent since 1950 and will continue to shrink as more precipitation falls as rain instead of snow. LADWP has projected that by 2050 a water shortage worse than the 1977 drought could occur in one out of every six to eight years.

We must act now to shape a better destiny for our city — one built to a greater extent on our homegrown water resources. This is not a new concept. Indeed, this is exactly what the 2008 Water Supply Plan, drafted during my tenure at LADWP and announced by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, espouses. It is disheartening that four years after its release, its tenets still remain distant goals — the result of our failure as a city to garner the political will and gather the funding necessary to provide for our future. LADWP is currently attempting to obtain rate increases to finance the programs envisaged by the Water Supply Plan, such as wastewater recycling, rainfall capture, groundwater remediation and underground storage. Angelenos should support this effort.

In envisioning this road to a new water future, it may be helpful to study the experience of other countries that have made radical changes in their water portfolios. 

One such country is Israel. 

Israel has suffered a chronic water shortage for years. By the mid-1990s, a combination of unrelenting drought, population growth, urbanization (impeding the normal recharge of aquifers from rainfall) and man-made pollution led to the depletion and degradation of Israel’s natural water resources — Lake Kinneret and the country’s mountain and coastal aquifers. This crisis threatened the very adequacy of the country’s domestic water supply. As a result, Israel has embarked on a wide-ranging strategy that includes desalination, wastewater reclamation, conservation, infrastructure upgrade and rate reform strategies — all under the jurisdiction and leadership of Mekorot, the Israeli national water company. 

Israel has already begun to reap benefits from its water revolution, accomplishing the highest rate of wastewater reclamation in the world, an enviable conservation record and landmark advances in desalination processes. Mekorot has emerged as a world leader in water technologies and is today sharing its expertise and engaging in global business transactions. In effect, Israel’s actions to solve its water crisis have become exportable assets providing valuable know-how to others while also bringing revenues to Mekorot.

This is not to suggest that Israel and Los Angeles are in the same position; Israel’s water exigencies are certainly graver that any presently confronting Los Angeles, and Israel’s geopolitical and security situations place it under much greater pressures than we in Los Angeles can even begin to imagine. However, there are some intriguing parallels between Los Angeles and Israel. Both have a semiarid climate, and both face recurrent droughts and the uncertainties of climate change. Israel and Los Angeles also have similar policies for dealing with their respective water supply problems. 

However, there is at least one important distinction: Israel has staked its water future, to a large extent, on seawater desalination; Los Angeles has not, although desalination technologies are utilized in wastewater reclamation, aquifer remediation and other methodologies. As can be seen from the list below, ocean desalination is conspicuously missing from the L.A. Water Supply Plan as a strategy for obtaining a new water resource for the city. This is because, unlike Israel, Los Angeles has a long way to go in first attaining practical levels of wastewater recycling, conservation, rain capture and aquifer purification before it can justify desalinating the ocean (given the high monetary and environmental cost of this choice); Israel has already substantially exhausted these other options and has determined that it has no choice but to turn to the Mediterranean. It is reported that Israel will spend around $15 billion on its five new coastal desalination plants. Mekorot is regarded as peerless in terms of optimizing the design and operation of desalination plants to reduce cost, energy consumption and environmental impacts, but the fact remains that for us in Los Angeles, desalination is the most expensive of treatment technologies (especially compared to wastewater reclamation, aquifer remediation and conservation), the most energy intensive and the most problematic as far as environmental effects are concerned (considering the land area needed and marine life and brine disposal matters). It makes little sense for Los Angeles to pursue ocean desalination as a first-tier policy when it is recycling negligible amounts of its wastewater (see below). It would be illogical to clean our wastewater, dump it in the ocean, and then suck it back up and desalinate it; we need to reclaim and reuse that wastewater before it hits the ocean. Still, Israel’s advances are of tremendous benefit to us because these desalination technologies can be applied to other water purification methods beyond seawater desalination.

As a first step for Los Angeles, we need to recognize that our imported-water model (compounded by the advent of climate change) may simply not be sustainable as we seek a secure, affordable, adequate water supply for the Los Angeles of tomorrow. The 2008 Water Supply Plan already gives us the blueprint; we now need the leadership, and LADWP needs the funding, to implement it.

Let’s review the strategies for Los Angeles:

Conservation. Los Angeles has done extremely well; our population has grown by more than a million people over the last 25 years, and yet our water consumption has actually declined. Our per capita use is now less than 120 gallons a day, the lowest of any American city with a population of more than a million people. During my tenure at LADWP, we were able to dramatically reduce water consumption levels using the combination of a public outreach campaign, the enactment of the Water Conservation Ordinance (together with the deployment of the Water Conservation Team to enforce it), a rate regime to send a potent conservation signal, and a panoply of rebates and incentives to encourage behavior change. The positive results of those steps are still with us today. But, we can do better. We may be able to boast a low consumption rate in contrast to other American cities, but not in relation to other parts of the world. As a point of comparison, the per capita daily consumption number for Israelis is around 70 gallons. This is partly because a water conservation ethos is taught to Israelis from a very young age, an example we are now emulating in Los Angeles. Let’s remember also that around 40 percent of the water used in Los Angeles is outside the home — those ubiquitous sprinklers quenching the relentless thirst of lawns. By installing California landscaping and drip irrigation, a great deal of water can be saved.     

Infrastructure. Our pipelines are deteriorating, and current replacement and repair programs aren’t keeping pace. Across the United States, there are more than 240,000 water-main breaks annually (650 per day). It is estimated that this translates to wasting 7 billion gallons per day. Around 20 percent of LADWP’s pipelines are more than 100 years old. Strengthening LADWP’s repair and replacement program will protect the integrity of the system and provide a new source of water.

New building standards. We have made great strides in Los Angeles with our fixtures ordinance, which requires water-saving appliances to be incorporated in new development; the Low Impact Development Ordinance; the Green Building Ordinance; and other measures. Much more can be done by way of legal mandates, especially with respect to gray-water systems, cisterns, metering and other design features to conserve water. 

Wastewater recycling. This has to be a crucial element of any program to produce new water. In Los Angeles, we’ve spent billions of dollars building state-of-the-art plants to treat our wastewater to a high degree (secondary and tertiary levels), only to throw it away in the ocean. Other jurisdictions have long discovered that wastewater is an asset and have devised ways to reclaim it safely and affordably. Israel now reclaims almost 80 percent of its wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses. In Los Angeles itself, our rate is a paltry 2 percent. LADWP plans a substantial expansion of reuse projects for both nonpotable and potable applications. 

Rainfall capture. It is estimated that 60 percent of the rain that falls on Los Angeles is wasted. It hits impervious surfaces (roads, roofs, parking lots) and runs untreated to the ocean through an extensive storm drain system, only to foul the coast. This is both a water quantity and water quality problem. It is a central paradox of our city that in exactly this place so dependent on imported water we treat our own rainfall like some evil force to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible. We have to learn to build differently so that we don’t continually add impermeable areas. Here, our Low Impact Development Ordinance and other regulatory mandates are steps in the right direction. Israel, too, has to address the issue of lost rain as a result of urbanization that precludes the natural seepage of rain to recharge groundwater. Mekorot builds and operates catchments for the retention of rain. One example is the facility at the Shikma River, south of the City of Ashkelon, which can store up to 6 million cubic meters (nearly 5,000 acre feet) of rainwater.

Aquifer remediation. Roughly 10 percent of our water comes from our own aquifer in the San Fernando Valley. It’s a tragedy that this irreplaceable resource is suffering from contamination from human activities, which continues to spread. To its credit, LADWP has decided to execute a plan to save this basin. Israel is likewise no stranger to the qualitative deterioration of groundwater resources (as a result of over-extraction, seawater intrusion and anthropogenic pollution) and to the means that can be employed to redress these problems. In Israel, contamination caused by human activity menacing the coastal aquifer includes nitrates (probably from fertilizers), fuel (from leaks at oil refineries), volatile organic compounds (from industrial activities) and perchlorate, a rocket fuel. Pollution from pesticides and fertilizers has also posed a threat to the health of Lake Kinneret. 

Underground storage. As the effects of climate change become more pronounced, it is foreseeable that long dry spells will follow periods of heavy precipitation, that the Sierras will receive more rain than snow, and that the pattern and timing of snowmelt will change. This all points to the need to store water underground during the times of plenty for use in the lean years. Storing underground avoids losses due to evaporation and contamination resulting from aerial deposition.

The foregoing, then, is the roadmap for providing a degree of water security for Los Angeles as we contemplate a future in which our imported water sources won’t expand and may well contract as climate change takes hold and other factors play out.

The problem, of course, is to find the funding necessary for these programs. Achieving a rate increase in Los Angeles is a very political, public, often contentious exercise. Rate revisions require a broad-based, painstaking, time-consuming campaign — a dialogue with every segment of society, including business, labor, environmental, neighborhood and faith-based groups — so that these stakeholders will take ownership of the issue and, in turn, pressure the decision-makers to do what is necessary. Further, it’s not just the rate increase that needs to be explained and defended, but also the rate design because we must ensure that the burden of the rate hikes won’t fall on those least able to bear them. LADWP is going through this process right now and the L.A. City Council is scheduled to consider the requested rate additions in August.

In 2010, Israelis acceded to a number of rate increases, starting with a whopping 25 percent hike in January 2010 (with subsequent additional raises) to support construction of desalination plants. This was a difficult, divisive process in Israel, but most Israelis were convinced of the need for the increases. Our water officials in Los Angeles must gain the trust of Angelenos; I firmly believe that if our rate-payers have confidence in the truth of the reasons being offered for rate increases, they will support them, even in harsh economic times. Otherwise, we will be courting a water crisis.

H. David Nahai is a consultant and attorney specializing in water, energy and real estate matters. He is the former general manager and commission president of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, chair of the Regional Water Quality Control Board and senior adviser to the Clinton Climate Initiative.

Snow dumping topples headstones in Brooklyn cemetery

New York City snow removal trucks dumped tons of snow from the area’s recent blizzard into the city’s largest Jewish cemetery, toppling 21 headstones.

An iron fence around Brooklyn’s Washington Cemetery also was damaged when crews from the Sanitation Department dumped the snow into the cemetery over New Year’s weekend, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

The damage was discovered Sunday. Family members of some relatives buried in the cemetery have visited in recent days to check on the graves.

Several cars parked next to the cemetery also were buried; some were damaged.

The cemetery reportedly will file a claim with the city.

The blizzard that hit the New York metropolitan area Dec. 26-27 dropped 2 feet or more of snow in some spots.

Israel’s first winter storm causes damage

Israel’s first real winter storm caused major damage throughout the country, especially to the Tel Aviv beachfront and an ancient pier in Caesaria.

The storm which began Sunday and continued on Monday, included heavy rains and damaging winds of up to 75 miles per hour, which caused huge waves to wash up on Tel Aviv beaches, breaking restaurant windows, throwing café furniture, and scattering a thick layer of sand along the Promenade in Tel Aviv.

The storm caused a modern-day sea wall protecting the popular Caesarea archeological site to fall down early Sunday, exposing the walls of the ancient port and raising fears that the waves crashing on the site could cause irreparable damage.

Ben Gurion Airport closed to some flights on Sunday evening due to bad visibility conditions. Several planes were diverted to Cyprus.

A Moldovan cargo ship sank off the coast of Ashdod due to the raging sea conditions; its crew of 11 was rescued.

Thousands of homes were without power due to downed electrical lines and damaged generators.

Two people were seriously hurt when trees fell on their cars, and another at least 30 people were injured in weather-related incidents.

While flooding was feared in the Jordan Valley, the Judean Desert and the center of the country, nearly four feet of snow fell in the area of Mount Hermon. Light snow was also reported in Jerusalem.

The storm was predicted to abate by late Monday.

Choices Snowball for Ski Adventures

Skiers and snowboarders who want vacations with fresh powder have an avalanche of options this winter. Jewish ski trips abound for teens to 40-somethings of all skill levels.

Mammoth and Lake Tahoe will be the setting for a variety of Jewish ski trips, and teens can hit the ditch at local terrain parks through day trips being organized by Orange County’s Merage Jewish Community Center.

Other action can be found in Colorado, where three separate Jewish events are meeting over the next few months. In Europe, Alpine adventures include a French ski school for Jewish teens.

So even if you’re groomed more for the bunny hills than black-diamond thrills, you can still find excitement schmoozing with tribe members during an apr?s ski at one of the following events.


Big Bear

The Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County is featuring a teen trip to Bear Mountain for all skill levels of snowboarders and skiers, grades 6-12. Price includes transportation, lift tickets and snacks; equipment rental is available for an additional fee.

Dates: Monday, Jan. 16, 6 a.m.-7 p.m. (The JCC also has a trip to Mountain High in Wrightwood on Feb. 26.)

Cost: $80 (JCC members), $100 (nonmembers)

For more information, call (949) 435-3400.


Jski has three trips to Mammoth this season. Aimed at 20- to 40-something singles, the price tag includes roundtrip transportation via bus and two-nights lodging with a fireplace, color TV and Jacuzzi. Saturday evening features a wine and hors d’oeuvres party. Beginners welcome.

Dates: Jan. 20-22, Feb. 24-26 and March 17-19

Cost: $189

R.S.V.P. to Howard at (818) 342-9508 or at least two weeks before trip.

Lake Tahoe

Those who want a Jewish skiing package that includes some Texas Hold ‘Em and resort-style entertainment should consider the Lake Tahoe Jewish Singles Ski Week. Sponsored by United Jewish Singles Alliance and Travel Jewish, this trip for 20- to 40-somethings features six nights at the Embassy Suites, located in the heart of Tahoe’s casino action near the base of the Heavenly Ski Resort’s gondola.

The package also features transfers to and from Reno; a welcome reception; cooked-to-order breakfasts; daily skiing, including three days of lift tickets at Heavenly and one day at Squaw; apres ski events each evening; a lake cruise party; Shabbat service; roommate matching; and a farewell club dance party.

Date: Feb. 26-March 4.

Cost: $1,567. A $699 single supplement fee is available for guests who don’t want a roommate.

For more information, visit or, or call (877) 900-7022.

Jski’s own Lake Tahoe trip features roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles International, John Wayne International or San Diego International to Reno/Tahoe International; transfer to and from Reno; three-nights lodging (double occupancy) at the Best Western-Timber Cove Lodge; lift tickets to Heavenly, Kirkwood and Sierra Tahoe; round-trip shuttle to and from the slopes; and breakfast.

Dates: March 9-12

Cost: $639

R.S.V.P. to Howard at (818) 342-9508 or at least two weeks before the trip.


Crested Butte

Amazing Journeys and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh are co-sponsoring the third annual National Jewish Singles Ski Week at the full-service Grand Lodge Hotel at this rustic, kitschy destination. The trip includes a seven-night stay (double occupancy), roundtrip transfers from Gunnison Aiport, five days of lift passes, a Super Bowl party, complimentary apr?s ski, dinner and pizza party, Shabbat services and a mountain tour.

Dates: Feb. 5-12

Cost: $1,249

For more information, visit or call (800) 734-0493.

Steamboat Springs

Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America brings you its sixth annual Winter Events and Ski Trip, which is expected to draw club members from across the United States and Canada. The trip features a seven-night stay at the Timber Run Condominiums (three-bedroom condos are located 500 yards from the gondola); roundtrip Hayden Airport transportation; welcome dinner/hot tub party; evening tubing; sleigh ride, rodeo demonstration and gourmet dinner at cattle ranch; catered Shabbat dinner and games night; and mountaintop Western barbecue with dancing. Five-day lift ticket package is an additional $325. Rentals not included.

Dates: Feb. 26-March 5

Cost: $999-$1,199

For more information, visit, call (703) 471-8921 or e-mail


Jewish Heritage Tours is sponsoring the family-friendly Chanukah Glatt Kosher Ski Vacation at the Hotel Le Chantecler in Quebec. The package includes skiing on the resort’s 23 pistes, sleigh rides, snowmobiling and ice skating. The hotel features a synagogue, day camp, health and beauty center, indoor pool (with separate swimming hours) and a video arcade. Professor Elliot Wolffson and Rabbi Dr. Nosson Dovid Rabinowich will be the scholars in residence.

Dates: Dec. 27-Jan. 2

Cost: Call for rates.

For more information, call (718) 796-3199 or e-mail


Join more than 100 Jewish singles in the Italian Dolomites as the British Ski and Sun Club takes its 10th annual trip. This year marks the club’s first trip to the Val di Sole ski area, which features the resorts Madonna di Campiglio, Folgarida and Marilleva. Price includes flights and transfers from Gatwick to Verona, accommodations in a twin room, half board, lift passes and travel to the slopes.

Dates: March 4-11.

Cost: $1,225

For more information, visit or call (44) 7887-710150.


Join JC-Life for Jewish Ski Week in Austria, a.k.a. Absolut Ski. More than 200 young Jews (18-35) from Europe and the United States will join this legendary weeklong ski experience at the resorts of Gerlitzen and Nassfeld in Velden am Wörthersee. Package includes lift passes, kosher food (mashgiach Rabbi Abe Reichman from Jerusalem), programs and lectures and nightly parties.

Dates: Dec. 22-29

Cost: $530 (airfare not included)

For more information, visit or e-mail


Camp Espa ña Ski is the international ski camp for Jewish youth (13-20) located in Châtel on the border of France and Switzerland. Campers will spend more than 20 hours in ski instruction, studying with teachers from École du Ski Francias. The camp provides kosher French cuisine in a chalet that features its own disco. New Year’s Eve will be celebrated in the village with fireworks, Alpenhorns, torchlight ski descents and hot chocolate.

Price includes full board, ski instruction and rental, lift passes and round-trip transportation from Geneva Airport or Thonon les Bains railway station in France.

Dates: Dec. 25-Jan. 1

Cost: $1,004 (airfare not included)

For more information, visit