Chief Rabbi David Lau said has urged Jerusalem families to open their doors and host drivers and passengers stranded in the mammoth snowstorm that has closed highways out of the city and buried the capital under 18 inches of snow.

He also said that efforts to rescue people stranded on highways must continue during Shabbat, explaining that the situation is one of “pikuach nefesh” wherein violations of Jewish law on the Sabbath are lifted in life-threatening circumstances.

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Soldiers, police and rescue crew have evacuated more than 2,300 people from snowbound highway and streets.

Ben Gurion Airport was shut down Friday morning for two hours.

The snow is expected to continue through the night and taper off on Saturday. Snow has fallen in areas that are only 1,000 feet high and rarely see precipitation other than rain.

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