Jerusalem is about to face what meteorologists are calling “the worst storm of the entire year”, and its authorities and citizens are scrambling to prepare themselves for the very real threat of a post-apocalyptic wonderland.
The Jerusalem municipality canceled schools three days in advance, out of concern that students might find themselves stuck with an actual education. A representative from The Municipal Committee For The Cancellation Of School, explained that “Hanukkah vacation was almost three weeks ago, and studies have shown that that is the minimum amount of continuity required for students to actually remember anything they learned. So we canceled school.” Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about pretty much anything, the representative added “you can never be too careful about these things, young people are at a grave risk of retaining their subject matter.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also addressed the Middle East snow crisis. Speaking at the annual convention of Alarmed Israelis Prepared for Actual Crisis (AIPAC), Netanyahu said “if it looks like winter, and it feels like winter, then it must be winter. A non-nuclear winter”. Netanyahu’s words were greeted with massive applause by an audience who enjoys being told obvious things by politicians.
Being a Middle Eastern country, Israel is ill-prepared for snow, despite the fact that this occurs almost yearly – a result of the climate change phenomenon often referred to as global warming. Referring to freezing snowstorms as global warming is a textbook example of another scientific theory called “Grimm’s Paradox”, which hypothesizes that a cat left inside a box can be both cold and hungry at the same time.
As a result of this lack of experience, Israelis are unfamiliar with the basic accouterments required to thrive through a snowstorm. In Israel, snow chains are what you use to make sure no one steals your igloo, snow plows are tanks driving backwards, snow shovels don’t actually exist, and careful driving hasn’t been imported from Europe yet.
Being the Startup Nation that it is, Israel is not about to lose an opportunity to create a startup for every situation. A new Jerusalem based startup has developed ZeroDegrees, an app that allows users to share snow pictures, jokes, and recipes, and to rank submissions along the spectrum of “frozen chosen” to “miserable puddle”. “ZeroDegrees is going to revolutionize the way people interact with snow,” says co-founder Hillel Teller.”it allows people to connect around the shared experience of getting snowed on. We saw that there were a lot of people who had things to say on the subject but didn’t have a dedicated platform to do it with – so we built this app.”
Many Israelis have had bad experiences with snow, which contribute to the tense, flakey feelings in the air. “Last year, I was on my way to Jerusalem to look at the snow, and I my car got stuck on the highway in over three centimeters of the stuff” relates Meir Kadosh of Rechovot. “The snow reached all the way to the bottom of my hubcaps, and I had to be evacuated by an armored personnel carrier!” he relates excitedly.
Not to be outdone, the Charedi community of Jerusalem has also initiated its own preparations for the event, with children donning garbage bags tied below their knees to form makeshift boots, and community leaders switching to special all-white “snow shtreimels”. Orthodox Judaism frowns upon the use of conventional boots, as they exemplify modernity and technological innovation.
“I love the snow,” squeals Ariella Bernitsky, 8, of Armon Hanatziv. “I love throwing clumps of snow at my friends, putting a carrot in a pile of snow and calling it a ‘snowman’. Also, hot chocolate.” “I want to kill myself” sighs her mother, Melissa Bernitsky, also of Armon Nanatziv. “The kids go out for three minutes, get their clothes soaked, track snow through the house, and then cry that they are both bored and cold.” She adds, “They have been out of school for about a week now, and I’ve just heard that they might be keeping schools closed all year because it might snow again in 2016.”