Morning sun over Modi’in in a sandstorm
Morning sun over Modi’in in a sandstorm
Morning sun over Modi’in in a sandstorm

I understand that you guys have been having some extreme weather in New York, the coldest weather in decades. Interestingly, we have also been having some colder-than-normal weather lately, and with snow in the Yerushalayim forecast at the end of the week. Maybe it’s not as cold as yours, but we are incredibly unused to it. One of the strangest parts of the latest weather system may have been the weather we had as this front blew in, an unseasonal major sandstorm that lasted about two days.

Sandstorms are not unusual here, but they normally occur in the warmer months, especially toward the end of summer. It is very rare to have one in winter, especially one as strong as this one. There was sand and dust seemingly everywhere.

The cars were covered with it to the point that it was difficult to see out the windows because of the muck. It was all over the streets and blew into any open window. Goldie commented that she could taste it in the air. People with respiratory issues were warned to stay inside, and people were advised not to exercise outdoors.

A sandstorm is also usually followed by a rainstorm that washes and cleans out the air. This sandstorm was so heavy that when the rain began to fall, it came down as a thick, sloggy paste. Goldie said that instead of raining, it was “mudding.” Yuck.

On the second day of the hazy overcast, I was traveling to the yeshiva a few minutes before sunset. I happened to glance up at the sky and noticed the sun, which appeared in a way that I had never seen before. The haze from the sand was so thick that the sun appeared as a white circle and you could look at it with the naked eye. It looked about as bright as the full moon and was extremely eerie.

When the sandstorm finally abated, I headed off to the gas station to clean my car windows (along with just about every other car owner in the country). Imagine having dry mud caked all over your windows–that is basically what I had. By the time I got there, the water in the squeegee bucket was filthy. And I used it anyway because the end result was much cleaner than what I had been trying to look through.

I still have to clean out the dust from the inside of the car, though, at least before Goldie gets home. I have been playing Mr. Mom all week so that Goldie could spend some time with her family to enjoy our niece Rivky Kreinberg’s wedding to our newest nephew, Ari Horn. And they are literally next-door neighbors–how do you like that!

So I have been making chocolate sandwiches (yes, chocolate is a sandwich-stuffer here) and chummus sandwiches and driving all the carpools and maintaining everyone’s schedule, and I have had enough. I did not need this week to show me how amazing Goldie is and how much she does. But I really don’t know how she does it without going insane.

Thankfully, she is a detail-oriented person and gave me step-by-step instructions. I, of course, messed up on the very first day with the first item on her list: “Put Mordechai’s lunch into his knapsack.” You can bet that I paid very close attention to that list from then on.

One good thing about her not being here is that she will not get a chance to preview this article and tell me to edit out stuff she doesn’t want included, something she often does when I finish writing. So, I get to tell her that I love her and miss her and please come back home already! (And yes, I did all the laundry.) v

Shmuel Katz is the executive director of Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah (, a new gap-year yeshiva. Shmuel, his wife Goldie, and their six children made aliyah in July of 2006. Before making aliyah, he was the executive director of the Yeshiva of South Shore in Hewlett. You can contact him at



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