There was a great buzz in the neighborhood, and especially in the media, about the approaching snowstorm. But who really needed to close down two states because of a few snowflakes? As you already know, we both take local snow warnings here with great amazement, especially as we watch the supermarket shelves empty, the rock salt being bought in massive amounts, and people buying extra gas for the generators they purchased after Hurricane Sandy.
But let us share with you what happens when there really is a blizzard with major repercussions. We think that it happened the first year we were living in Montreal. The snow began to fall and fall and fall. We just watched and thought it was beautiful. Cotton white and, in this particular case, it remained even more beautiful because workers went on strike in Montreal, which meant there was no snow removal at all. They were forever asking on the radio if there was someone who had a skidoo and lived close enough to a particular address so a woman who was in labor could to be taken to a hospital. Living in Montreal, we never had to bother with shoveling our sidewalks—all was taken care of by the city. But now, suddenly, the city was practically at a standstill. In trying to explain how high the snow was we can tell you that our front balcony, which was equivalent to a first floor in a house, was totally covered with snow.
Now comes the part of the story that we hesitate to relate only because we do not want to embarrass our children who are always slightly wary of what we write. Nevertheless, we feel as though this story is worth retelling as we still laugh about it to this very day.
Remember streets and roads are barely plowed; everyone is home and, of course, on the second night of the storm Nina was to go to the mikvah. First we called the mikvah lady and asked if she would be there. The mikvah was about eight miles from our house. Next we called a babysitter who immediately agreed to come and then upon arrival asked us the obvious question: “Mrs. Glick, my mother wants to know where you could possibly be going this evening?”
“Oh,” we said, “we’re going out to eat.” It was totally illogical to be doing that on such a night, but she would never question what the rabbi and his wife told her. She also would not have suspected where we were going because we are sure at that point in her life she had never heard of a mikvah.
We began our trudge—Nina wearing snowpants above her skirt—both of us bundled up in typical Canadian fashion. After walking about six blocks to a major thoroughfare, we were picked up by a truck driver who fortunately was driving more or less in the direction we were going. He never asked us where we were going. After he dropped us at another thoroughfare that would take us close enough to the mikvah if we got a long enough ride, we were picked up by another couple driving in their car in the same direction. They were acquaintances that we knew slightly. Again, “Where are you going?” and, once again, we told them we were on our way to a restaurant. As we crept along the road (Van Horne for Montrealer’s reading this), which had only one lane open in either direction because of the strike, we watched buses and cars taking turns to get through. All of a sudden we noticed an elderly Jewish man with a girl waiting for a ride holding large plastic bags. We stopped the car and let them in. Both were covered in snowflakes and ice. They were off to the Young Israel of Montreal for a wedding. It was his granddaughter getting married. It was a Lubavitch wedding and they had enquired from the Rebbe if they should still have the wedding and he told them that it must go on. As we slowly meandered through the streets, the young lady sitting next to us started to scream, “Stop the car.” She had noticed the kallah standing by herself trying to hitch a ride. She also was holding a large plastic bag which had her gown in it. At that point we got out of the car to make room for the “wedding party” and thanked our chauffeur and his wife for the ride. The mikvah that we were going to was in the Young Israel building exactly where the wedding was being held. By the way, the Rebbe insisted that the chuppah be outside.
Nina traipsed her way through mounds of snow and entered the mikvah at the back of the shul. When the mikvah lady saw Nina she was so excited as she said how worried she was that she would not be able to get through the snow accumulations. Mordechai said he would wait in the shul for her. When he entered the shul there were few people present and they asked him if he would help hold up the chuppah outside once the ceremony began because they did not have enough men to do so. In the interim, he sampled and savored hors d’oeuvres that were already prepared for the many guests who were never going to get there. Within 30 minutes he was joined by our chauffeur who had given us all a ride. He also was escorting his wife to the mikvah. The two men enjoyed a lovely smorgasbord together as they waited to be one of the very few men available to hold the chuppah outside. Nina at the same time absolutely cracked up when the only other woman to enter the mikvah was her driver’s wife.
Both ladies laughed as they left the mikvah and found their husbands in the midst of a wedding playing important roles that they had no idea they would be a part of.
And so, as it turned out, we had not told a fib to our babysitter; we did get to eat supper in an elegant candlelit room. As soon as we were sated we began our trek back.
That is what happens when there is a true blizzard: The streets were not closed by any government officials; the unions decided that. We will always remember this experience with a chuckle and grin. Sorry kids if you felt we shouldn’t repeat it.
By Nina and Mordechai Glick