So Israelis can be weird about stuff. This is not unique: the residents of any country or the participants in any culture have their own quirks. But since I am an observer-slash-participant in this one, this is what you’re going to get.
Israelis are in denial that there are really only two seasons.
There is summer, in which it is HOT. Relentlessly, brutally HOT. Sometimes it is less HOT; most of those times are at night. For this there are two main styles of female dress. Religious women continue to dress in long skirts and (for the stricter among us, of which I am not, mostly for this reason) in long sleeves. It is roast-a-rama. The non-religious women usually wear as little as possible.
Autumn is a bit of a farce. The sign of autumn is not changing leaves, nor decreasing temperatures, but rather the appearance of a small bird, the nachlieli (known in English as the wagtail). They migrate from northern Europe, following the warm weather. Usually when they get here it is still hot, though perhaps not as brutal.
Once it rains, it’s winter. Winter is the opposite of summer, in that there is rain sometimes. The weather can have a bit of a chill to it, especially in the north of Israel, in the hilly areas (like Jerusalem), or in the desert at night. I live in none of these places, so it is amusing to me to see people walking around in fleece or (I am not making this up) down jackets when it’s in the 60s. And boots. Lots of boots. I get that fashion is fashion and if the winter fashions don’t get trotted out for the buying public then nobody is compelled to buy, and once you buy you want to wear, no?
Ok, I’ll ‘fess up to being cold sometimes, but really only INSIDE of buildings because everything is constructed out of stone and tile and has no insulation. My feet were cold for all of January, for example.
I am the odd duck who dresses myself and my kids based on the weather report, not on the (faux) season. AM goes to school in sweat pants and a short sleeve + sweatshirt, or with a long sleeve shirt on cold days. His teacher always exclaims, “Kar l’cha?!” (“Aren’t you cold?!”) first thing, though he never complains of being cold and is always down to shirt sleeves when I come to get him.
This week we’ve had a heat wave (following a week of chilly and rainy), and nobody but the Americans seem to have noticed. My ulpan classmates have sauntered in wearing short sleeves and sandals. I personally don’t think we’ve seen the last of winter, but I am not going to dress as if it is a winter day when the forecast is for 90 degrees. And when I took AM to school in shorts and a short sleeved shirt, his teacher said to me (in Hebrew of course, because that is what we all speak now, har har), “I knew he’d be wearing shorts!” OF COURSE. THE WEATHER FORECAST WAS FOR 90 DEGREES. I tried to explain this, but I need to work on incredulous in my new language. She was without her trademark fleece top, but was still wearing long sleeves. As was every child in the class except for him.
Crazy. Seriously cracked up. Gila has tried to explain this to me, that from after Sukkot until Pesach is winter and you dress for the time of year. I am obstinate. Show me the thermometer. Obviously New York was more of a four-season kind of place and we had more kinds of clothes, but if we got a warm day in February or a chilly day in April we dressed for that, not based on the calendar.
The immigrant in me continues to rise up in rebellion, combating local custom with common sense. And, for now, I’ll be enjoying my non-cold feet and my short sleeves.