It Tasted Like Jet Fuel

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It tasted like jet fuel. But that didn’t surprise me, after all, I was kissing the tarmac at Ben-Gurion International Airport, as is customary upon arrival in Israel. What did surprise me, however, was that it wasn’t the type of high-octane fuel I’d been promised in which you can taste the spirituality of a country that’s sacred to three of the world’s oldest religions.

This could have been the cracked asphalt of LAX or O’Hare, and I never would have known the difference. For my entire life I’d been told by overbearing relatives and well meaning friends exactly what I would see and how close to God it would make me feel, but no one ever told me that under the looming nose of our Lufthansa jet I would meet a close friend.

Some people call him doubt, some uncertainty. When the two of us are together, I call him skepticism. Throughout the next year and a half, this uncertainty about my feelings towards Israel, and this craving to feel the spiritual connection I’d been promised would stay by my side, never faltering, never fading, simply waiting. He was with me the next morning while I got breakfast, in the cab ride to the historic old city of Jerusalem, and constantly pinching and poking me as I wandered around until I found...

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