With Fear and Trembling: I'm Heading to Israel


I was 7 years old when the first car bomb was set off in Israel. As a young girl growing up in New Jersey, I obviously wasn’t directly affected. In fact, to be honest, I have no particular memory of this particular incident. But what I do remember quite vividly was the seemingly constant barrage of reports of similar incidents throughout the 90s. It seemed to me as though every time I entered my living room after getting ready for school, I heard yet another announcement about the number of people that had been killed due to suicide bombings.

There was, however, one in particular incident has stuck out in my mind throughout the years. It was of a bombing that occurred outside of a cafe. I can’t remember many other details, but what stuck out to me was the vulnerability of the victims. It was just too real. Nearly everyday, I ran into a local deli to pick up two bagels that my mother and I would eat in the car as she drove me to school. The idea that someones life could be ended while performing the most menial tasks was more than I could bear.

At the same time, I also heard news stories of bombing into Palestine. And while the stories of Israel plagued my days, the ones of Palestine stayed with me in the night. As I would lie in bed before falling asleep, I would imagine that the bombs would light up the sky like a horrifying fireworks display.

It is easy to understand then that the one thing I associated with Israel is violence. Yet and still, I am landing there Saturday morning—right after midnight.

And I’m terrified.

Is that feeling justified? I don’t know. But unlike nearly all of the other places that I have visited, I have done very little research about the place that I am about to visit. For some particular reason, I as a lover of facts and inhaler of books have avoided this topic all together. Generally because whenever the mere mention of Israel is brought up, the resulting conversation sounds to be a bit like this…

As a result, it is nearly impossible to overstate how ignorant I am about this country and the history of the conflict. This, despite the fact that I as a child and a teenager, I was a devout Christian and am now embarking upon a journey to the “Holy Land.” And while I don’t carry those particular beliefs quite as dogmatically as I did before, I am still grateful for that period of my life.

Yet and still, I never had any dreams of visiting the Holy Land. Six months ago, I would have chosen to row to Antarctica in a rowboat without a coat rather than trace Jesus’s path in Jerusalem. But times change and so do expectations. No one is more surprised to me that I’ll be landing in Israel in a few days. And will I am sure that I’ll be safe and will probably even have a great time, the fact of the matter is that when I step into the soil in the Holy Land, I’ll be doing so with fear and trembling.

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Candace FykesIsraelComment